Is there a link between dental health and mental health?

Is there a link between dental health and mental health?


A visit to the dentist twice a year is important to make sure your teeth are in top condition. But you may not realize that dental checkups can also be an opportunity to tune your mental health.

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“People are often surprised that their dental health is linked to their oral health and their oral health is linked to their mental health,” says psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD. “But they’re really connected.”

Can dental health affect mental health?

Yes, your dental health can affect your mental health. “When your oral health suffers, it can reduce your quality of life or make your mental health problems worse,” explains Dr. Albers. “If you feel embarrassed about the health of your teeth, you may notice that it triggers a certain social anxiety. You can resign. Or it can damage your confidence. This can increase some of your mental health symptoms. ”

Dr. Albers says the opposite is true – your mental health can affect your dental health, such as the health of your teeth and gums. When you are stressed, you can ignore your dental hygiene. Dr. Albers actually adds to your health teeth he can reveal many things about you overall health. “It provides guidance on your levels of stress, anxiety, mood, and the presence of chronic eating problems.”

In a meta-analysis of 25 studies from 2015 that lasted 25 years, the researchers found that people living with severe mental health problems were 2.8 times more likely to lose their teeth than people in the general population. This gap is caused by an untreated medical condition or difficult access to dental care, adds Dr. Albers.

All of this can affect your physical health. For example, some people are concerned with what Dr. Albers calls it “self-reassuring behavior” – such as drinking, smoking or consuming large amounts of highly processed foods, all of which have documented negative health effects.

What dental health tells us about mental health

If you feel depressed or anxious, it can often be impossible to take care of yourself and do small daily tasks. This includes taking care of your dental health. “You may not have the motivation or energy to do dental hygiene,” says Dr. Albers. “You may also have an increased perception of pain and avoid dentists.”

Accordingly, your mouth and teeth offer many clues to potential mental health problems. “If you have anxiety, you may notice that you gnash your teeth at night or feel jaw pain,” says Dr. Albers. “Worn enamel can also be a very big warning sign that you are experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress.”

People living with obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder may also wear enamel. “You can brush your teeth several times a day,” notes Dr. Albers. “It becomes more of a ritual than a cleaning procedure.”

Worn enamel can also be a side effect of an eating disorder. “People who suffer from eating disorders often have a high rate of tooth decay or gum problems,” says Dr. Albers. This is caused by malnutrition or the consumption of large amounts of sweet or highly processed foods.

How can I manage my mental and dental health?

Because mental health and dental health are interconnected, the things you do to manage one benefit the other. Fortunately, you can make small changes in your daily life that can have a lasting impact.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a nutritious meal – in other words, a diet high in fruits, vegetables and other items loaded with vitamins – is always a good idea. “What you eat significantly affects your mood and oral health,” says Dr. Albers. “Make sure you also eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. This will improve your mood and protect your teeth and gums. ”

Watch for any signs and symptoms you may have

There are many signs and symptoms that something is wrong with your dental hygiene. Your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth or use dental floss. Other times your jaw may hurt. Or you may be sensitive to hot or low temperatures.

Dry mouth can also be a side effect of some antidepressants, anxiety medications and mood stabilizers. “This is a condition that reduces the production of saliva in the mouth,” says Dr. Albers. “Saliva is really important for the health of your oral cavity.” Not only does it help you digest food, but saliva also helps kill harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth and gum problems.

If you suspect you have a dry mouth and are taking medication, Dr. Albers suggests that it is a good idea to consult your dentist, doctor and therapist to make sure your teeth do not hurt.

Practice stress reducing activities

If you notice that you have worn enamel, it can mean a high level of anxiety and stress. In this case, you may want to practice some activities to reduce stress and anxiety.

This may include downloading an app to help you sleep better and stay calm at night, or practicing deep breathing and meditation. In fact, you can practice deep breathing and meditation during the day to relieve stress and concentrate.

Visit your dentist

Dentists are not just here to polish your mother-of-pearl whites. They can also find out when other things are happening in your life. “Dentists are sometimes the first experts to identify and diagnose a mental health problem,” says Dr. Albers. “They refer a lot to counselors and therapists.”

In fact, he says that after a dentist’s recommendation, he often sees people who live with eating disorders. A dentist who notices a gnashing of teeth may also prescribe a mouthguard to someone and ask about potential anxiety.

How to deal with anxiety teeth

Of course, getting to the dentist can sometimes be challenging due to nerves, fear or anxiety. While Dr. Albers assures that it is normal to feel a little anxious before visiting a dentist, some people avoid dentists at all costs. “They have what is known as dental phobia,” he says. “If that sounds like you, it’s really important to contact a therapist who can help you and find a treatment so you can take care of your mental and dental health.”

If you want to alleviate anxiety before visiting a dentist, you can make a list of questions or concerns in advance so that you can share them in your appointment. This can include any physical problems you have with your teeth, mouth or gums. Or if not something feel quite right, maybe it would be worth mentioning.

“It’s common for you to have a lot of expectations, anxiety and fear in front of your dentist,” Dr. Albers. “Doing positive self-talk and mantras to help us relax and calm down can make things easier.”

Above all, don’t be ashamed if you have problems with your teeth, gums or mouth. “If you have oral hygiene problems, check it out with you,” says Dr. Albers. “Ask if there is a mental health problem that may stand in the way.”

If you suspect this may be the case, talk to your therapist or see a therapist to talk to your doctor. “Dentists are very willing to help,” says Dr. Albers. “They’ve seen signs and symptoms of the disease before.” And working with a dentist and therapist can help you solve your mental health problems and protect your oral health and overall health. ”



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