What are the effects of an eating disorder on your oral health?

Effects of an eating disorder on your oral health


The way you are eating your food has an impact on your oral health. As per expert suggestion, the first impact of an eating disorder is noticed in your mouth. The nutritional deficiency, along with bad habits of eating untimely, affects your oral health, sometimes causing permanent damage. Therefore, it is vital to consult a dental expert to make sure you have prepared a response mechanism for treating oral issues that come along with the eating disorder.


Different kinds of eating disorders:

As per the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders mainly include binge eating, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia. 

  • People with binge eating habits are called food addicts. They tend to overeat within a short period, and they can't control their urges. They do not use purging techniques to get rid of excess weight. Instead, they feel highly guilty and regretful, which again causes them to continue with their behavior. Binge eating prevails equally among both men and women.
  • With anorexia, people fear they will gain excessive weight and even become underweight. As a result, they often limit food intake and exercise vigorously. Once they complete eating, they compel themselves to vomit and use laxatives and diuretics to eliminate excess weight.
  • Bulimia is another eating disorder that causes overeating at various times in a week and some severe cases at different times in a day. People eat excessive sweet and fat-rich foods with this uncontrollable urge to eat food. Excess eating followed by riddance that includes using laxatives and enemas, vomiting, etc. Research has shown that about 90% of bulimics develop ominous signs in the mouth and teeth.


Now let's see how the above eating disorder has an impact on your oral health:

  • Bad gums: With an eating disorder like anorexia, your body does not get enough nutrition to feed the gum tissues. Because of lack of food, your gum will start bleeding and loosens, only to end with tooth decay. And also, as your body runs very low in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B, and iron, vital for dental health, deficiency results in gum disease. Lack of calcium also results in tooth decay. In addition, a low iron level causes mouth sores, and a lack of vitamin D causes terrible breath.


  • Decay because of acid: Eating disorder often followed by vomiting where an individual throws out the acid produced inside the stomach. When you start throwing up frequently, these acids impact the outside layer of the teeth, that is, enamel. Some main signs of acid damage are skin color changes, teeth sensitivity, tooth decay, and bad breath.


  • Affects salivary glands: Each year, several cases arrive in a dental clinic where people have problems with their salivary glands. When people become habituated to binge eating and purging, it causes enlargement of salivary glands, which is quite painful and also very displeasing aesthetically.


  • Impact of purging on your teeth: Purging causes enamel loss, tooth erosion, teeth weakening, tooth discoloration, and many more. It happens because of the stomach acid in contact with the teeth. This weakens your teeth, making them very weak and discolored. Individuals who purge also develop a soft palate or damage their soft tissue, which means their gums, mouth sides and the back of the throat start getting hurt. Purging also causes dehydration, leading to dry mouth, cracked lips, and gums.



People having eating disorders must look for treatment recommended by their dentist. A good dentist has the necessary training to identify an eating disorder's dental signs. They will first counsel the patient about oral and bodily damages and then recommend treatment. They will also assist in alleviating the issues associated with the mouth and teeth that the patient is suffering from. Like if a person who tends to purge by vomiting is suggested not to do brushing immediately since it will increase the damaging impacts of the stomach acids in your teeth. Instead, one should wait about half an hour for brushing and use a neutral paste-like baking soda.

Some of the preventive and restoration works include:

  • Maintenance of proper oral hygiene
  • Fluoride treatment plans depend on individual
  • Remedies for dry mouth
  • Treatment for teeth sensitivity by restoration of teeth with severe loss of enamel
  • On-time dental visit for monitoring progress.

So, if you are suffering from an eating disorder, you must go for dental checking every six months, even if you do not have any symptoms of dental issues. MyDentalPlan is one such platform where you can find some skilled dentists to help you with your dental problems.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.

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