Signs That An Eating Disorder May Be Damaging Your Teeth

November 5th, 2015

Signs That An Eating Disorder May Be Damaging Your TeethYou might be surprised that a dental office is writing about eating disorders. But eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa can devastate your teeth, gums and overall oral health. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), about 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder for a period of time in their lives in the US. That’s a lot of people suffering with a disorder that can seriously damage not only your teeth, but your entire life.
Dentists are often the first people to discover that a patient has an eating disorder because the signs are so obvious. We’re going to take a look at some of those signs today.

What are eating disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are illnesses that cause extreme changes to your daily diet, such as eating very small amounts of food everyday or severe overeating. A person with an eating disorder may be able to alter their diet with small changes at first, but at some point the urge to eat less or more becomes uncontrollable.
Some of the most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating. Anorexia nervosa usually involves a severe and distorted fear of becoming fat or gaining weight. People with anorexia may not be fat at all, or may even be underweight. This fear can lead the person to undereat, exercise excessively, or purge after eating by forcing themselves to throw up or use laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
Bulimia nervosa typically involves seemingly uncontrollable overeating (binging) followed by purging with self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or using laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
The American Dental Association notes that eating disorders are caused by various physical, emotional and social issues and focus on body image, food and weight, along with many other issues. Eating disorders are much more complicated than whether someone is overweight, underweight or anywhere in between.

What are some signs that an eating disorder is damaging your teeth?

Eating disorders can wreak havoc on your entire body, including your teeth. While it may be hard for parents to tell if their child has an eating disorder, it’s typically obvious to dentists after a certain period of time. Many of the dental issues that come along with eating disorders are caused by stomach acids damaging your teeth as a result of vomiting. But nutritional deficiencies caused by under eating are also terrible for your dental health.
Here are a few signs that an eating disorder is damaging your oral health and teeth:

  • Xerostomia, or dry mouth symptom, caused by enlarged salivary glands
  • Tooth decay and enamel erosion, especially in the inside of the upper front teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, thinning and chipping due to enamel erosion
  • Tooth discoloration and/or change in the shape or size of your teeth
  • Mouth sores that may bleed easily
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tender mouth and throat
  • Dry, red and cracked lips

Treating eating disorders

Though your dentist may be able to temporarily improve the dental damage caused by eating disorders, there’s not much they can do to heal your teeth in the long run if the eating disorder continues. The best thing you can do is see an experienced and skilled therapist that specializes in eating disorders. Since eating disorders are complicated and vary from person to person, it’s very important that someone who suffers with an eating disorder speak with an expert as soon as possible.
To reduce the effects of purging on your teeth, don’t brush your teeth right after you vomit. The acids from your stomach erode your enamel, and brushing your teeth immediately afterwards can make enamel erosion even worse. Instead, immediately wash out your mouth with club soda, a sugar-free mouthwash, or, as a last resort, water. This will help neutralize the stomach acids. 30 minutes later, gently brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
If you think you might have an eating disorder, it’s important that you seek professional help as soon as possible before irreversible damage is done. Along with damaging your relationships, mental health, self-esteem, and physical body, eating disorders can also result in death.
Please don’t be afraid to visit Water Tower Dental Care or contact us if you’re worried about how your diet is affecting your teeth and oral health. We have seen many patients with eating disorders and would love to inspect your mouth to let you know how your teeth are doing.
We also work with a Behavioral Health Care Center in our office that specializes in eating disorders, called ASCENDchc. Together, we can put you on the path to a healthier life.

What to Look For in Your Toothbrush

September 18th, 2014

What to Look For in Your ToothbrushHow often do you find yourself standing in the aisle of your local pharmacy scanning an entire wall of toothbrushes? How do you know which toothbrush to choose? When looking for the right toothbrush, there are some factors you should consider and others you can completely ignore. Here are our top suggestions for finding the best toothbrush for you.


The size of your toothbrush should coincide with the size of your mouth. Many people with smaller mouths don’t realize that a toothbrush with too large of head can make it very difficult and uncomfortable for them to brush their teeth, especially when trying to reach those back molars. For a person with a larger mouth, however, a smaller toothbrush head could make it difficult to reach and cover all teeth.
The best way to determine a good head size for your toothbrush is simple trial and error. If you’re replacing your toothbrush and aren’t happy with its size, try a smaller or bigger toothbrush, depending on the size you have now (i.e. change big from small, or vice versa). You may be surprised to find out how much the size of your toothbrush can improve your brushing experience.

Bristle Strength

While you may not think about bristle strength at all, or think that tough bristles are the best way to scrub your teeth clean, bristle strength is actually a major factor in choosing a toothbrush. Often, that means choosing softer bristles.
The reason softer bristles are sometimes a better choice is that they are easier on your gums. While your teeth may be able to handle tough bristles, your gums can be damaged very easily by harsh brushing. It’s better to consider a medium bristle strength toothbrush to use. There are also soft bristle toothbrushes, however you should only use those if your dentist recommends it.

The Toothbrush's Handle

Bright colors or a translucent handle might look fun, but they have very little to do with what toothbrush you should buy. When considering the handle, make sure the neck reaches long enough so that you can easily brush your back teeth. The neck should also be slightly angled from the handle. Notice the grip on the handle too. A cushioned, non-slip surface works well for people with arthritis and those with a bad grip.


You’re probably surprised by the range of costs every time you go to buy a toothbrush (especially the high-priced toothbrushes). Don’t be fooled into thinking the most expensive toothbrush is also your best option. While they may look shiny and new with bright colors and a curved handle, most expensive toothbrushes won’t do much more than a cheaper toothbrush that works for your mouth. In fact, an expensive toothbrush could be less effective depending on the needs of your teeth and gums. It’s better to consider the above options and find a toothbrush that works for you.

Electric Toothbrushes Are the Best Option

Though there are many toothbrush options out there, electric toothbrushes are by far the most efficient at cleaning your teeth. The pulsations from the brush break up plaque much better than manual scrubbing does, and their advanced designs allow for easier access to hard-to-reach areas, such as the backs of molars and gum lines. Many electric toothbrushes, such as SoniCare, also have built in timers to ensure that you’re brushing for as long as you need to. We highly recommend that you invest in an electric toothbrush.
When considering these factors while buying a toothbrush, that big selection of toothbrushes in the pharmacy aisle becomes a lot smaller and easier to handle. If you have any more questions on how you should pick your toothbrush, or would like a dentist to recommend the right toothbrush for you, stop by Water Tower Dental. We can sit you down for a routine check-up and help you determine the path to a brighter, whiter smile.