How Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Mouth?

Eating disorders deprive the body of vital minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients necessary for good health.  There are a wide array of physical symptoms and medical complications that can result from eating disorders, including heart failure, gastric or oesophagus ruptures, osteoporosis, heart arrhythmia, shrinking of the brain, yellowish and dry skin, swollen joints, reduced muscle mass, hair loss, and psychological illnesses such as depression.

Many people affected may not have told anyone about the problems they are having and often dentists may be first to notice signs by changes in the mouth as eating disorders often have a large impact on the health of the mouth.

The repeated vomiting and nutritional deficiencies caused by eating disorders have rigorous and harsh consequences on the health of the mouth.  A dentist can observe the damaging effects on the surfaces of the teeth of patients with eating disorders.


Possible signs and symptoms:

  •  Loss of tissue and erosive lesions on the surface of teeth due to the effects of acid.  These lesions can appear as early as 6 months from the start of the problem.
  • Changes in the colour, shape, and length of teeth.  Teeth can become brittle, translucent, and weak.
  • Increased sensitivity to temperature.  In extreme cases the pulp(nerve) can be exposed and cause infection, discoloration, or even pulp death.
  • Enlargement of the salivary glands, dry mouth, and reddened, dry, cracked lips.
  • Tooth decay, which can actually be aggravated by extensive tooth brushing or rinsing following vomiting.
  • Spontaneous pain within a particular tooth.


At Brightside Dental, we promise not to judge you or lecture you on your condition and can advise on the best ways to maintain your oral health.  The best results will be achieved if advise is also sought from your doctor or specialist in treating the eating disorder to try to prevent future problems and disease.


Tips and advice:

– Don’t brush your teeth for at least 20 minutes after vomiting as this may cause increased wear.  Instead rinse with plain water and chew sugar free gum or use a mouthwash to reduce acid levels.

– Limit the intake and frequency of acidic and sweet food and drinks to prevent further damage to the teeth.

– A battery powered toothbrush may be better than a manual brush to reduce the risk of further wear of the teeth.


It is important to maintain regular dental visits in order to protect your mouth and to receive advise on the best way to restore your mouth if damage has occurred.