If you have recently been diagnosed with bulimia, you may be receiving treatment from a doctor, a therapist and a dietitian. However, you should also consider speaking to a dentist about the condition. Bulimia can have a severe impact on your oral health and your dentist will be able to offer advice, treatment and support. Below is a guide to bulimia and how it can affect your dental health.
The Impact of Bulimia
When you vomit up food, you are exposing your teeth and gums to acid from your stomach. This acid can cause the erosion of tooth enamel and can cause your gums to recede. You may notice that your teeth feel more sensitive to cold and hot food and drink. Your teeth may also begin to look discoloured. Damage to the enamel leads your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay.
Reduced Levels of Saliva
Vomiting on a regular basis can cause you to develop a dry mouth. While this may not sound like the most serious problem, it could have a big impact on your oral health. Saliva plays a key role in helping to maintain healthy levels of bacteria within your mouth. However, when you have a dry mouth, bacteria can thrive, which leaves you at an increased risk of gum disease. Saliva also helps to wash away plaque and food debris from your teeth, and so reduced levels of saliva can lead to increased levels of tooth decay.
Irritation of Soft Tissue
The acid which enters your mouth when you vomit can also cause irritation to the soft tissues inside and around your mouth. This can result in sore red patches on the inside of your mouth and cracked or dry lips. This irritation can create the perfect environment for fungal and bacterial infections.
Using Protective Products
Your dentist may recommend you use certain products to help to protect your teeth. They may prescribe a specialist toothpaste that promotes the re-mineralisation of your tooth enamel. They may even recommend a protective fluoride gel, which can help to form a protective barrier against the acid.
Changes to Your Oral Hygiene Routine
It is common for people with bulimia to clean their teeth immediately after vomiting to remove the bad taste from their mouth and to protect their teeth. However, brushing your teeth immediately after they have been weakened by your stomach acid can actually accelerate the process of erosion. Your dentist may recommend you make changes to your oral hygiene routine, such as rinsing your mouth with a sodium bicarbonate mixture after vomiting to lower the acidity of your mouth.
Restoration of Your Teeth
If your teeth have already suffered significant damage due to acid erosion, your dentist may carry out restoration work by installing crowns or using composite resin to protect your teeth.
If you are concerned about the impact of bulimia on your teeth, you should contact your family dentist today.