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Mental Wellness and Oral Health, is There a Link?

November 8, 2023
Mental Wellness

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.

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