Oral care behavior after purging in a sample of women with bulimia nervosa

Jenny H. Conviser*, Sheehan David Fisher, Kristin B. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background. Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a mental health disorder associated with serious dental problems. The authors surveyed patients with a diagnosis of BN about their oral health behaviors after purging and their perspectives on barriers to patient-initiated discussion of eating disorders (EDs) with oral health professionals (OHPs). Methods. A convenience sample of women with BN who were receiving treatment at major ED treatment centers (those centers that are members of the Academy of Eating Disorders, Deerfield, Ill.) completed a 45-item, self-reported online survey that the authors use to assess oral care behaviors after purging, dental problems and barriers to communication with their dentists. Inclusion criteria were being 18 years or older, female and a U.S. resident, as well as having a clinical diagnosis of BN. A sample of 292 women began the survey, and 201 (68.8 percent) completed the survey. Results. The survey results indicated that 32.5 percent of participants reported brushing their teeth immediately after purging, which is contraindicated. Although 92.4 percent of participants acknowledged having dental problems, only 29.2 percent of these participants discussed their BN with a dentist. Conclusions. The survey results show that although participants with BN had a high level of concern about their oral health and a high incidence of oral health problems, less than one-third considered their OHPs to be the most helpful source of oral health information. Practical Implications. OHPs must be educated about how to approach patients when an ED is suspected, develop practice protocols for discussing secondary prevention with patients and develop practice policies about disclosing ED (for example, purging) to a parent or guardian.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-354
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Bulimia
  • Communication
  • Dental erosion
  • Eating disorders
  • Oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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