Oral Health Affects Mental Health

Oral Health Affects Mental Health

Our brains are like a central computer system that controls all aspects of our bodies – from cells to respiration, our brain commands every tiny molecule. That also means that specific areas within our body affect our brain health, or more importantly, our mental health.

You might have heard about the mind to gut connection before – often called the second brain. That’s thanks to the enteric nervous system containing millions of nerve cells that are in constant communication with your brain. What you digest and your digestive health directly impact your mental health. But what about your oral health? Let’s explore.

Body Image Issues

Poor oral health can exacerbate mental health issues like depression, according to a study by Steve Kisley. Plus, countless surveys have concluded that the first thing people notice about you is your smile, so it’s no surprise that poor oral health can trigger body insecurity-related mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

Many believe – like Port Credit Dentistry on Lakeshore – that oral health is a gateway to your body. Good oral health will improve your overall quality of life. Taking a trip to the dentist might help you find solutions to fix oral health-related body image issues, like crooked teeth, broken teeth, and cavities that are affecting your breath.

Mental Health Conditions

Sometimes, it’s not poor oral health that causes mental health conditions – it’s mental health conditions that cause poor oral health. Depression, for example, is a trigger for self-neglect and is associated with higher intakes of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, which are all related to poor oral health.

Another trigger is a bipolar disorder which is often related to excessive brushing that damages gums and causes dental abrasions. Patients with bipolar disorder that’s treated with lithium have a statistically higher rate of xerostomia and stomatitis. Similarly, some of the side effects listed for antipsychotics and antidepressants include more susceptibility to bacterial infections.

The Statistics

Some interesting statistics highlight the relationship between mental health and poor oral health. One study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems concluded that people with a mental illness are 2.8 times more likely to lose all their teeth. A similar study found that those suffering from mental health problems have higher statistical rates for tooth decay and missing teeth.

Those studies referred to the further impact the issues will have on an individual’s mental health. Someone suffering from depression, for example, may feel they’re unable to maintain their oral health – but as a consequence, suffer from an exacerbation of their depression because they’re feeling insecure. There’s a somewhat vicious cycle created that can be hard to break. However, dentists are professionally trained to tailor treatments to someone suffering from mental health.

From making consultations and treatments as relaxing as possible to creating tailor-made treatment plans that combat the effect of specific mental health medications, dentists support anyone in need of a more specific oral health treatment plan.

There are numerous other parts of our bodies directly impacting our mental health. From hormonal changes to a poor diet – our mental health can suffer from small internal changes. Thankfully, advances in oral health treatments serve to protect our mouths better than ever before.

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