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The Connection Between Mental and Oral Health

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Have you ever been so sad that the only thing you want to eat or makes you happy is junk food? Or you forget to eat because of a loss of appetite? Or that period you were dealing with anxiety that you ate everything that came your way to stop nausea in your stomach? 

People with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders often go through things that cause them to observe poor nutrition and eat unhealthily.

When dealing with depression, it is common for individuals to prefer sweets, chocolates, or sugary drinks to healthy food. They might also indulge in using stimulants, tobacco, marijuana to give them a respite from their problems. 

Individuals with eating disorders, anorexia, and the likes often overeat, not bothering to check if it is helpful to their body or eat very little that their body does not have enough nutrients. However, apart from the effects these have on the general well-being, it also affects the individual’s oral health. 

In many ways, a decline in mental health can also affect a person’s oral health, but many people are unaware of this. Many dental clinics like The Smiles Dental in Port Washington have taken it upon themselves to make patients aware of the connection between their mental health and how it affects their oral health while providing the best care they can get. This article will tell you more about the connection between your mental and oral health.  

Oral health problems caused by excess sugar consumption 

Eating sugar in processed and cooked substances might seem harmless, but the implications it has on the overall health of the human body cannot be denied. Sugar is needed by the body in the form of carbohydrates that breaks down into glucose and helps the central nervous system, red blood cells, and brain to function correctly. Carbohydrates also provide energy to the body faster than protein and fatty essentials. 

But when the sugar in the body becomes too much, it can cause serious health problems, like;

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart diseases like coronary heart problems
  • Cancer: High level of insulin in the body caused by too much sugar consumption can cause a spike in the reproduction of cancer cells.

Apart from the effects excessive sugar intake can have on our body, and we must know that it first begins to take effect in our mouth, teeth, and gums. This affects our oral health, and a few of these health problems include;

  • Tooth decay. The saliva and bacteria present in the mouth latch on to the molecules of sugar brought in by food substances in which sugar is present. The action of the mixture between the molecules, bacteria, and saliva causes plaque on the surface of the tooth, which then dissolves the tooth enamel, leading to cavities and tooth decay.
  • Tooth loss. When tooth decay is not treated early, the plaque continues to wear down on the tooth and gum, which can dissolve the entire tooth or make it so weak it falls off on its own.
  • Gum diseases. When gum diseases caused by sugar in the mouth go untreated, it leads to periodontitis. If untreated, periodontitis bacteria can travel throughout the body, causing more damages like advanced gum diseases, kidney problems, as well as liver and lung issues.

Effects of psychostimulants on our oral health

Psychostimulants are drugs that cause an increased rate of activities in our central nervous system. Consumption gives the user a feeling of pleasure, euphoria, or causes a hallucination. Although some of these drugs are prescribed to treat mental illnesses like ADHD, they are now misused, overdosed by several people today. Examples include; Adderall, Ritalin, nicotine found in tobacco smoke. The effects these substances, taken in excess, have on the overall oral health of a human being includes:

  • High risk of dental caries.
  • Dry mouth resulting in the consumption of sweet and acidic drinks or beverages which increases the action of plaques.
  • Decreased interest in observing proper oral hygiene.


So, when you think about consuming sugar drinks, sweets, chocolates, and overdosing on psychostimulants, remember the effects that it can have on your body and, most significantly, your oral health. You do not want to walk into a crowd and not be able to speak or smile comfortably. Instead of looking for respite in these substances, try the following ways instead;

  • Talk to a friend.
  • Avoid triggers. 
  • See a therapist.
  • Drink a glass of water 
  • Sleep more.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Eat a balanced diet. 
  • Stand up and leave places where people are engaged in stimulants like tobacco, marijuana, etc. 

Observing the above precautions will not only boost your mental health but help you keep good oral health practices and promote your overall oral health.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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