Eating Disorders

The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia involves starving yourself. Bulimia nervosa includes a range of behaviors: binge eating, exercising too much, and purging (that is, deliberately getting food out of the body after it has been eaten). Methods for purging vary, but they include vomiting and using laxatives or diuretics to move food more quickly through your digestive system than is normal.

Eating disorders can affect your oral health because they can potentially cause changes in the mouth. For example, if a person repeatedly vomits, that person’s teeth are being exposed to harmful acids that eat away the enamel on the teeth, as well as discoloring them. Cavities and tooth loss can result. Some people brush their teeth after vomiting, thinking that they are protecting themselves from the negative consequences, but unfortunately the brushing does more harm than good when the toothpaste mixes with the harsh acids. It is more effective to rinse the mouth out with a neutral solution of something like baking soda mixed with water instead.

Eating disorders are a serious problem with potential long-term medical and dental consequences. If you, or someone you love, is suffering from one, be sure to include both a dentist and a doctor as you put together a treatment plan.