Bulimia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder that affects individuals that struggle to maintain control over their eating habits and weight. The repetitive binging and purging is not only difficult on delicate esophageal tissue, but it can also cause long-term damage to the teeth.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the entire human body, but it cannot withstand everything. The repetitive acid exposure from recurrent periods of vomiting will gradually cause erosion of the tooth enamel. This is usually seen on the backside of the top front teeth. Initially the teeth will develop a smooth, glassy texture, but as vomiting continues, the acid wears through and makes the teeth more transparent. Eventually the upper front teeth may appear more yellow and brittle compared to other teeth or how they previously looked. Add dry mouth, a side effect common in bulimic patients, and the teeth can easily decay or erode due to lack of lubrication.
Stomach acid is very erosive, and long-term exposure to the teeth can cause irreversible enamel damage. In addition to seeking professional help, your dentist can counsel you on helping maintain the health of your teeth and reducing the effects of acid exposure associated with bulimia nervosa. Keeping the mouth lubricated by drinking plenty of water can naturally wash acid away from the teeth. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after purging, as this will just scrub the acid against the teeth more. Instead, rinse well with water and follow up with a fluoride rinse to help reverse any enamel decalcification that has begun to occur.
Repairing teeth in recovering bulimic patients may require bonding, porcelain veneers or dental crowns, depending on the severity of enamel damage.
Posted on behalf of Crabapple Dental Associates
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