Research has established that there is a direct connection between mental health and dental care. This might come as a surprise to you, but poor dental care has also been linked to mental illness, dementia, diabetes, among other chronic diseases.
Based on a study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination department, it was evident that 67% of patients who were diagnosed with depression issues also experienced toothaches. There is a strong relationship between poor dental care and mental problems. As such, everyone should take proper care of their dental hygiene to protect their mental health.
Problems experienced by people suffering from mental illness
- Poor brushing. People with a bipolar syndrome or similar disorders tend to brush their teeth vigorously, and it often eats away the enamel. Due to pain, they brush their teeth poorly.
- Eating disorder. Patients suffering from conditions such as Bulimia, tend to experience dental erosion, that’s a result of the vomit acidity. They also have lower calcium levels, which affects how they eat.
- Anxiety. Most people experience dental phobia, and as a result, they fear visiting the dentist. Without dental visits, one develops severe oral problems and anxiety issues. Most people with oral are anxious when they speak in front of people.
Dental care and mental health: The vicious cycle
The connection between mental health and dental care can be viewed as a vicious cycle that involves mouth inflammation and constant pain that leads to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety issues.
Dentist will recommend that everyone brush their teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and reduce sugar intake. Besides, dentists recommend frequent visitations, or you can get a consultation on their website, whereby you can get assistance on implant dentistry, which will bring new hope if you are suffering from chronic dental issues.
A dentist’s routine operation will help restore your social life since people with oral problems are known to be embarrassed, and they lack confidence when they are around others.
Signs of dental and mental illness
If you have a mental illness, then the chances are high that dental problems could result in the loss of all your teeth. Mental illnesses harm oral health. People suffering from affective disorders or depression tend to experience tooth attrition, that’s a result of excessive teeth grinding, vigorous brushing of teeth, and they often feel neglected.
A dentist can spot signs of eating disorders at the early stage since they will notice the damage done on the enamel resulting from purging. In such conditions, dentists often recommend fluoride treatments, G4 implantation, or frequent cleaning that will remineralise the enamel.
Causes of poor dental hygiene among mentally unstable patients
Most mentally taxed patients tend to suffer from anxiety and stress-related issues resulting from poor dental hygiene. It’s often difficult to deal with dental health when one suffers from mental illness. Therefore, dentists often advise caregivers to take the mentally ill outside for self-reflection, which will give them the energy to perform regular chores such as dental care. Besides, depressed people are known to visit the dentist less often, and they frequently have unhealthy diets. People suffering from anxiety issues often exhibit teeth grinding and canker sores. The symptoms could be detrimental to their health, considering that they have short and long term effects.
Stress has psychological effects on oral health. The stress hormone, cortisone, spikes, and as a result, it weakens a person’s immune system, making it easier for bacteria to cause inflammation in the gums. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants might dry the mouth and saliva might fail to clear food that remains on teeth after eating.
Ways to take care of your oral health
It’s difficult for people suffering from anxiety issues and depression to take care of their teeth, but everyone needs to observe oral hygiene. Dentists often advise their patients to brush at least twice a day, and you should consider using dental floss after each meal. Besides, it’s advisable to use a mouthwash that kills harmful bacteria in the mouth, and it helps rinse off clogged debris. If you have a problem remembering dental appointments or brushing your teeth, you should set the alarm or a reminder.
Proper oral hygiene and frequent dental checks are essential for your mental health. Poor mental health affects oral hygiene, leading to tooth decay or gum disease. By observing a healthier lifestyle and making it a routine to visit your dentist frequently, you can manage your oral health. Besides, it’s your responsibility to take care of those who have a mental illness; thus, take them out frequently and teach them the basics of oral hygiene.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.