Can something as different as dental health and depression be connected? According to dr Ruth Tan Lim, a licensed homeopath with the Arizona Homeopathic Integrated Medical Association (AHIMA), dental health and depression are more related than you may think.
Dental health is an integral part of our well-being. When something goes wrong with our teeth and gums, it could become a cause of a psychological problem. Meanwhile, depression and anxiety could cause a person to neglect oral hygiene and face dental health issues.
Can you fight depression with proper dental care? While it’s not the only weapon, oral hygiene can do more than you think.
If you focus on caring for your mental and oral health, you can achieve excellent results maintaining a high quality of life.
Even though depression is not a direct cause of bad dental health, it can lead to poor oral hygiene that results in gum disease, caries, and much more. People who suffer from mental illness have a higher number of decayed and missing teeth.
The indirect causes that can affect dental health and lead to tooth decay and gum disease are:
When the body is stressed, it produces high amounts of cortisol. This hormone facilitates the appearance and progress of gum disease. Stress can also provoke teeth grinding that leads to tooth decay. Extreme muscle tension associated with stressful situations could cause pain and jaw movement restrictions.
People who suffer from depression, are prone to substance use. They often smoke, drink alcohol, and use drugs to alleviate the symptoms of their conditions. Such substance use can affect oral health and lead to a variety of dental diseases, including oral cancer.
Depression sufferers use prescription medication to deal with their symptoms. Some of these meds come with side effects, such as dry mouth. Dry mouth is the cause of gum disease, mouth soreness, cavities, and tongue inflammation.
People who suffer from depression and bipolar disorder may brush their teeth too vigorously. Eventually, such brushing action leads to wearing out of the enamel and damaging the tooth. Poor enamel causes tooth deterioration.
When a person experiences depression and anxiety, he or she often develop eating disorders. Bulimia and anorexia directly affect dental health. When the body isn’t getting sufficient vitamins, especially calcium, teeth start to suffer. Meanwhile, frequent vomiting increases the acidity inside the mouth, thus stressing the enamel and damaging it.
Depressed people are prone to phobias. That’s why a person suffering from depression has all the chances of either developing or experiencing a worsening of the dental phobia. Such phobia prevents a patient from visiting a dentist regularly, thus leading to a variety of dental problems.
People suffering from depression often neglect body care. They stop taking showers, changing clothes, and brushing their teeth. As a result, numerous dental problems develop, from cavities and caries to gum disease. According to experts from a San Diego dental clinic, Bajars & Bajars, neglecting to brush your teeth for just one week could lead to tooth decay.
Now that we know that depression can easily cause problems with teeth and gums, let’s find out how it works the other way around.
A study done by researchers at Deakin University has found that poor dental health increased the possibility of suffering from depression. How can poor dental health possibly cause depression?
While depression is caused by a variety of factors, one of them is inflammation. Inflammation can occur due to a lack of dental hygiene.
Inflammation due to poor oral health doesn’t just stay inside the mouth. It affects the rest of the body, including the stomach and intestines.
Poor dental health coupled with dental phobia often leads to people living with chronic pain. A damaged tooth or an inflamed nerve can cause pain, which can often be severe. However, many people prefer to bear the condition rather than visit a doctor.
Chronic pain is one of the critical factors for determining depression. With dental health worsening without proper care, such pain is highly likely to cause mental disorders.
Poor dental health doesn’t just cause pain and discomfort. It reflects on the person’s appearance. Yellow or missing teeth, bleeding gums, bad smell, and the like could make a person feel highly self-conscious.
People with dental problems may experience trouble making new relationships, achieving goals, interacting with coworkers, and much more. All of the above can eventually lead to anxiety and depression.
When teeth and gums are in bad condition, people have trouble eating. As a result, they develop poor eating habits. The lack of nutrition can lead to mental problems, such as depression. Meanwhile, when people stop enjoying the process of eating, they are more likely to develop anxiety.
Problems with teeth and gums can become the cause of depression even if the person is otherwise healthy. It’s important to maintain oral hygiene to avoid both physical and mental problems.
Poor oral health and depression go hand and hand. One causes the other and vice versa. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s vital to pay special attention to dental hygiene and follow dentists’ recommendations. Regular brushing and check-ups don’t just prevent caries and gum disease, they can maintain your mental health and improve the quality of life tremendously.