Many people don’t consider the health of their teeth and how it impacts how they feel, but there actually exists a very close relationship between mental health and oral health. Each is linked to the other in a remarkable number of ways, creating a circle that can lead to worsening mental health and declining oral health without intervention.
While the full relationship between mental health and oral health is only just being explored, there have already been a number of direct links established between the health of the mind and how it can affect the body.
Good mental health is important for good oral health, and the same is also very true in reverse.
The Impact of Poor Mental Health on Oral Health
When you take a closer look at some mental illnesses, it’s very easy to see how they may affect the health of a person’s mouth, teeth and gums. While not all mental illnesses can lead to poor oral health, many habits and behaviors associated with certain mental illnesses are not conducive to good oral health.
Here’s how some mental illnesses are linked to poor oral health:
- Eating Disorders – Disorders like anorexia, bulimia and purging can cause significant damage to oral health. Restricting food can lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients, which can cause problems like gum disease, tooth decay, sores, bad breath, bleeding and dryness. Regular vomiting can also result in tooth decay, while purging can cause the mouth to become very sore.
- Substance Use Disorder – Smoking and the regular consumption of alcohol and caffeine can damage the teeth, leading to problems that include tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores. Some caffeinated drinks can cause bad breath and enamel erosion, and smoking can result in tooth staining.
- Dental Anxiety/Phobia – A fear of the dentist can prevent individuals from getting the dental treatment they need. Not visiting a dentist in Palos Park IL regularly, can leave problems unchecked, potentially resulting in the development of more serious dental conditions.
- Depression – Depression can cause individuals to lose interest in maintaining good oral health. They may become neglectful in dental care, resulting in the development of problems like gum disease. Depression may also result in a higher than average consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
- Schizophrenia – Like depression, schizophrenia can cause individuals to be become neglectful in maintaining their oral health. It’s very common for patients with schizophrenia to have serious dental conditions, like cavities, dry mouth, and gum disease.
- Dementia – Dementia can cause patients to forget whether they’ve brushed or flossed their teeth, increasing their risk of tooth decay and other problems.
- Bipolar Disorder – Patients with bipolar disorder may be too forceful with their dental care routine, affecting tooth enamel and gum health and causing lacerations. Depressive mood swings could also result in neglectful dental care.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Similar to bipolar disorder, individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder may brush with too much force or too frequently, resulting in damage to their teeth and gums.
- Medication – While not strictly a mental illness, some medications that are prescribed to treat mental health illnesses can affect oral health. Dry mouth is a common problem associated with some medications, while some mood stabilizers can increase the risk of a patient developing infections.
The Impact of Poor Oral Health on Mental Health
In a similar way to how poor mental health can result in actions that affect oral health, poor oral health can cause negative feelings that affect mental health.
Not brushing and flossing regularly, not visiting the dentist for routine checkups and not looking after your oral health overall can cause a number of problems, including but not limited to:
- Bad Breath
- Tooth Discoloration
- Difficulty Speaking
- Tooth Loss
- Headaches (caused by crooked teeth)
These common oral problems can affect how a person thinks about themselves and how others react in their presence. Bad breath, for example, can cause a person to be unwilling to speak or eat in public places, be fearful of laughing or opening their mouth, and avoid conversations – harming their social and work life. Discolored, misaligned, or missing teeth can have a similar impact.
Living with these problems can damage self-esteem, affect confidence, reduce happiness, and make it very difficult to feel good in oneself. In the long-term, unhappiness with tooth appearance or speaking capabilities could lead to an individual missing out on career opportunities or withdrawing from their friends and family, potentially causing mental health to worsen.
Improving Mental Health with Good Oral Health
Good oral health can have the opposite impact on mental health. When you feel good about your appearance, are comfortable smiling and laughing in public, and aren’t afraid to be social, it can lead to greater levels of confidence, a boost in self-esteem, and a much happier mindset. Smiling can also make your face look more youthful, further improving confidence in the way you look and feel.
Just as poor oral health is linked to poor mental health, it’s also linked to poor health overall. With a healthy smile, there’s less chance of diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart attacks. Good oral health is essential for a healthy mind and a healthy body!
Stress-Free Oral Health Treatment in Palos Park IL
The first step towards improving your oral health and feeling better about your smile is taking advantage of the incredible Palos Park IL dental care facilities.
At Sheehan Dental, we understand that visiting the dentist can be a stressful experience, especially if it’s been a while since you last had a checkup. To make sure that the experience is as stress-free as it can be, we provide our patients with a relaxing environment where they can truly feel at ease.
With our extensive range of dental treatments – that include everything from dental implants and veneers to tooth whitening – we can help you to stay on top of your oral health and feel confident in your smile once more.
For advice and guidance on improving your smile and oral health, get in touch with Sheehan Dental in Palos Park, IL today.