When we think of dental health, we often think of brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. However, what many people don’t realize is that dental and mental health are closely linked. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, research shows that those with mental illness are 2.7 times more prone to poor oral health, and at higher risk of losing their teeth early. In this blog, we’ll explore the connection between dental and mental health, and what steps you can take to maintain both.
The Connection Between Dental and Mental Health
First, let’s take a look at the ways in which mental illness can impact oral health. One of the most significant ways is through neglect. Conditions like depression can cause a lack of motivation or energy to take care of yourself. Those who suffer from depression may find it difficult to get out of bed, let alone brush their teeth every day. This can lead to a buildup of plaque, cavities, and gum disease, which will lead to more severe oral health issues if left untreated.
Some mental illness medications that may cause side effects that impact oral health. Antidepressants, for example, may cause dry mouth. This occurs when there is a lack of saliva, which is essential for neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. Without enough saliva, bacteria can thrive, leading to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
On the other side of things, there is also evidence to suggest that poor dental health can contribute to mental health issues. For instance, chronic pain caused by untreated dental problems may lead to anxiety and depression. Studies have found that people with poor oral health are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What You Can Do to Maintain Dental and Mental Health
Now that we understand the connection between dental and mental health, what can we do to maintain both? Here are some tips:
- Practice good oral hygiene: It is essential to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly. If you’re struggling with motivation, try setting a daily reminder or alarm on your phone.
- Stay hydrated: To combat dry mouth, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you’re on medication that causes dry mouth, talk to your doctor about potential solutions.
- Manage stress: Stress can have a significant impact on both mental and dental health. Try to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or therapy.
- Seek help when needed: If you’re struggling with mental illness, don’t hesitate to seek help from a doctor or therapist. Even just talking with a close friend or family member may provide some relief until you can access further treatment.
- Don’t ignore dental problems: If you’re experiencing dental pain or notice any changes in your oral health, don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
By practicing good oral hygiene, staying hydrated, managing stress, seeking help when needed, and not ignoring dental problems, you can maintain both your dental and mental health. Remember that caring for yourself is essential for overall well-being.
Do something good for your health and schedule a visit at Great Expressions Dental Center.