One of the most important parts of your overall health and wellness is your mental health. Recent studies are pinpointing a specific link between mental health and oral health. But what does one have to do with the other?
There are a variety of mental illnesses that can affect oral health and hygiene habits. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between oral health and mental health and how that may affect you.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the term that refers to a person’s emotional, psychological, and social wellness. If you are in a state of good mental health, it means that you are able to function well in your community and that you feel emotionally stable. You are able to cope with the ups and downs of life with relative ease and normal behaviors.
Poor mental health can mean that you are not emotionally stable and that the stresses of life can make it difficult for you to function normally and remain productive. It can negatively impact personal relationships as well as your professional life.
What is Oral Health?
Oral health refers to the health of your mouth, including your teeth, soft tissues, and jaw. Good oral health is defined by healthy teeth, healthy gums and other soft tissues of the mouth, and proper mobility of your jaw for chewing and speaking purposes. Oral health also means the absence of abnormalities that could indicate the presence or risk of oral cancer.
Signs of poor oral health include gum disease, tooth decay, TMJ disorder, or abnormal tissue growth. Loose or missing teeth is another indication of poor oral health.
Mental Illnesses and How They Impact Oral Health
Here are some examples of mental illnesses and how they can have an negative impact on a person’s oral health:
- Anxiety. A person may suffer from general anxiety or specific dental anxiety that causes them to avoid going to the dentist for routine care or necessary dental treatment.
- Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings that can affect a person’s ability to care for their teeth. People who suffer from bipolar disorder often brush their teeth too vigorously, which can wear away tooth enamel and gum tissue.
- Depression. A common symptom of depression is a lack of self care, and that often includes dental hygiene. Severe depression can cause a person to stay in bed for days and neglect their normal hygiene habits.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive compulsive disorder can cause a person to have unwanted obsessions, such as excessive teeth brushing. A person may brush their teeth too vigorously, too often, and for too long to the point where the enamel wears away the gum tissue becomes inflamed and recedes.
How Taking Medication for Mental Illness Can Affect Oral Health
Some medications that are prescribed for mental illness can cause dry mouth, a condition that results in a lack of saliva production. Dry mouth can cause a variety of dental and oral health issues including tooth decay and gum disease. When there is not enough saliva to effectively buffer the acids in your mouth that the bacteria is producing, you will get tooth decay.
Making Mental and Oral Health a Priority
If you struggle with mental health, you are not alone. 1 in 4 adults in America will have a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. The key is to be aware of it and seek treatment so that you can feel better and function more effectively. Talk therapy as well as medication can help with most mental disorders. When mental health is recognized and treated, it reduces the chances that your oral health will suffer as a result. Talk to your primary care physician or your dentist about your mental health concerns.
Why Choose Advanced Endodontics?
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the health of the teeth, specifically the dental pulp. Dental pulp is the soft tissue at the center of each tooth that provides sustenance to a live tooth. When the dental pulp becomes infected or is at risk of infection, root canal therapy or other endodontic services may be used to restore the health of the tooth.
If you have one or more severely decayed teeth, Advanced Endodontics can provide the necessary treatment to give you the best chance of saving the affected teeth. We offer a range of sedation options to help you feel relaxed and comfortable.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment at one of our 6 convenient locations.
Oral health is the term that refers to the general health of your mouth, including your teeth, gums, tongue, soft tissues, and jaw. While dental health refers specifically to your teeth, oral health includes the rest of your mouth and the support structures for your teeth.
Do you want to have excellent oral health? Numerous studies have shown that oral health is an indicator of overall health and wellness. Having good oral health reduces your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
In order to achieve and maintain optimal oral health, there are some essential tools that can help make that possible. Here’s what you need.
Basic Must-Have Oral Health Products
These are the basic tools and products that everyone should have and use on a daily basis to maintain their oral health:
- Toothbrush. You need at least one toothbrush with soft or medium bristles. Be sure to choose a quality toothbrush that is labeled ADA for the American Dental Association. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night to remove plaque and prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
- Toothpaste. In order for brushing your teeth to be effective, you need to use toothpaste. Choose a fluoride toothpaste that is designed to prevent cavities. If you have specific oral health concerns, ask your dentist to recommend a type of toothpaste for you.
- Floss. It is also important to floss between all of your teeth. This removes food particles and plaque from the spaces between your teeth and along your gums to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Deluxe or Luxury Items to Optimize Oral Health
The following products are not necessary for everyone to achieve and maintain optimal dental health, but they can make oral care easier and help with specific oral health concerns:
- Mouthwash. Mouthwash is not necessary for oral health, but it can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and reach every part of your mouth, even the smallest spaces. It can also freshen your breath.
- Dental picks/floss sticks. If you have trouble using string floss, dental picks and flossing sticks allow you to clean between your teeth to remove food particles and plaque.
- Superfloss. Superfloss is extra wide and spongy to more effectively clean larger spaces between teeth. It also has a reinforced end that makes it easier to thread under dental prosthetics and orthodontic appliances.
- Oral irrigator. Also known as a waterpik or water flosser, an oral irrigator is a tool that sprays water in a pressurized, concentrated stream that is effective at cleaning between your teeth and under dental prosthetics.
- Tongue scraper. A tongue scraper is primarily used to freshen your breath by removing bacteria from the tongue. It can also improve your oral health by reducing bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.
- Different shaped toothbrushes. It may help to have toothbrushes with different shaped heads and bristles. These can help keep dental prosthetics clean, as well as orthodontic appliances.
The Importance of Professional Dental Care
In addition to oral care at home, it is necessary to see your dentist every 6 months for professional cleanings and oral examinations. No matter how well you clean your teeth, there may still be some plaque left behind on your teeth that only your dentist can see and remove. Dental diagnostics, such as X-Rays, are also important for the detection and diagnosis of oral health concerns.
When Should I See an Endodontist?
You may need to see an endodontist if you have a tooth that needs special treatment. An infected tooth or a tooth that is at risk of infection may need a root canal. Other endodontic procedures may be used to save a tooth that is not developing properly or that is deteriorating for some reason.
Advanced Endodontics provides specialized dental care that can often save one or more of your teeth. We can also recommend oral care products that can help you maintain your oral health and avoid future endodontic treatment.