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woman's hands tied due to eating disorders

Eating disorders and their dental impact

Eating disorders have a negative impact on a person’s way of life and on their dental health. It is estimated that up to 600,000 Canadians suffer from some type of eating disorder.  Eating disorders are seeing a rise in Canada.  Many sufferers often do not understand the importance of getting help.  If they do want treatment, some are unsure where to go for help.  If the problem is identified early on, treatment can be done before too much damage occurs.  Eating disorders result in not eating enough or overeating, purging the food to avoid weight gain.  These type of habits can ruin your body and in some cases, they can be fatal.


Anorexia is an extreme fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.  People with anorexia try to keep a low body weight by reducing their diet.  Over exercising and binge eating followed by purging through vomiting or laxatives, diuretics or enemas is also common.


Bulimia is when a person has periods of binge eating or overeating during the day.  The amount of food and caloric intake is excessive compared to a normal diet . After overeating, purging follows to avoid weight gain. Up to 89% of sufferers show signs of tooth erosion due to acid wear.

Binge Eating

This involves rapid intake of large amounts of food.  Repeated binge eating can be tied to feelings of guilt and shame.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders rob the body of needed minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients. Symptoms include rapid weight loss, eating in secrecy, feeling cold, constipation and hair loss.  Eating disorders can also cause physical health complications, like heart conditions and kidney failure. This can be fatal in some cases.

Frequent vomiting can affect oral health.  There is usually a breakdown of the tooth’s enamel which results in changes to the shade of the tooth and the shape. Teeth can also become brittle.  Salivary glands can swell, this can widen the jaw and result in a square appearance. Lips are usually dry and cracked as well. Bleeding in the mouth also occurs easily. Teeth typically become sensitive to hot and cold foods.

Treatment of Eating Disorders

A team of healthcare professionals usually treats eating disorders. Their dentist advises sufferers about the need for thorough oral health care. People who purge through vomiting should not brush their teeth immediately after vomiting. Brushing right after vomiting will erode more of the tooth’s enamel. This is because the stomach acid that made contact with the tooth, will weaken the enamel. Rinsing with baking soda will help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid. An oral exam will aid in identifying the need for the use of additional fluoride or any other dental treatment. Sufferers should see a dentist routinely to monitor their oral condition.

Contact us if you believe your oral health may be at risk or if you would like to know about available treatment options.

About Dr. Joseph Salvaggio

Dr. Joseph Salvaggio, DDS

Located in Brampton, Ontario Dr. Joseph Salvaggio has been practicing general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry for over 20 years. He enjoys interacting with his patients and helping to restore their oral health for better overall health as well. Meeting new patients, interacting and educating them is one of Dr. Salvaggio’s biggest joys. We encourage you to read our reviews or call us with any dental questions you have. We look forward to speaking with you and meeting you soon.

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