Bulimia’s Damaging Effects on Your Smile

Your peers and parents may not know if you have an eating disorder, but Dr. Stephen Burds can tell. Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person has frequent episodes of binge eating, followed by self-induced vomiting. A study by the Academy of General Dentistry revealed that purging episodes can occur as often as 40 times per day. These behaviors not only weaken your body, but also destroy your smile. At your dentist appointment with Dr. Burds, he may be able to diagnose an eating disorder based on the condition of your mouth.

Harmful Stomach Acids

Your teeth begin to erode at a pH of 5.5, and stomach acid has a pH of about 2 (lower numbers indicate higher acidity). Vomiting brings up stomach acids through your mouth and these corrosive acids make contact with your teeth. As a result, the high acidity can wear away your tooth enamel, increasing your risk of decay or sensitivity. The erosion is mostly seen on the inside surfaces of your upper front teeth. In addition, the harmful acids may irritate your gum tissue. Furthermore, the color from your stomach acids combined with the erosion of your enamel may leave your smile discolored. Dr. Burds may detect yellow or gray streaks on the surface of your teeth. Fortunately, Dr. Burds can hide discolorations with bonding or veneers.

Mouth Discomfort

Vomiting causes your body to lose water. When you become dehydrated, your mouth will dry out. Your mouth needs moisture to help rinse away bacteria and food particles. A lack of moisture in your mouth can lead to bacterial buildup and tooth decay. Additionally, your stomach acids smell bad, and as you purge, the smell can linger on your palate, throat, or tongue, contributing to bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.

Bulimics aren’t the only ones at risk. People with Gastroesphageal reflux disorder and pregnant women with morning sickness may also show signs of tooth wear or mouth discomfort. If your teeth are frequently exposed to stomach acids, rinse your mouth out following your purging episode. In addition, ask Dr. Burds about a mouthguard to protect your smile or fluoride treatment to strengthen your teeth.

If Dr. Burds recognizes tooth wear or signs of bulimia, he may perform a comprehensive assessment to analyze your behaviors. To keep your smile strong and healthy, contact Gateway Dental Group in Des Moines, Iowa at (515) 244-9565 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Burds. We welcome patients from Des Moines, River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.