However, what you may not know is how closely related your oral health is to your mental well-being. Although the connection between mental health and overall physical shape has been extensively studied, not much focus has been placed on how mental and dental health can affect each other.
On the one hand, research studies show that many psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression and poor self-esteem, can cause dental diseases such as erosion, caries, and periodontitis (gum disease). Left untreated, people with severe mental illness and high-stress levels are almost three times as likely to lose all their teeth! This is mainly due to their poor diet and irregular routines, which result in them missing the warning signs of cavities, illnesses and infections.
Evidence also suggests that some of the medications meant to help with mental illnesses can potentially create oral health issues. For example, Lithium, used to treat bipolar disorder, and antidepressants, used to treat depression, have both shown to lead to a higher rate of Xerostomia, also known as dryness in the mouth.
On the other hand, about half of all dental patients experience some type of anxiety about their dental visits, which can sometimes lead to dental phobia. So much so, that perception of dental pain may be intensified by depression or anxiety, regardless of the actual degree of the problem! For example, burning mouth syndrome is a disorder in people with great oral health, who report an overwhelming burning sensation on their tongue and mouth. Making sure you visit a highly experienced professional and communicate your fears with them can help ease some of the nervousness around your appointment. Conscious sedation is proven to help in such instances as well. By having conscious sedation the anxiety is suppressed while under the sedative effect so the whole perception of the dental journey is a much better one.
Although there is a lot about the connection between oral health and mental health that requires further research, one thing is clear – there is a significant link between these two areas of health and wellness.
Living through an infectious disease pandemic, such as COVID-19 can provoke feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to manage our well-being and ensure we are mentally and orally healthy! Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family cope, as we tackle these challenges together:
Please speak to us if you believe you suffer from dental or other anxiety in any other form, or are dealing with any of the conditions mentioned in this article. As with all other personal and medical information, it will be kept strictly confidential. Likewise, be sure to make note with our clinic of any prescription drugs you are taking during your next visit.