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ASK YOUR DENTIST 25 - Eating disorder and teeth

“Hi, I am Deborrah, and I have an eating disorder. I know that these types of disorders are bad for your teeth, but I am not ready to give it up, as I am seeing a lot of positive benefits in my social life from having it. I know it is bad for my teeth, and I am afraid for my oral health. How do I prevent damage to my teeth?


Dear Deborah,

There are many things to consider in this situation. Eating disorders have a complex effect on teeth, and determining how much damage you will suffer is difficult at this point. But rest assured; unless you get help for your eating disorders, it will be impossible for you to live a healthy life. The reason is because if you are not eating properly, you will not be absorbing nutrients properly, meaning you will not be able to replenish your system, which will cause the deterioration of your teeth. Aside from this, if you suffer from bulimia, stomach acid will cause the corrosion of the enamel of your teeth.


There are temporary solutions that you can use. You can, for instance use a tooth guard when you vomit, or you can use toothpaste with extra high amounts of fluoride, and leave it in after you brush. But these are simply treating the symptoms, and not the causes of your problems, and dental ills will be inevitable. You see, if you are not eating, your teeth, gums and immune system will not have the nutrients needed to live. This way, they will start to die, to get infected because they cannot fight off bacteria, the calcium will leach from your teeth, making them gray and unattractive, and eventually your teeth will fall out for no good reason at all. Until you solve the problems in your life that are causing the eating disorder, you will not see any progress on your dental health, in fact, you will see rapid deterioration. I advise to go to a dentist and see if you need any help with healing the damage you may have on your teeth, and afterwards to see a psychotherapist and talk a little about why you have these issues.  

If your social life is such that an eating disorder is making it better, it is time to get new friends. These friends are clearly only superficial, and your relationship to them will fall apart on its own given time.

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