and Your Oral Health
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
- An eating and psychiatric compulsive disorder.
- Periods of normal eating followed by dieting
or severe restrictions of food intake often ending in binge-eating.
- Binge-eating episodes must occur at least twice
a week for 3 months to be diagnosed as bulimia nervosa.
- Weight gain is controlled by self-induced vomiting,
strict fasting, vigorous exercise and abuse of laxatives or diuretics.
Who Suffers From It?
- 14 out of 100,000 people suffer from bulimia
- Primarily affects adolescent and young adult
females. (1-4% of females between 18-30 years suffer from it)
- 1 in 10 patients are male.
- 1/3 of those who suffer from bulimia nervosa
have a history of anorexia nervosa.
- 1/3 of those who suffer from bulimia nervosa
have a history of obesity.
Why Do People Suffer From
- Bulimics have an obsession with weight, food
- Bulimics realize they have abnormal eating habits
but get addicted to the binge-eating, purge cycle and lose control.
What Are Some Signs of Bulimia
Nervosa in the Body?
- Changing weight gain of 5-20 pounds per week.
- Dry lips and skin around the mouth.
- Swollen lymph nodes and parotid gland enlargement.
- Broken blood vessels in an around eyes (blood
shot eyes) due to stretch and strain of repeated vomiting.
- Callous on or near the first knuckle of the
index finger due to pushing against the upper teeth to induce vomiting.
What are Some Signs of Bulimia
Nervosa in the Mouth?
What are Some Ways to Improve
the Problems in the MouthAssociated with Bulimia Nervosa?
- To prevent further wearing of teeth, do not
brush teeth after vomiting, rinse with water instead.
- Use a basic rinse, such as baking soda and water;
immediately after vomiting to neutralize the acid.
- Reduce sugar in diet.
- Remove plaque by brushing and flossing properly.
- Chew sugarless gum to increase salivary flow
or use an artificial saliva.
- Use fluoride either in toothpastes, rinses or
gels to reduce sensitivity of teeth and build resistance to decay
What Are Some Other Behaviors
and Disorders That Could Cause Similar Signs in the Mouth?
- Tooth grinding may cause teeth to wear away.
- Sucking on lemons or citrus foods may cause
just the front teeth to wear away.
- Certain drugs and diseases may cause dry mouth
and burning of the tongue.
- Severe infections, certain drugs, vitamin C
deficiencies and hot foods may cause lesions on the palate or gums.
- Frequent and vigorous tooth brushing may cause
recession of the gums.
- Many other agents, such as coffee and smoking
discolor the teeth.
- Periodontal disease and chemotherapy may cause
bleeding of the gums.
How Might an Individual Identify
a Bulimic Person?
- On average, bulimic patients brush their teeth
more than twice a day and may also brush their teeth each time they
vomit; up to 7-8 times/day.
- Chronic gum chewing (7-8 packs/day), compulsive
use of mouthwash, increased diet soda intake (10-12 cans/day), ice
chewing and nail biting.
- Complaints of dizziness, thirst and fainting
due to dehydration
- Complaints of muscle cramps and weakness.
- Complaints of heartburn and abdominal pain.
- Complaints of sensitive teeth and sore throat.
What Are Some Complications of
- 35-70% of bulimics suffer from depression.
- May begin to abuse alcohol or drugs.
- May lose some sense of taste.
- May be dehydrated due to vomiting an/or laxative
and diuretic abuse.
- May be constipated and rely on laxatives for
- May vomit without inducing it, preventing bulimics
from eating in public.
- May have an irregular heartbeat.
- May be at a higher risk for heart attacks.
- May become life threatening.
When Do Bulimics Seek Help?
- Initially they may seek help for the problems
associated with bulimia nervosa.
- Less than 1/3 of those who have bulimia nervosa
will seek help; either on their own or due to intervention, often
waiting many years, usually because they are desperate for relief
from something they canít control or overcome.
Who and What May Be Involved
in the Treatment?
- Psychiatrists, psychologists, gastroenterologists,
dieticians and dental professionals.
- Psychological treatment is a major component.
- Dental treatment should occur immediately if
the patient is in pain or if there is extensive tooth loss.
- Dental treatment may be discouraged until the
patient is psychologically ready and the eating disorder is controlled.
What Are the Long-Term Implications
of Bulimia Nervosa?
- Estimated 40-50% of bulimics who undergo treatment
are thought to be no longer preoccupied with food and their weight
and are considered cured.
- Death is more likely in bulimia nervosa than
other eating disorders (such as anorexia) due to the greater incidence
of more serious medical complications.
- Suicide rates are higher in persons with bulimia
nervosa than other eating disorders because depression occurs more
For more information, please
read the Stages of Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
site is intended as general information only and should not
replace regular consultation with Dr.Talcott or the
Dental Hygienist. Copyright ©
2003 Dr Bob Talcott, DDS
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