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How Mental Health Can Impact Oral Health

Sad man brushing teeth

For those with poor physical health, mental health plays a significant role in the cause and effects related to various conditions and contributes to unhealthy behaviors that block people from receiving the medical help they need. However, the connections between mental health and oral health have been less focused on, even though it is an essential part of physical health. According to researchers, there is a two-way association between mental health and oral health, and to combat this issue, many dentists across the country have been working to understand how these two topics intertwine. As our goals are to help patients receive better oral health, we’re going to look at how mental disorders can impact oral health and what we can do to help.

Mental Illness And Their Connection With Oral Diseases

Mental illness can affect the way we process emotion and information, heavily influencing our actions. Social stigmas in mental health often confine people with these disorders, and this isolation can often lead to difficulties with their physical health. This also includes oral health, as the effects of mental health have a large impact and can lead to lasting consequences on a person’s quality of life. Mental health can influence how people care for their teeth and gums, and some disorders can result in a variety of oral problems, such as:

  • Eating Disorders: Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can not only affect one’s body weight and ability to gain nutrients but also lead to enamel erosion. In these cases, repeated exposure to stomach acids can increase the amount of acidity in the mouth, leading bacteria to eat away at the enamel and causing cavities and gum disease.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety disorders can create severe cases of social isolation and cause problems with handling everyday tasks. Dental anxiety, a type of anxiety associated with fear of the dentist, can result in oral health problems, as this condition will most likely lead to avoiding dental visits and increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
  • Depression: Depression is intricately connected to physical health, as the feeling of isolation and unmotivated largely impacts how people think and act. Because of the severity of this mental condition, people with depression often face problems handling their oral health.
  • OCD: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, due to its repetitive behavior and compulsions, is a type of anxiety that can interfere with one’s ability to care for themselves in severe cases. In these cases, brushing and flossing can be turned into repetitive, compulsive habits, causing enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.

Seek Out Help With Your Dentist

As a two-way connection, problems with oral health can also contribute to mental health symptoms, leading to an increased sense of embarrassment, isolation, and low self-esteem when it comes to issues maintaining oral health. Oral problems can also cause issues with speaking and eating, ultimately worsening mental health symptoms and leading to a repetitive cycle of illness. Through working with your dentist, they can help you find ways of managing your oral health through tips, advice, and treatment plans that work for you.

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Dr. Beau Blankenship, DDS Under the guidance of Dr. Beau Blankenship, Sabal General Dentistry brings dental care to families in and around the Rockdale, TX area with over a decade of experience. As a dental surgery graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center, he focuses on building patient relationships that last a lifetime.

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