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The Psychology Behind Oral Health

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Oral health refers to the general condition of the mouth, and good oral health is the absence of teeth pains, sores on the throat, or any disease that affect the mouth. Psychology has proven that the way a person feels or one’s state of mind, or emotional well-being affects a person’s health. Although it has not been proven scientifically, several tests have been carried out, and the assumption has proven factual. 

Psychology about oral health refers to how a person’s emotional level can affect his health in the oral sector. Oral health affects a person’s daily life because it is an essential factor in one’s day-to-day activities. The level of a person’s morale, whether low or high, affects their oral health, which makes the emotional level a key factor that determines the level of oral healthiness. North Bramalea Dental in Brampton is an example of a dental institute that tried to balance psychology and its effect on oral health. Some of the emotions that impede one’s oral health are:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

These are a few of the emotions discovered in the test carried out on several patients that causes their declined oral health.

Examples of disease resulting from poor oral health

  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth pain
  • Throat cancer
  • Oral infection and sores
  • Tooth loss
  • Periodontal (gum) disease

Facts that prove emotion affects oral health

  • Health consciousness. A person in a positive emotional state will tell when they are feeling unwell or something is going wrong in their oral health, but someone who is emotionally depressed or feeling some negative emotion will be found neglecting their health.
  • Inability to seek for solution. A person who is emotionally challenged will find it hard to seek treatment for an oral disease due to the cloud of psychological negativity surrounding that person.
  • Recovery. A person with positive emotions quickly overcomes health issues than someone with negative emotions because of optimism. This is one of the reasons why doctors normally advise patients to be optimistic concerning their treatment and expect the best outcome.

These facts are quite common, which made psychologists carry out several tests and studies to show the relation between emotions (stress, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion) and the quality of oral health. The facts that the psychologists aimed to prove include: 

  • Psychology is related not only to anxiety and depression but also another emotional state.
  • In different stages of life, there are different degrees of oral health and different emotions.
  • Different oral health degrees result in different emotional expressions.

Methods for the test

The POMS. This is a self-assessment mood scale consisting of 58 items. It consists of six subscales, which are: 

  • Tension-anxiety
  • Depression-dejection
  • Aggression-anger
  • Vigor-activity
  • fatigue condolence
  • Confusion- bewilderment 

OHIP (Oral Health Impact Profile). This consisted of 14 items, with each pair of items capturing a specific dimension of the perception of the state of oral health

  • Functional limitations: this is a case of finding it uneasy to chew.
  • Sensitivity of teeth
  • Psychological discomfort
  • Social disability

This research was in line with research principles, and it was conducted according to the declaration of Helsinki. Each candidate was informed before the test about the methods and aims of the study and also asked to consent by signing an agreement to be used as test subjects.

Their data was taken in the year 2013 from January to May. The items were administered by operators who were briefly trained on how to administer the psychological tests with the completion of the test requiring 15–30 minutes, and the data were analysed using a statistical package. The whole sample was from the determined number of dental patients belonging to different private dental surgeries with mild or moderate dental problems (gingivitis, cavities, plaque, sensitive teeth, halitosis, denture discomfort, etc.). The result of the whole experiments proved that:

  • Poor oral health is not only related to anxiety and depression but also other emotional states.
  • In different stages of life, there are different oral health degrees and different emotions.
  • Different oral health degrees results in different expressions of emotions


Oral health is a factor that affects a person’s daily, life, and it is qualified by one’s emotional state of mind. This states that how a person feels, whether it be positive emotion or negative emotion, will determine the quality of their oral health, which is one of the reasons that people who feel emotionally down or depressed may develop dental problems due to them neglecting their oral health. A person with poor oral health is always afraid of socialising, so it is essential for one to always ensure that their oral health is never neglected to live a good, quality life and be dental problem-free.

Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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