Mental health awareness has become more prominent today, and because of this often neglected aspect of our health, making it more visible matters. Having any form of mental illness can impact every part of our lives, but did you also know that this could impact your teeth? How often we brush and floss has a direct impact on our mouths, but pre-existing conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD can make maintaining our oral health much harder. Many studies have looked at the connection between mental illness and dental problems and found that the frequency of these occurrences isn’t just a coincidence. We’re here to help shed some light on this issue and help inform you on the ways to care for your teeth with mental illness.
Mental Conditions And Its Connection To Oral Health
Because of the increasing amount of awareness mental health is receiving, the stigmas surrounding these illnesses are starting to dissipate. In many ways, mental conditions have become a highly valuable place of study where researchers look into the genetic and environmental influences that create these illnesses and how they impact our bodies. For instance, cortisol, the stress hormone, is often produced in higher quantities in conditions such as anxiety, and these higher levels can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease. In a way, having mental illness can impact our ability to maintain proper health and increase the risk of issues such as cavities and gum disease.
So, what’s the current association being made between mental illness and oral health? One study cites that many of these mental health conditions often impair executive functions vital towards caring for our physical health—experiencing mental illnesses that lead to a lack of care, including exercise, eating, and in our example, brushing one’s teeth. The study also cites that those with mental health conditions often experience a greater risk of poor nutrition, impacting our teeth and gums. Heavy consumption of sugary drinks, misuse of substances such as nicotine, and financial problems can be a barrier to healthier lifestyles and self-neglect. In many cases, self-neglect can cause cavities, gum disease, and gingival lacerations to develop over time, depending on the health condition present.
Speaking With Your Dentist About Mental Health
Any form of mental illness can be helped through time and effort, knowing that your experiences with mental illness are valid matters, especially when speaking with your dentist. When talking to your dentist about your mental health, your dentist can take more active steps towards giving you better, comprehensive care through:
- Assessing Medication Side Effects
- Understanding Medical History
- Provide Helpful Dental Tips
- Offer Relaxation Techniques
- Provide an Unbiased Approach
Remove the stigma by speaking with your dentist about your mental health. If you are suffering from gum disease, cavities, or any other oral condition, your dentist will be able to help you improve your dental health and live a better life.