Derek Dean, DDS, MS
Glen Dean, DDS
Grant Butler, DMD

Dental Complications From Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are hazardous for the health of teeth. Many sufferers experience dental complications that can take a lifetime and a fortune to repair. Here is some information on the dangers of eating disorders for your oral health.

bathroom scale with measuring tape coiled on top.

Bad Breath

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia lead to nutritional deficiencies. When the body is not absorbing important nutrients, it will cause problems. Bad breath is just one of those problems associated with nutritional deficiency.

Broken and Missing Teeth

If purging is a problem, it will lead to major acid erosion of the enamel of teeth. The enamel is the white, outer layer of your teeth. Stomach acid is extremely abrasive. When it comes in contact with teeth, it will weaken and demineralize them. This may lead to broken or cracked teeth and cavities. Eating disorders that cause nutritional deficiency may also weaken teeth. A lack of calcium absorption in the body may lead to gum disease and fragile teeth. Proper nutrition and absorption are vital to oral health.

Dry Mouth

Eating disorders cause the salivary glands to become swollen and dysfunctional. This will lessen saliva production and cause dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath.


Arthritis of the jaw is one possible side effect of eating disorders. The temporomandibular joint will be difficult to move and bring chronic pain to anyone suffering from degenerative arthritis.

Lasting Damage Costs

Having teeth replaced from an early age can cost thousands for years to come. Dental implants, bridges and crowns, and porcelain veneers can be costly. Imagine if all of your teeth were damaged from an early age and ALL of them needed to be replaced. Eating disorders are an incredible expense when it comes to your teeth. The demineralization alone puts them at risk for decay and breakage. It can be hard to salvage them once this occurs.

As dental professionals, we want to know when our patients are suffering from an eating disorder. We come into contact with these diseases often and there is no reason to be ashamed. There is help available for all those who need it from doctors and mental health professionals. Please do let us know if this is a condition that affects you so that we can steer you in the right direction and help you preserve your teeth.

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