There are many effects of eating disorders like bulimia, but some of the most long-term risks involve the teeth, as stomach acid can destroy them over time. Erosion of tooth enamel is just one of the main effects of bulimia on teeth, often leading to an increased risk of tooth decay. Other tooth side effects associated with this condition include an eventual change in bite, or even a reduction in both the size and amount of teeth. Rotting teeth often need to be treated by a dentist or even completely replaced with tooth implants.
Stomach acid tends to come up during purging, resulting in erosion of the outer area of the teeth. This is particularly noticeable on the inside part of the front teeth. Since enamel is meant to protect the teeth from rotting, the loss of this substance often leads to decay. Not only can this effect of bulimia on teeth result in the need for extensive dental treatment, but it can also lead to teeth that are sensitive to temperature changes, making it painful to eat hot or cold foods. Additionally, the nerves in the teeth are more likely to become infected when there is a lack of sufficient enamel.
Once the teeth lack enamel and become eroded, they may end up changing size. For example, the back teeth sometimes become smaller, which may change the bite entirely so that the teeth do not fit together in the mouth like they once did. Not surprisingly, one effect of bulimia on teeth is the eventual loss of some teeth due to decay. They may need to be removed and then replaced with tooth implants or bridges.
Some other changes can also occur in the mouth as a result of this eating disorder, which means that the effects of bulimia on teeth are not the only risks. For example, malnutrition can lead to the inability to heal quickly, which can result in periodontal disease. Salivary glands are often affected, as well, as they usually become swollen, sometimes resulting in larger cheeks.
There are ways to reduce the effect of bulimia on teeth while the disease is being treated. One of the ways to avoid the damaging effects of stomach acid on the teeth is by mixing baking soda and water together, and then rinsing. Unfortunately, the common habit of brushing the teeth just after vomiting can force stomach acid into the teeth, rubbing away the enamel. Instead, it is advisable to wait, and then either brush the teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, or use a mouthwash with the same ingredient since fluoride tends to strengthen the teeth.