Understanding how our oral health influences us is vital towards maintaining healthy teeth and gums. But can cavities contribute to depression? Does gum disease have any connection to those with anxiety? Some research suggests that there is a link between your oral health and mental health, suggesting that having better oral health can contribute to better management of mental health symptoms, and having poor health can contribute to mental illness. In some cases, even certain mental illnesses can even cause oral health issues.
As mental health becomes more visible, we’re here to help enlighten our patients about the link between mental health and oral health, help best inform you on how you can care for your teeth if you have any signs of a mental health condition, and emphasize why scheduling appointments with your dentist matters.
How Dentistry and Mental Health Connect
When it comes to observing how mental health contributes to oral health, their relationship is a cycle. Research from the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry source that patients with mental health illnesses will be less likely to care for their physical health, depriving the body of nutrition, routine, and other healthy habits to have better overall health. Experiencing a mental illness can lead to a lack of physical care, including brushing one’s teeth, and those with poor mental health management also experience poor nutrition, drug misuse, and financial issues that ultimately block them from having healthier lifestyles. With these factors, gum disease and tooth decay become more prominent among mental health patients.
The same applies in reverse, where neglecting your physical health can also contribute to mental and emotional problems. In many ways, mental health can lead to poorer dental health by:
- Creating scenarios of self-neglect, resulting in cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease
- Alcohol and drug abuse leading to tooth erosion and decay
- Over-brushing is a symptom of bipolar disorder, leading to damaged gums and dental abrasions
- Anorexia and other eating disorders can contribute to enamel erosion and tooth decay from stomach acids
- Medications leading to side effects and a greater risk of oral infections
Helping Patients Through Oral Health Problems
When speaking with your dentist, know that your mental health issues are valid and important. Because of these links between oral health and mental health, speaking with your dentist about your oral health can help your dentist better understand their patients and provide better long-term treatment plans. Maintaining your routine visits is vital for better oral health. Regular exams and cleanings will be able to provide you with the foundation for healthier teeth and gums and give you the assurance you need to have a balanced approach to both your mouth, your body, and your mind.
If you have any questions or concerns about your teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist for more information, and your dentist can give you the steps you need to have a healthy smile and better management of your mental health.