The Connection Between Mental Health and Dental Health
During these unique and stressful times, the spotlight has been shining bright on mental health. However, not many people are discussing the connection between mental health and dental health. Did you know that if your mental health is not at its best, science says that your dental health is also likely feeling the effects? Understanding the connection will teach us what to do if it’s happening to us. Let’s delve in a little deeper.
The behavioral effects of a poor mental state lead to a lack of focus on oral hygiene, leading to significant dental issues. For example, depressed patients have been found to skip brushing and flossing, pick up unhealthy eating habits, skip dental visits, and even self-medicate with smoking and/or drinking.
Going a little further past the behavioral component, the biological effects of poor mental health are glaring as well. Depression and anxiety create an elevation of a hormone in our body called cortisol which weakens our immune system. In effect, the risk for gingivitis and periodontal disease skyrockets.
Furthermore, common dental health issues such as canker sores and bruxism (grinding of teeth) are found more in stressed or anxious patients.
Thankfully, the effects of all of these conditions can be prevented and/or intercepted by your dentist. Knowing the potential effects of a suffering mental state will give you the chance to recognize when or if it is happening to you and will hopefully serve as a reminder to get back on track with your oral hygiene practices, and to visit your dentist. Don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns about mental health and it’s effect on your oral health at your upcoming dental visit!