My Dentist Thinks I’m Bulimic


disclaimer: i take good care of my teeth. i brush, floss (when i remember), and use mouth wash. i go to the dentist fairly regularly. i go more now that i have a dentist that i LOVE down here in charleston. i abhorred the one back home because, well, they were all assholes.

while i was in college, i took care of my teeth. what i did not realize was that a tongue ring (kept it for 2 years and then ditched it) and excessive drinking (which leads to excessive puking) will take a toll on your teeth. i ignored all warnings because… i was 19. reasonable answer, right?

as a result of my ignorance, i have a bunch of (like 12) tiny cavities that need to be taken care of–mostly little barely visible ones around the gum line and ones in the back that i can’t see. the “bad” ones were not visible but the dentist identified them immediately and filled them for me during my FIRST visit to their office, which was spectacular. that never happened at my old dentist. i should be all patched up within a couple weeks, and i can’t wait because this is one of the things i’m the most self-conscious about.

in my own defense, i didn’t even think about how bad puking would be for my teeth. during the summer of 2005, i would like to say that i didn’t drink every night, but it was damn close. it was disgusting, actually. it was my last summer living at home, i was working an EXTREMELY boring job at wake forest university, and… i was 19. again, good answer for everything. my job required little-to-no brain power, and i took that as the go-ahead to drink excessively while my schedule allowed it. i’d go out with my best friend jill or i’d go out dancing in greensboro, get home at 5 AM, and wake up at 6 AM hungover as hell. if i was lucky, i’d stop puking by 7:30 or 8 when i left for work. otherwise, i’d sometimes puke until 11 or even noon. i rarely remember not throwing up that summer. it never crossed my mind that the acid was just ruining my whole mouth.

and let’s not even get started on my trip to scandinavia in 2007. there was not a sober night in europe that month. there were maybe 5 or 6 non-puking days.

let it be said that i have a fairly wussy stomach. even 3-4 beers or a can of JOOSE! or FOUR Loko (do not drink it, i’m fairly certain it can kill a man) can still make me throw up at 23. jagermeister and rum make me throw up almost instantly, all alcohol aside. the taste is just putrid (in my opinion). it doesn’t take much; however, that doesn’t make up for my excessive stupidity.

so when the dentist asked the regular, “Do you drink a lot of soda?” my response was simply, “No, I throw up a lot.” which is true. but i probably should have expressed more clearly the reason i throw up a lot (a. i was 19, b. i was 21, and c. I’M A MORON).

his response? his response was, “You are a beautiful girl, you do not need to do that. I sincerely hope you have put an end to that, you look fine the way you are.”

i should have accepted his complement and left it at that, because the look on his face when i told him the real issue was far less endearing than the one i got when he thought i was bulimic, followed by the most patronizing hug slash pat on the back i’ve ever had in my life. go figure.


  • Linda Powell says:

    Jeez Whitney, what can I say – I'm just so darn proud.

  • ab_as_kl says:

    Small aside re too much puking: that woman in Florida was in a coma because she was inducing emesis in order to keep her weight down. Every time you throw up, your body loses all of the HCl (hydrochloric acid) currently in the stomach, and it has to make it again. The H+/K+ (hydrogen potassium pump) that replenishes the hydrochloric acid uses up a lot of potassium. Losing the potassium can make your heart behave erratically and can put you in a coma or kill you. That's the really really down downside of throwing up too much. I believe you that you're not bulimic, but I still recommend avoiding doing things that'll make you throw up.

    Yes I actually am a doctor (M.D.), and yes I'm also an information technology geek (EECS from MIT). Best wishes.

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