There is no doubt that there is a link between your mouth and your mind. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a significant number of patients who suffered from depression complained about a toothache at some point or rated their oral hygiene as poor or fair, at best.
Periodontal disease and your mood
Reviews of oral related studies found a solid link between gum or periodontal disease and mental conditions such as anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression. The reason the researchers found was the behavioural effects of these, such as lack of interest in oral care which then lead to dental issues.
The logic was that a condition such as depression, would take away the interest for a person to visit their dentist, brush regularly, eat healthy foods, and instead they would turn to unhealthy food, smoking, drinking alcohol and self-medicating, which in turn would affect their teeth and gums.
However, this stress that is created in the body, impacts oral health and manifests as a hormone known as cortisol, which is our natural built-in alarm system. This main stress hormone works together with our brains and controls our moods, fears and motivations.
Other issues such as anxiety, affect the mouth as well. One can start to get oral sores, dry mouth and bruxism or grinding of the teeth due to the stress they put on their mind and bodies – the latter is something this family dentist in Cambridge suggests, on their blog, is a habit to avoid. Also, anxiety medication can play a role in hindering the health of your mouth due to various side effects caused by it.
Look after your mouth
Always take care of your teeth, mind and body altogether. Even on days when you don’t feel like it, doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Brush your teeth in the morning and evening before bed and if you can after every meal, but don’t do it too harshly as you may damage the enamel.
Also, one thing not to neglect is your tongue. Plaque can build up on your tongue causing you to have bad breath as well as oral health problems. Using Fluoride toothpaste is also a key component here. Forget all those fancy gels and pastes with flavours and whiteners, instead opt for a clean fluoride toothpaste, which will help guard against tooth decay.
Flossing is also an important element here. If you’re not sure how to floss, some various online sources and videos can show you how, or visit your dentist and ask him or her to show you how it’s done. Along with flossing, you should also use mouthwash for that final rinse to remove any last traces of food and plaque, and also give you a fresh breath feeling.
Other healthy habits that will keep your mouth from being an issue are drinking plenty of water daily, eating crunchy vegetables and fruits, and avoiding or minimising sugary and acidic foods as much as possible. Of course, the best advice anyone can give you is to visit your dentist regularly.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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