Pictures of Bulimia’s Effect on Teeth

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  • A Life of Bingeing and Purging

    A Life of Bingeing and Purging

    Bulimia is an eating disorder in which people binge-eat large amounts of food. Then they purge — throw up, fast, or exercise to excess — in an attempt to rid their bodies of all the extra calories. Constant cycles of bingeing and purging are hard on the heart, kidneys, and other organs. But bulimia can be especially damaging to the teeth.

  • Purging and Your Teeth

    Purging and Your Teeth

    Repeated vomiting can cause serious damage to the teeth. Vomit is especially toxic because it contains stomach acids. These acids break down food in your stomach so your body can digest it.

    When in the mouth, the acids are corrosive enough to wear away at the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. Brushing your teeth too hard after you vomit can also contribute to tooth decay.

  • Cavities

    Cavities

    The acids from frequent vomiting can wear away so much tooth enamel that they leave a hole, called a cavity. Bingeing on sugary foods and sodas can also contribute to tooth decay.

    When you have dental decay, you may notice that your gums bleed when you brush them. If you don’t get a cavity filled, the hole will eventually become so big that you can lose the tooth.

  • Pain!

    Pain!

    As your tooth enamel wears away, it leaves the sensitive inner part of your teeth exposed. You may start to notice that your teeth hurt. Some people have pain and sensitivity whenever they eat hot or cold food. They may feel discomfort when they bite into an ice cream cone or take a spoonful of soup.

  • Yellow, Brittle Teeth

    Yellow, Brittle Teeth

    You may also notice your tooth color and texture change as the erosion gets worse. Your teeth may be weaker and more brittle than usual. They can chip easily and may look ragged at the bottom. Sometimes they’ll turn a yellowish color or take on a glassy appearance. Bulimia can also change the shape and length of your teeth.

  • Swollen Salivary Glands

    Swollen Salivary Glands

    The acids in vomit can irritate the glands on the sides of each cheek. These glands produce saliva, the fluid that helps you swallow and protects your teeth against decay. You’ll notice a swelling around your jaw if your salivary glands are affected.

    Although most tooth changes from bulimia aren’t reversible, salivary gland swelling should go down once you get treated and stop bingeing and purging.

  • Dry Mouth

    Dry Mouth

    A lack of saliva can also lead to the constant feeling that your mouth is parched, also called dry mouth. It’s more than just a minor annoyance. It can affect the way you eat by changing the flavor of food.

    Dry mouth can damage the teeth because saliva washes the away bacteria that cause tooth decay. Having dry mouth can make existing tooth decay from bulimia even worse.

  • Mouth Sores

    Mouth Sores

    Just as stomach acid wears away at the enamel on your teeth, it can also wear away at the skin on the roof and sides of your mouth, and along your throat. This can leave painful sores inside your mouth and throat. They can swell up and even become infected. Some people feel like they have a constant sore throat.

  • Seek Help

    Seek Help

    In addition to causing internal harm, bulimia can have damaging long-term, visible effects on the body. The teeth and mouth are at high risk for infection and decay, which can be painful and unsightly. If you or someone you know suffers from bulimia, seek help immediately, before irreparable damage is done.

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