Bulimia nervosa, often referred to simply as bulimia, is an eating disorder that involves binge eating followed by purging. Purging essentially means attempting to rid your stomach of as much food as possible by inducing vomiting. It’s a serious issue that affects millions of people, and it can seriously impact the health of your teeth.

Here are just a few ways your teeth are damaged by the repeated purging associated with bulimia.

Decay

People often fail to think about how strong their stomach acid is. If you only vomit when you’re actually sick, it’s not something you need to worry about, but repeated exposure of your teeth to stomach acid can wear away their enamel. It’s the enamel that protects your teeth, and it’s impossible to replace it once it’s gone. Decay and cavities can result from bulimia, especially since people often brush right after purging to get rid of the smell – brushing right after contact with stomach acid removes more enamel.

Discoloration

The corrosive nature of your tooth enamel stains your teeth, and the loss of surface enamel makes it easier for regular food and drink to leave stains. As such, people who suffer from bulimia often end up with yellowish teeth.  As enamel erosion grows more serious, teeth can even take on a slightly translucent, glassy appearance.

Brittleness

If your teeth are being regularly bathed in stomach acid, they will start to weaken. You may notice the edges growing ragged as small chips are formed whenever your teeth meet each other. Large chips and fractures will also be more likely, and excessive erosion can even change the length and shape of your teeth.

Gum Recession

Your gums are quite sensitive, and they can become very irritated through frequent purging. As a result, the gums will often start to recede. This is a problem in its own right, and it also leaves your teeth more vulnerable.  As the gums recede, they expose the lower parts of your teeth that aren’t designed to protect themselves against decay and bacteria.