Is There A Link Between Oral And Mental Health?

May 11, 2022

Is There A Link Between Oral And Mental Health?
Is There A Link Between Oral And Mental Health?

Oral health is typically overlooked as a factor in overall physical health but often neglects its impact on a person's mental health and well-being. It is important to note that both aspects are interconnected and significantly impact one another.


Little attention has been paid to the relationship between the two, as there has been various research on the relationship between an individual's mental health and general physical health.


Impact Of Oral Health On Mental Health

Oral and mental health are inextricably linked. Similar to how your mental health may influence your ability or willingness to undergo oral care, a lack of adequate dental hygiene can negatively affect your mental health.


Individuals already facing mental illnesses frequently deal with low self and energy necessary to develop healthy dental hygiene routines. Given their already sensitive and volatile emotions, the unfavorable appearance caused by yellowing, decaying, or missing teeth might negatively affect a depressive individual.


In addition, some people are embarrassed by the sight of their teeth and lose confidence in social settings when they are experiencing difficulty maintaining good oral health or getting regular maintenance.


Thus, poor dental hygiene can produce speech and foul breath changes, which can contribute to social anxiety and low self-esteem. Due to the disproportionate impact of oral health issues on people with mental illness caused by various factors such as lack of access to care, fear regarding treatment, or poor dental hygiene practices, they are more likely to have these extra self-image concerns as a result.


Moreover, approximately half of all dental patients have some anxiety regarding their dental visits, which can progress to a dental phobia, a type of specialized phobia. Anxiety or depression can also aggravate the perception of dental pain, independent of the severity of oral pathology.


Dental Anxiety Across The Globe


Dental health-related anxiety is prevalent in many countries. In fact, according to a study, 50-80% of adults suffer from mild to severe dental anxiety in the United States alone. Two further studies from France and India indicate that 46% of patients experienced some level of dental anxiety.


Likewise, the prevalence of dental anxiety and fear in Asian countries, like Malaysia, is relatively high, similar to those found in Australian, US, Danish, French, Japanese, Swedish, Singaporean, and Finnish research, which ranges from 10-to 50%.


Specifically, according to a recent Australian survey, around 5% of the population in Australia suffers from dental phobia, and about 85 percent of the adult population is still apprehensive about painful dental operations. Thus, if you are among the Australian population suffering from dental anxiety, seek a dental clinic that offers sedation dentistry, like Ellenbrook Dentist located along the streets of Ellen Stirling Parade in Australia.


Impact Of Mental Health On Oral Health

Individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression may indulge in behaviors or experience specific issues related to dental health as a result of their condition, such as:

● Consuming or drinking an excessive amount of sweetened foods or beverages

● Appetite loss, which can result in malnutrition

● Difficulty with regular activities such as brushing their teeth

● Dental phobia – fear of the dentist

● Alcoholism or drug abuse

● Low energy consumption

● Pain


If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other serious mental condition, you may feel unable to eat. Additionally, you may consume an excessive amount of sweet snacks or beverages, which may ease the pain temporarily but might result in dental decay and cavities.


Individuals with inadequate diet or eating problems may have low calcium levels. Calcium deficiency can erode the surface tooth enamel, which may cause certain eating disorders, like bulimia. This happens when an individual vomits following a meal, which can cause damage to the teeth, mouth, and throat. Bulimia can also cause a decrease in saliva production in the mouth, resulting in dry mouth and oral complications.


Moreover, according to research, a significant number of persons with mental problems frequently skip dental care, which explains why oral hygiene is frequently neglected. These bad practices can result in tooth decay and gum disease, but the worst problem is that dental anxiety can also prevent patients from seeking competent medical assistance.


Also, certain drugs used to treat mental conditions have been shown to have harmful effects on dental health. Circumstances such as a decrease in saliva production might result in persistent dry mouth.


Preventive Oral Health Care

Having poor oral health may negatively impact your mental health. You may feel self-conscious regarding your teeth, or you may have difficulty eating or drinking in public. This can prompt you to avoid social situations, which can have a negative effect on your well-being.


Moreover, you can also take action within the four corners of your home, such as:


● Brushing your teeth twice a day
● Using dental floss every day
● Consuming a nutritious, balanced diet
● Eliminating alcohol consumption
● Reducing intake of sugary foods and beverages.


Managing Mental Health

You can take proactive actions on your own, such as engaging in physical activity, interacting with or creating connections with others, or training your mind to be present at the moment. This can help you keep a feeling of tranquility and concentration and a sense of well-being.


If none of the mentioned works for you, it is better to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing difficulties or the severity of what you're experiencing with your mental health is beyond your control. Your doctor may recommend medication or assist you in finding a therapist to help you with your condition.


Final Thoughts

There is an undeniable link between oral and mental health. It creates an undesirable negative cycle in which people who struggle with mental health difficulties are more likely to have poor oral health and vice versa. Thus, it is critical to visit your dentist regularly, and if you have problems regarding your mental health, you must not hesitate to seek medical help.


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