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Eating disorders and oral health

A nutritious diet, a good at-home oral health regimen, and regular dental visits can maintain your bright, white smile. But what happens to your smile if you have an eating disorder?

It is estimated that more than 20 million American women and 10 million men will experience anorexia, binge eating, bulimia nervosa, or orthorexia in their lifetime.

An eating disorder can cause temporary or permanent damage to your dental health and mouth. Bingeing and purging or self-starvation can lead to a deficiency in essential nutrients and vitamins necessary for a healthy smile. Vomiting, overeating, and dry mouth can also adversely impact your oral health.

Learn how eating disorders affect your smile and how to prevent and treat damage to your dental health.


Vomiting can erode your tooth enamel and injure your soft palate at the back and the roof of your mouth. Repeated vomiting makes your teeth appear translucent, increasing your risk for dental caries and tooth sensitivity.

Avoid brushing for at least 20 minutes after vomiting because your tooth enamel is compromised. Instead, rinse with a solution of baking soda and water to help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid.


Binge eating increases the amount of stomach acid you produce, causing it to back up into your esophagus. This results in acid reflux which can burn the soft tissue in your mouth and wear away your tooth enamel making you more susceptible to cavities and tooth loss.

Dry Mouth

Vomiting and poor nutrition can enlarge your salivary glands and cause a reduction in saliva production, making it difficult for you to neutralize your mouth’s acidity. This places you at increased risk for cavities and oral infections.

To help increase salivary flow, chew xylitol-sweetened gum.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium plays a role in a strong and healthy jawbone and teeth. If you lack calcium in your diet, you are at an elevated risk of weak dental roots, brittle teeth, irritated gums, and tooth decay.

Insufficient Vitamin D

This versatile anti-inflammatory vitamin boosts your immune system, helping fight gum disease and other oral infections. It also helps your body absorb calcium.

Lack of B3

A B3 deficiency can cause bad breath, canker sores, and painful fissures in the corners of your mouth.

How to Prevent Damage to Your Oral Health From Eating Disorders

Your dentist may recommend the following to help prevent permanent harm to your dental health:

  • Fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel
  • Desensitizing or remineralizing toothpaste or mouthwash
  • Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your teeth from acid erosion
  • More frequent dental check-ups to identify and treat potential issues

How to Treat Damage to Your Dental Health From Eating Disorders

If you have been dealing with your eating disorder for an extended period, some of the harmful effects may be irreversible. Depending on the dental problem, your dentist may recommend fillings, a root canal, dental crowns, porcelain veneers, or a smile makeover that combines restorative and cosmetic treatment to rehabilitate your smile.

Contact TruBlu Dentistry to Schedule Your Check-Up

TruBlu Dentistry provides you with a compassionate and safe environment to discuss any oral health concerns you may have. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Be proud of your smile.