If you have bulimia and purge through vomiting, you may cause damage to your teeth over time. While it may take some time to get your condition under control, you can reduce its negative effects on your teeth immediately with a few simple steps.
Counter the Effects of Acid on Your Teeth
When you vomit, you don't just throw up the food you've recently eaten, you also throw up some acids from your stomach. Your teeth don't react well to acid exposure, especially if you're throwing up regularly. These acids can erode the enamel on your teeth, making them more sensitive, changing their appearance and making them prone to dental problems like decay.
You can minimise potential damage from these acid attacks while you're trying to manage your bulimia by taking steps to wash the acids away or to reduce the damage they can cause. For example, you may find it useful to try the following tips after you've vomited:
- Swish water around your mouth like a mouthwash and then spit it. The water helps wash acids off your teeth and helps you get them out of your mouth.
- Put a teaspoon of baking soda in water and use it like a mouthwash. Baking soda is an alkali that can neutralise stomach acids. This reduces the harm that acids can do to your teeth.
- Use a fluoride mouthwash or smear a bit of fluoridated toothpaste over your teeth. Fluoride can help keep your enamel in good shape.
- If you're OK chewing gum, try using a piece of sugar-free gum after you vomit. This helps increase your saliva, which may wash some of the acids off your teeth. Gums containing xylitol also help protect against tooth decay and may help repair damaged enamel.
Don't Make Acid Attacks Worse
While it's a good idea to counter the negative effects that stomach acids can have on your teeth, you need to be careful not to make things worse. For example, you may want to freshen up your mouth after vomiting by cleaning your teeth. This isn't a great thing to do straight after a purge. Your stomach acids weaken your enamel; brushing on weakened enamel may add to potential erosion damage.
It's best to wait at least an hour after you vomit before you brush your teeth. If you want to get rid of the nasty taste in your mouth, try rinsing with a mouthwash or smear toothpaste over your teeth. Don't be tempted to drink fizzy drinks or juices. These may bring more acid into your mouth.
If you are worried about how your bulimia may affect the health of your teeth or have already started to see some damage, it's a good idea to visit your dentist. Your dentist can treat any areas of concern before they get worse and can give you advice on how to manage your oral care to best protect your teeth in the future.