Oral health can affect your mental health in numerous ways. Dental anxiety is a common mental health issue that can prevent you from getting the oral care you need. But it can also result from dental trauma and poor oral health.
Other mental health disorders associated with poor oral health include depression and eating disorders.
Learn more about the link between oral and mental health and how the professionals at Valley Dental Care can help you manage your mental health issues with gentle, compassionate dental care.
Fear of visiting the dentist is a real phobia and can often lead to patients delaying or canceling dental appointments. Even if someone has healthy teeth, they may have anxiety over visiting the dentist, imagining the worst dental pain, having a fear of needles, or a gag reflex.
According to Kisely in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, half of all dentist patients experience anxiety about visits to the dentist.
Eating Disorders and Oral Health
A common group of mental health disorders that affect oral hygiene is eating disorders. A concern for those with eating disorders is dental erosion. Between 35 and 38% of patients with eating disorders suffer from tooth erosion. Patients most likely to have dental erosion are those with self-induced vomiting (SIV).
Overeating is another common eating disorder that can result in malnutrition and weight gain, increasing patients’ risk of developing conditions like type II diabetes. People with diabetes naturally have higher sugar levels in their saliva, making them more prone to tooth decay. Diabetics also have reduced immune function, making them more vulnerable to advanced periodontal disease.
People who overeat also tend to prefer foods with a high fat or sugar content. This can lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay.
Depression Patients and Oral Health
Issues related to depression include smoking, alcohol, and bruxism (teeth grinding). Tobacco and alcohol can alter your mouth’s microbiome, reducing saliva production and increasing bacterial growth.
This can elevate your risk for severe decay and gum disease. Smoking is also linked with gum recession which exposes the tooth root to acid wear. Tooth root caries and infections can lead to an abscess, becoming life-threatening sepsis if left untreated.
Patients who suffer from depression also often have dental caries from bacteria, a side effect of poor oral hygiene due to self-neglect.
Further Implications of Mental Health on Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene can significantly impact the quality of life for mental health patients. Pain in the teeth or dentures that don’t fit properly can cause social withdrawal, low self-esteem, isolation, and issues with eating and speaking.
They may feel ashamed of how they look and hide their teeth when they smile. An article from the International Journal of Mental Health Systems says that other risk factors for poor mental health include housing insecurity, poverty, unemployment, and social isolation, resulting in a lack of dental care.
Reduce Anxiety With a Smile
One easy way to reduce anxiety and depression is to try to smile. Confidence and higher self-esteem can mitigate mental health struggles, and Valley Dental Care can help restore your smile to good as new.
Anxiety may make you reluctant to smile, but a visit to the dentist can quickly change that attitude. The dentists at Valley Dental Care can help you be proud of your smile, feel good about yourself, and be comfortable during your dentist visit.
We offer sedation dentistry to help you feel calm and comfortable during any dental procedure. Talk to your dentist to find out more about inhalation and IV sedation.
Call us today and begin your journey to a healthy and happy smile.