THE LINK BETWEEN DENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH

What You Need To Know?

How your teeth and gums can alert dentists to other health problems

A person puts toothpaste on a toothbrush

Going to your dentist twice a year is important to make sure your teeth are in tip-top shape. But you might not realize that a dental check-ups can also be an opportunity for a mental health tune-up

Can dental health affect mental health?

Yes, your dental health can affect your mental health. When your oral health is suffering, it can decrease the quality of your life or exacerbate mental health issues, if you feel embarrassed about the health of your teeth, you may notice that this triggers some social anxiety. You may withdraw. Or it may hurt your self-esteem. This can lead to an increase in some of your mental health symptoms.

However the opposite is also true — your mental health can affect your dental health, such as the health of your teeth and your gums. When you’re under stress, you might ignore your dental hygiene. In fact, the health of your teeth can reveal many things about your overall health. It gives a clue about your stress level, your anxiety, your mood and the presence of chronic eating problems.

All of this can also affect your physical health. For example, some people engage in self-soothing behaviors — like drinking, smoking or eating a lot of highly processed foods, all of which have documented negative health impacts.

What dental health tells us about mental health

If you feel depressed or anxious, it can often feel impossible to take care of yourself and do even small daily tasks. That includes taking care of your dental health. You may not have the motivation or the energy to attend to dental hygiene.

Accordingly, your mouth and teeth offer many clues to potential mental health issues. If you have anxiety, you may notice that you grind your teeth at night or experience jaw pain. Worn enamel may also be a very big red flag that you are experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress.

People living with OCD or bipolar disorder might also have worn enamel, from brushing their teeth several times a day, which is more of a ritual than a cleaning procedure.

Worn enamel can also be a side effect of a eating disorder. People struggling with eating disorders often have high levels of tooth decay or difficulty with their gums. This is due to malnutrition or from eating an abundance of sugary or highly processed foods.

How can I manage my mental health and dental health?

Because mental health and dental health are interconnected, things you do to manage one also benefit the other. Luckily, you can make small changes to your day-to-day life that can have a lasting impact.

Eat a healthy diet

Consuming healthy food — in other words, a diet high in fruits, veggies and other vitamin-packed items — is always a good idea. What you eat impacts greatly both your mood and your oral health. Be sure to eat a large variety of nutritious foods as well. This is going to boost your mood and protect your teeth and gums.

Keep an eye on any signs and symptoms you might have

There are many signs and symptoms that something is up with your dental hygiene. Your gums might bleed while brushing your teeth or flossing. Other times, your jaw might ache. Or maybe you experience sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

Dry mouth is a condition that reduces the saliva in your mouth, Saliva is really important for your oral health. Not only does it help you digest food, but saliva also helps kills harmful germs that can lead to tooth and gum problems.

Practice stress reduction activities

If you notice that you have worn enamel, this can indicate high levels of anxiety and stress. In that case, you might want to practice some stress and anxiety reduction activities. Exercise, socializing, helping others and even keeping a pet could help reduce your stress.

See your dentist

Dentists aren’t just there to polish up your pearly whites. They can also detect when other things are going on in your life. Dentists are sometimes the first professional to identify and diagnose a mental health issue.

How to deal with dental anxiety

Of course, getting to the dentist can sometimes be challenging due to nerves, fear or anxiety, it’s normal to feel a little bit anxious before a dental appointment, some people avoid the dentist at all costs. They have what is known as a dental phobia. If this sounds like you, it’s really important to contact a therapist who can help you and find treatment so that you can take care of your mental health and your dental health.”

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