Oral & Vision Health Blog

How Eating Disorders can Impact Your Dental Health

According to National Eating Disorders Association, 20 million women and 10 million men in America have suffered from an eating disorder in their life. The two most common eating disorders are bulimia and anorexia. These eating disorders can impact your dental health.Let's explore how.


A person with bulimia goes through cycles of eating and then vomiting. The cycles can occur as often as multiple times a day. Since the vomiting causes the teeth to be exposed to stomach acid repeatedly, damage can occur. The tooth enamel is worn by the stomach acid resulting in staining and cavities. Eventually tooth loss may result. 

In some cases, a dentist is the first medical professional to notice the signs of the eating disorder. They can easily detect this due to the degradation of the teeth associated with the disorder. It is possible to use cosmetic dentistry to fix the tooth enamel and return the teeth to normal. 

In addition, the issues with tooth enamel also impact color, shape and length of the teeth. A bulimic may also have:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Lesions in the mouth
  • Temperature sensitive teeth
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Brittle teeth that break easily

People with bulimia may brush their teeth immediately after purging. This actually causes additional degradation of the teeth because it can scrub the stomach acid into the tooth enamel. Instead, avoiding brushing for 1 hour is recommended. Just rinse the mouth out with water. 


An individual with anorexia does not consume enough food each day because they fear weight gain. They are attempting to lose weight by excessively restricting their food intake. The result is they do not obtain the nutrients their body needs. Many anorexia patients are in a state of semi-starvation. The body does not get the adequate amount of minerals, vitamins, and proteins needed. Teeth require vitamins and minerals for oral health. Without an adequate amount of calcium, iron, vitamin D and B vitamins, tooth decay and gum disease may occur. An anorexic may also develop sores inside the mouth that can bleed. If the person is dehydrated, they may suffer from dry mouth. Finally, osteoporosis can develop which will weaken the bones in the jaw. These bones support teeth. If they are sufficiently weakened, the tooth may be lost.


If you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder, seek help. Call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237. Talk to your doctor and your dentist. Both will offer you the ability to speak confidentially about your situation. Therefore, they both provide a safe place to discuss your struggles and concerns. Eating disorders can cause serious health problems in addition to the dental issues addressed above. Getting help as early as possible reduces the likelihood of facing those health problems.

As you seek treatment, maintain detailed dental care by regularly brushing your teeth and flossing. Visit the dentist on a regular basis for cleanings. Follow their guidance for any dental treatment necessary.

Many Americans have put anorexia or bulimia in their past and now live a healthy, happy life. You can too.  

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