Healthy Tahoe: Can eating disorders affect your teeth? |

Healthy Tahoe: Can eating disorders affect your teeth?

Sierra Smiles
John Bocchi

Eating disorders usually stem from any combination of emotional, psychological, or social factors and affect around 10 million Americans. Some whole-body health problems that arise from eating disorders range from muscle loss, decreased bone density, and increased risk for heart failure. At Sierra Smiles Tahoe, we also want to bring awareness to possible oral health concerns associated with eating disorders.

Dental complications

All eating disorders can negatively affect oral health. Your mouth suffers when the body lacks necessary nutrients. Lips can become so dry they crack. Sores may appear in the mouth, and they tend to bleed pretty easily. Teeth may even begin to change color and shape, becoming more translucent.

If vomiting is symptom, even more problems can arise. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, almost 90 percent of bulimics experience enamel erosion caused by stomach acid overexposure.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of an eating disorder often first show in the mouth. This is why a dentist may be the first to suspect problem. Common signs are:

Enlarged salivary glands

Chronic dry mouth

Tooth decay


Do’s and don’ts

First, seek appropriate medical help to work on getting healthy and returning to eating a balanced diet. There are also precautions you can take to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

DO NOT brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. This can actually cause more damage. Rinse with water instead.

DO visit your dentist regularly.

DO continue to brush twice and floss once daily.

If you’ve been diagnosed with an eating disorder or believe you may be battling one, schedule an appointment at Sierra Smiles Tahoe. There are ways we can help get, and keep, your mouth healthy while you’re working on getting better. We’re here for you every step of the way.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

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