Dental health and mental health: Know how one affects the other

Remember the last time you felt embarrassed about your dental hygiene and how it gave you social anxiety? It clearly indicates a deep connection between your dental health and mental health.

Poor oral health reduces quality of life and exacerbates existing mental health problems. It can also hurt your self-esteem and lead to an increase in some of your mental health symptoms. On the contrary, good oral health increases self-esteem and improves social, emotional and mental well-being.

The relationship between oral health and mental health

The health of your teeth – whether it’s the color of your teeth or the state of cavities – can reveal a lot about your overall health. It can explain your stress levels, anxiety, mood swings and chronic eating problems.

A recent study spanning several years found that people with severe mental health disorders were 2.8 times more likely to lose their teeth than others. This is generally due to untreated health conditions or difficulty accessing dental care.

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In addition, it affects your physical health, as self-soothing behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and eating processed foods can affect your health, including your oral hygiene.

dental health and mental health
Crooked teeth or cavities, pay close attention to dental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to manage your dental health and mental health?

Because mental health and dental health are intertwined, there are several things you can do to manage one that will take care of the other. Start by making small changes in your daily life. These changes, over time, will have a lasting impact and ensure you are in control of your mental and dental health. Here is a list of things you could do:

1. Eat a balanced diet

It is essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other foods packed with minerals and vitamins. Remember, what you eat affects your mood and, ultimately, your oral health. So make sure you add a wide variety of nutritious foods to your diet, as this will help protect your teeth and gums and boost your mental health.

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2. Look for signs and symptoms of poor dental health

You must actively look for signs and symptoms to ensure proper dental hygiene. For example, bleeding gums while brushing or flossing, jaw pain, toothache, black spots, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods can indicate poor oral hygiene. In addition, consult a doctor if you have other symptoms, such as dry mouth. These symptoms may be due to side effects of certain antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers.

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Watch your stress level. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Try activities to reduce stress and anxiety

Reducing stress is important. Practice stress- and anxiety-reducing activities such as deep breathing, mindfulness, yoga and visualization to reduce the impact of poor mental health on your dental hygiene. Additionally, incorporate physical relaxation techniques into your daily life as this will add another layer of relaxation for physical and mental stress relief when added to breathing exercises.

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4. Visit a dentist

Make a list of questions before you visit your dentist, who can help you find treatment so you can take care of your mental and dental health. Also, don’t be ashamed if you have problems with your teeth, gums or mouth. Instead, see a doctor and share with him if you are experiencing any mental health issues.

Remember, together you and your dentist can manage the mental health issues you have and protect your oral health and overall health.


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