Dental Education Needed for Patients with Bulimia


In a survey of women with bulimia, an eating disorder associated with vomiting, more than 90 percent said they had dental problems. It has previously been found that vomiting can cause issues with tooth enamel and mouth sores, among other oral problems.

However, while nearly all of the women were concerned with the effect on their mouth by the vomiting, less than one-third had discussed their concerns with a dentist. This is important because the women may be taking the wrong approach to their oral care.

Nearly one-third of the survey respondents brushed their teeth after vomiting. However, brushing is not recommended.  Brushing can spread the stomach acids found in the vomit over the teeth. The safer approach, according the American Dental Association, is the rinse one's mouth with baking soda because it neutralizes the acid.

The need for education is significant because millions of Americans have eating disorders, including bulimia. Moreover, nearly 90 percent of those suffering from bulimia will have conditions of worn tooth enamel. This can affect the teeth's color, shape, brittleness, and sensitivity to temperatures.  In addition, dry mouth associated with bulimia can contribute to tooth decay.

The study authors suggest education and the the development guidelines for the discussion of eating disorders with patients, and in the case of minors, with their parents or guardians.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.



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