Bulimia nervosa and your teeth

At first, it didn’t seem obvious that mental illness would cause dental problems. However, dentists often find some of the first signs of bulimia nervosa.

Bulimia nervosa can cause serious medical problems and dental problems. For bulimia nervosa patients, it is important not to neglect their oral health, but what is the problem?

Tooth decay

Studies have shown that 47% to 93% of vomiting bulimia nervosa patients show damage to tooth enamel.If you are self-inducing vomiting, you should be aware that bringing the acid content of your stomach into your mouth may erode the enamel surface of your teeth.

This kind of damage usually occurs mainly on the inside of the tooth and on the occlusal surface, and the degree of damage to the enamel varies from patient to patient. Some factors thought to affect susceptibility to dental erosion include diet and oral hygiene habits and the frequency of spontaneous vomiting.

Not surprisingly, people who induce vomiting several times a day have a higher risk of dental erosion compared to people who vomit less frequently. However, individual differences may be large, and some people may suffer more from vomiting less frequently. Only six months after self-induced vomiting, tooth erosion may become obvious.

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Over time, tooth enamel is eroded by repeated exposure to stomach acid, and teeth may lose luster, crack, turn yellow, wear, chip, and look broken.

Damaged teeth can further exacerbate concerns about a person’s appearance. But tooth decay is not just a cosmetic problem.

Your teeth may be more sensitive to heat and cold. This can make eating more difficult and complicate recovery. In extreme cases, the tooth may die and a lot of expensive dental work may be required to repair the damage.


Whether or not they self-induce vomiting, many people with bulimia nervosa who overeating consume high-sugar foods, which increase the risk of tooth decay.

People who vomit have a higher risk of tooth decay due to the extra stomach acid. Dentists have recognized that patients with bulimia nervosa have a higher incidence of tooth decay.

Chewing and spitting may be symptoms of other eating disorders and bulimia nervosa, as well as dental problems such as tooth decay and tooth decay.

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Effects on the oral cavity and salivary glands

Frequent vomiting can cause gum irritation, bleeding, and ulcers at the corners of the lips. It can also cause the salivary glands along the mandible and in front of the ears to enlarge, resulting in the appearance of “chipmunk cheeks”.

Removal may result in a decrease in saliva, which can lead to dry and/or cracked lips, dry mouth, and burning sensation in the mouth, especially on the tongue.

what to do

Treatment includes stopping vomiting and paying attention to oral hygiene. Restoration is the best way to limit tooth damage and prevent medical consequences. If you have untreated bulimia nervosa, please seek help from a therapist.

You can even see your primary care doctor first (he may then refer you to a doctor who specializes in eating disorders). Talking about your condition publicly is important for final treatment and recovery.

Bulimia discussion guide

Get our printable guide to make an appointment for your next doctor to help you ask the right questions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can effectively treat bulimia nervosa. The self-help version of cognitive behavioral therapy may also help some people. Once vomiting stops, people with bulimia nervosa sometimes choose to have a more extensive dental restoration.

It takes time to recover from an eating disorder. At the same time, if you still vomit, there are steps you can take to minimize the injury. In the past, patients were advised not to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after an episode of vomiting, because they were worried that it would cause more damage. However, this has never been confirmed.

The current recommendation is to gently brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, and then rinse with a neutral pH mouthwash or baking soda solution (one teaspoon in a quart of water) to neutralize the acid residue.

Hot compresses and sour sugar may help swell the salivary glands.

Although you may feel embarrassed, you should also go to the dentist for checkups on a regular basis. Try to be honest with them about your bulimia nervosa and your specific behaviors so that they can help prevent more serious dental problems. Untreated dental problems can also lead to more serious medical complications.