How Can Your Dentist Help You Recover From Bulimia?

If you receive treatment for bulimia, you may want to make positive changes in your life to strengthen your physical and emotional health. But one of the problems you may not consider right away is your dental health. The dangerous acids produced by your eating disorder can damage your teeth enamel by causing tooth decay and enamel erosion. When you don't receive the proper dental treatments, you risk a setback with your medical treatment because the appearance of your teeth may hinder your emotional recovery. Here's why you should read more and follow through with your dental care and why.

How Important Is Your Dentist?

Your primary doctor helps you achieve a healthy body by encouraging you to seek nutritional counseling, physical therapy and other valuable treatments. A psychiatrist or mental health professional focuses on strengthening your emotional and personal health. However, a general or family dentist is the best source to seek out when you need to improve your oral health and appearance.

If you visit your dentist regularly, he or she may be the first person to notice that you have an eating disorder by noting how your teeth look. Severe acid erosion of the enamel is often a telltale sign of bulimia. However, if you skip visits because you want to hide your condition from a dentist, he or she may be one of the last people to help you. Once the dentist accepts your referral, he or she may request specific information from your doctor regarding your bulimia, such as the treatments you receive for it.

Certain treatments or problems associated with bulimia can greatly affect the treatments your dentist provide. For instance, if you use medical treatments like intravenous feedings to gain weight because you refuse to keep food down, your dentist may want to know about this.  

Although they keep you nourished, intravenous feedings may not offer the right amount of calcium and vitamin D your teeth need to maintain their strength and integrity. The dentist may prescribe nutritional supplements during your dental care to make up for the loss.

If you suffer from substantial calcium and vitamin D loss, the dentist may work with your nutritionist to develop a daily nutritional plan. The plan may include:

  • Whole milk to help you gain weight and strengthen your teeth
  • Kale, spinach and other nutrient-rich vegetables that encourage stronger bone growth in your jaws, which helps prevent tooth loss
  • Kiwi, apricots and other calcium-fortified fruits

Additionally, your medical doctor may prescribe medications to treat any stomach ulcers and acid reflux you have from vomiting or binging on food. These issues develop when the acids in your stomach rise up into the throat. If you repeatedly vomit or binge your meals, they can create sores inside the esophagus, on the tongue and on the roof of your mouth.

Your dental provider needs to know if the doctor has the above digestive issues under control, or if they require ongoing treatment to manage. Stomach acids can potentially damage the delicate, all-porcelain materials used by the dentist to repair cavities and tooth erosion not caused by an eating disorder. Your dentist may use stronger restorations that don't wear down under acids, such as metal tooth caps to repair your back teeth. Tooth bonding materials may work best for your front teeth because the material is replaceable when damaged.

What Steps Can You Take at Home to Manage Your Dental Health?

You can help your body and mouth recover by taking steps at home to manage your dental health. If your dentist hasn't already, ask him or her about fluoride treatments you can use during the day. Fluoride protects your teeth from future enamel loss as you recover from your eating disorder. 

Also, invest in an electric water flosser and electric toothbrush. These oral care items work hard to remove plaque, bacteria and acid from your teeth because they reach areas of the mouth, such as your back teeth, effortlessly.

As you recover from your eating disorder, you may not have the hand strength or ability to brush or floss properly. You lose the nutrients your body needs to maintain healthy muscle strength through binging. Additionally, your gums may become temporarily sore from any dental treatments you undergo.

If you have additional questions or concerns about bulimia or your dental care, speak to a dentist immediately. Getting your overall health and well-being back on track is essential.