The effects of bulimia and anorexia on your teeth (part I)

An eating disorder that is bad news

National studies have shown that around 15 percent of young girls today suffer from eating disorders. Girls are affected by this five to ten more than man. It is an illness that involves a constant preoccupation with food, a general distorted body image and the excessive measures taken in order to control the body weight.  Furthermore, it can advance to such an extensive point that it can lead to harming your own body health, as well as your mental health and social relations.

There are two common eating disorders: bulimia, which manifests itself in episodes of compulsive eating, and anorexia nervosa, which is manifested as a restriction of food intake. These are considered illnesses and can alternate or follow one another. They are also often accompanied by compensatory behavior intended to limit the gain of the weight (making yourself sick, fasting and physical hyperactivity, use oflaxatives).

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are havoc eating disorders that will be extremely damaging to your mouth, especially in the first few years of the illness. In that period, the teeth will become worn and cracked. Most of the damage is done because of vomiting in bulimia’s case. The anorexia’s effects will show because of the vitamin and mineral loss.

Characteristic dental damagebulimia and anorexia

The damage associated with eating disorders are signs of both chemical and mechanical wear of the teeth. The enamel is eroded by an excess of acid that originates from different parts of the body. The enamel will get thinner until it finally disappears, leaving the sensible dentine exposed.

The damage caused by vomiting will be in the area where the stomach acid comes in contact with the teeth. That is why the back of the teeth is the area most affected. Over time, the enamel will disappear entirely on the inside part of the teeth. The teeth will wear down and lose their height. The bulimic episodes and even certain types of foods can expose your teeth to gastro-esophageal reflux, especially during the night. This means that acid erosion can take place without even knowing during the night. This type of damage is caused more on one side of the jaw, depending on the sleeping position.

The damage done to the front part of the teeth is another problem, but it is one caused more from external factors like drinking a lot of acidic drinks. Some people drink up to 6 liters of soda in order to stimulate and provoke the vomiting. This acid erosion lowers the level of pH in your mouth under 5.5. You should also be careful of other acidic substances that can reduce the pH level under the minimum limit.

Because there is not enough saliva in your mouth, due to malnourishment, your spit cannot neutralize the acidity in the mouth. This will damage the chewing surface of the molars, and the edges of your teeth will wear down. Your molars will lose their shape and size.

On the other hand, anorexia will lead to gum disease. The gums will be so far receded that the roots of your teeth will be exposed to the acid and the potential damage the brushing action has.

To find out more about the effects of bulimia and anorexia on your teeth, read the second part if this article. In the meantime, take care of your teeth and body in order to enjoy a better quality of life.

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