8 Ways in Which Eating Disorders Can Affect Your Dental Health

Did you know that eating disorder impacts your weight and dental health? The American
Academy of Periodontology reports that eating disorders affect oral health in several ways, including gingival inflammation and an increased risk for cavities. The National Eating Disorders Association reports tooth erosion and decay as common dental problems associated with eating disorders.

Eating disorders are medical conditions affecting your physical, emotional, and mental health. They cause malnutrition, lower energy levels, and an impaired immune system. If you have an eating disorder, seek professional help to prevent damage to your dental health.

Effects of Eating Disorders on Your Dental Health

Here’s how eating disorders can affect your dental health:

Tooth Erosion and Decay

A report published in the Journal of the American Dental Association shows that people with bulimia nervosa had a higher tooth erosion prevalence. Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa trigger tooth erosion and decay due to exposure of teeth to stomach acid. Bulimia nervosa induces vomiting, which releases stomach acid that wears away the enamel.

Bulimia and anorexia can also cause hypocalcemia, a decline in calcium levels in the body. A calcium deficiency can cause teeth to break down and become susceptible to cavities and erosion from acidic foods like orange juice or soda pop. You are likely to consume them when you have an eating disorder.

Gum Disease

Eating disorders provoke gum disease due to malnutrition and a weakened immune system. If you have eating disorders, you may not consume a balanced diet, causing deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals necessary for oral health. A lack of vitamin C can weaken gums and increase gum disease risk.

Frequent vomiting associated with bulimia nervosa damages the gums. When stomach acid repeatedly reaches the gums, it can cause inflammation, irritation, and gum disease.

A report published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found that individuals with malnutrition had a higher gum disease prevalence. To reduce the risk of this condition, you should eat a balanced diet and seek professional help.

Dry Mouth

Lack of saliva leads to increased bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Saliva helps protect the teeth from bacteria by washing away food particles and buffering acids from plaque. It also neutralizes acids from foods like citrus fruits or carbonated beverages. Without enough saliva, these acids linger on your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay.


This condition is where a person grinds or clenches their teeth unconsciously, often during sleep. Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder can cause bruxism due to physical and emotional stress.

People with eating disorders may experience malnutrition, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances, prompting the development of bruxism. Also, anxiety and stress associated with eating disorders can trigger teeth grinding.

Bruxism can cause many dental problems, including:

  • Tooth wear and damage
  • Gum recession
  • Toothaches
  • Tooth loss
  • Jaw pain
Jaw Bone Problem

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is associated with eating disorders. TMJ disorder affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. It causes pain, stiffness, and clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth. The exact cause of TMJ disorder is unclear, but risk factors include malnutrition and malnourishment.

Individuals with eating disorders restrict their food intake, leading to malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. Eating disorders make you more vulnerable to teeth grinding or clenching, increasing the risk of jaw bone problems.

Hot and Cold Teeth Sensitivity

Frequent vomiting from eating disorders can wear out the enamel causing teeth sensitivity. When the enamel is worn, the underlying layer gets exposed, leading to sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.

People with eating disorders tend to have poor oral hygiene habits, like not brushing their teeth regularly or using abrasive toothpaste, which can contribute to tooth sensitivity. Malnutrition, common in eating disorders patients, can also weaken the teeth and make them more susceptible to sensitivity.

Mouth Sores

It’s estimated that over 80% of bulimia patients have experienced mouth sores at some point. Mouth sores occur due to nutritional deficiencies and dehydration, which can present due to eating disorders. You can have nutritional deficiencies if you restrict your food intake or purge after meals.

It causes your mouth to become dry, leading to painful mouth sores. If you have an eating disorder and are dehydrated, your mouth can dry and crack, causing ulcers or other painful sores.

Ways to Prevent Eating Disorders from Affecting Your Dental Health

To prevent dental health problems caused by eating disorders, practice good nutrition, proper oral hygiene, and regular dental check-ups.

Here are some prevention tips to help maintain good dental health while dealing with an eating disorder:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss regularly to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums.
  • Avoid harmful behaviors: Avoid self-induced vomiting, excessive use of mouthwash or acidic beverages, and behaviors that can damage your teeth and gums.
  • Get treatment for your eating disorder: Seek professional help to address your eating disorder and develop healthy eating habits.
  • Use sensitivity toothpaste: If you experience hot and cold teeth sensitivity, use toothpaste for sensitive teeth to reduce discomfort.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to maintain saliva production and help protect your teeth and gums from bacteria.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: Dental check-ups help identify and treat dental problems before they become severe. Your dentist can also guide you on proper oral hygiene practices and offer treatments to help strengthen your teeth and gums.

Seek Professional Help

An eating disorder can affect your dental health in several ways, like tooth decay, sensitivity, enamel erosion, dry mouth, mouth soreness, and bruxism. You can quickly reverse and overcome the damage by seeking professional help from healthcare providers and therapists who address the underlying issues contributing to the habit.

Your dentists can also provide treatment options to prevent dental problems associated with eating disorders. Yet, it would be best to address the root cause for overall health and well-being.


Color Skin

Nav Mode