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Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that harms your overall health and is particularly destructive to teeth. It involves secret repeated binge eating followed by purging-self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, fasting, diuretics or diet pills. The digestive system contains strong acids that break down food. When vomiting is used to purge food from the body, these acids attack tooth enamel.

Over time, this loss of tooth enamel can be considerable, and the teeth change in color, shape and length. They can also become brittle, translucent and sensitive to temperature. The salivary glands may swell, causing the jaw to widen and appear squarish. Lips may become reddened, dry and cracked, and the patient may also experience chronic dry mouth.

The frequent vomiting and nutritional deficiencies often associated with eating disorders can severely affect oral health. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, studies find up to 89 percent of bulimic patients have signs of tooth erosion, due to the effects of powerful stomach acid.

Bulimia is often accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:

•Binge eating of high-carbohydrate foods, usually in secret
•Exercising for hours
•Eating until you are painfully full
•Going to the bathroom during meals
•Loss of control over eating, with guilt and shame
•Body weight that goes up and down
•Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, abdominal pain
•Irregular menstruation or lack of menstrual periods
•Damaged tooth enamel
•Bad breath
•Sore throat or mouth sores

Brushing after episodic vomiting is actually more harmful than one would think. The best practice is to rinse thoroughly with a neutral solution such as baking soda and water.

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