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Bulimia

Bulimia

The dental changes seen in many people with bulimia are often recognizable. Frequent vomiting can cause the salivary glands to swell and the tissues of the mouth and tongue become dry, red, and sore. People with bulimia may have chronic throat pain and minor bleeding under the palate.

Frequent vomiting may demineralize the enamel of the teeth, especially on the side of the tongue in the region of the upper front teeth. This drastically increases the risk of tooth decay in these areas and can make these teeth sensitive to temperature. Severe demineralization can cause changes in the bite or change the way the upper and lower teeth fit (occlude). The back teeth may be reduced in size and some teeth may eventually be lost.

Many people with bulimia may be malnourished, or with anemia, poor healing, and the risk of increased periodontal disease.

Many people with bulimia may be malnourished, or with anemia, poor healing, and the risk of increased periodontal disease. In treating the eating disorder, it may take a while for episodes of induced vomiting to be controlled. To minimize the damage caused by stomach acid during episodes of vomiting, rinse the mouth with baking soda mixed with water. You can also rinse your mouth with a mouthwash containing 0.05% fluoride, which may be prescribed by your dentist. Do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, as stomach acid weakens the tooth enamel and brushing can accentuate the loss of the enamel mineral. When brushing your teeth, use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen your teeth.

To reduce dry mouth, drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. There are also saliva substitutes that can be prescribed by your dentist. Your dentist may prescribe daily fluoride treatments with rinses or gels at prescribed dosages.

At the dentist

If you are bulimic, your dentist may perform fluoride treatments during office visits and prescribe a fluoride-based gel for use at home. Visit your dentist regularly; it may also detect caries or infections.

Dental treatment may be important in the treatment of bulimia. Your dentist will work with your health care team so you can coordinate dental treatment with the treatment for eating disorder. If you have severe dental damage and are still under treatment for bulimia, your dentist may be able to provide a device that covers your teeth and protects them from stomach acids. Once bulimia is checked, some teeth may need to be restored. If the loss of enamel is interrupted at an early stage, it may be replaced with the use of materials called composite resin or amalgam. More serious demineralization may require tooth extraction. Lost teeth can be replaced by bridges or implants.

Some problems tend to occur along with bulimia. For example, three-quarters of the bulimics present with anxiety disorders and pictures of depression. People with bulimia may also develop addiction to alcohol and drugs. These problems can also affect your dental health and any medication to treat them can interfere with your dental treatment plan. Tell your dentist about any medications you are taking and their doses.


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