A Root Canal

Eating Disorders And Dental Conditions: What To Know

Anorexia, binge eating, and bulimia can all cause serious damage to multiple body areas, including the mouth, teeth, and gums. If you think a family member is suffering from an eating disorder (or know they are), read on and find out more.

Anorexia Nervosa 

This disorder causes sufferers to limit their food intake to the point of near starvation. Those with anorexia may feel overweight regardless of their actual weight. You might notice a person suffering from this disorder not only restricting their caloric intake but also exercising constantly to burn calories. They may also take laxatives to excess and vomit after eating.

Binge Eating

This disorder used to be called food addiction. However, more research has revealed that it's a far more complex issue than just eating too much food. Binge eaters don't usually enjoy themselves when they binge on their food of choice. They plan their binges and often suffer from feelings of shame and regret after binging. They seldom induce vomiting afterward.


This eating disorder involves cycles of binging and then purging. It combines binge eating with vomiting soon after — before the contents of the stomach are digested and calories are processed.

Eating Disorders and Dental Issues

All eating disorders can mean nutritional deficits that will affect overall health, which in turn can affect dental health. Some examples of the negative effects of eating disorders on dental health include:

  • Cavities
  • Dry mouth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Damaged tooth enamel
  • Mouth and lip sores

Stomach acids from vomiting often are very harmful to enamel. The result can be discolored and weak teeth that tend to crack, break, and decay more often.

Dental Interventions

While dentists are not equipped to treat eating disorders themselves, they are in a great position to notice the signs of eating disorders and bring them to the attention of the patient or their loved ones. Dental hygienists and dentists themselves are trained to recognize the signs of eating disorders. They can also treat dental problems in those with eating disorders in a caring and understanding manner. However, the damage caused by eating disorders goes well beyond dental issues. The below issues can be signs of an eating disorder that may be noticed by your dental team:

  • Bruising in the mouth (possibly caused by forcing objects into the mouth to cause vomiting).
  • Signs of tooth enamel erosion.
  • Discoloration of the mouth and gums.
  • Cracked teeth caused by trauma.

To learn more, speak to a dentist.