Eating Disorders and Your Dental Health

A Sutton Coldfield’s dentist’s evaluation of the harm caused by eating disorders

It is thought that there are around a million people in the UK who suffer from an eating disorder. This especially affects young girls who may be led by images of the ‘perfect’ superstars that they see on the TV and in teen magazines. As those of us who are somewhat older are aware though, many of these ‘perfect’ stars have paid a high price for their looks and some of them have suffered eating disorders in a desperate attempt to stay thin.

Although we don’t wish to go into great detail about the illnesses here, needless to say, they can have devastating effects on both the sufferer and those around them, and can, if left untreated, lead to an early demise as the body’s organs gradually cease to function effectively.

Dental Issues

Thankfully, many sufferers of eating disorders do get diagnosed and treated and get their life back on track. Sometimes, however, some damage will have been done and one of the areas that is likely to be affected is the person’s teeth.

One obvious factor is the detrimental effect these illnesses have on a person’s teeth due to a lack of nutrition. Without sufficient calcium, along with the numerous vitamins and minerals that are needed for healthy teeth and bones, the person’s teeth will be weakened and significantly more likely to become damaged.

It isn’t just the teeth that are affected though; the gums also are likely to suffer and have been known to bleed in anorexia and bulimia patients. Add to this the dry mouth that many eating disorder sufferers experience and you have a perfect recipe for the rapid breeding of the bacteria in the mouth which cause gum disease. In some cases this will lead to a loss of teeth and the need for replacements using techniques like implants or dentures.

In bulimia sufferers, the effects of constant vomiting too will wear away the enamel on the teeth as the acids from the stomach pass through them on a regular basis.

As most sufferers of this illness experience a significant level of low self esteem, they are very likely, when binge eating, to focus on ‘feel good’ foods which contain a high amount of sugar. This too will inevitably lead to decay and the need for a significant amount of dental treatment.


It is not our place to discuss the recovery of eating disorder sufferers and expert medical advice should, quite naturally, be sought. We do however feel that our dental expertise can help people during the recovery process. It would seem that low self esteem is a significant factor in the cause of this illness and enabling a person to look their best and, of course, to be able to eat effectively, plays an important part in this.

Whilst damage may have already been done to the teeth, there are many ‘cosmetic’ options such as dental veneers or implants that can help to restore the appearance and functionality of a person’s teeth very effectively.

For more information about what Arthur House Dental Care in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham can do for you, please contact us on 0121 323 4492.