Taking care of your health properly requires a comprehensive, total body approach and acknowledging that all our systems are connected. Your dental health is a critical aspect of your physical health, and by extension, your mental health. Oral health and mental health are interconnected, so one continuously impacts the other.
How Does Mental Health Affect Your Dental Health?
There is an inextricable link between your mental state and your dental hygiene. Studies show a link between depression, dental negligence, and a heightened risk of periodontal disease. This connection stems from the lack of self-care that a depressed individual may perform. A lack of proper oral care leads to increased incidences of cavities, bad breath, gum disease, and other dental hygiene issues.
Dental anxiety can also play a significant role in your oral health. Individuals who experience dental anxiety are distressed by the idea of visiting the dentist and undergoing dental procedures. This specific anxiety can stem from a broader mental health condition, like general anxiety disorder (GAD), or it can result from past negative experiences at a dental practice.
In a 2015 study of 473 patients, 58.8% had dental anxiety. An individual with dental anxiety or phobia might experience the following symptoms when they think about going to or arrive at a dental appointment:
- Racing heartbeat or heart palpitations
- Crying or other clear signs of distress
- Aggression or humor as a defense mechanism to mask anxiety
- Low blood pressure and fainting
Many people who experience dental anxiety often skip their dental appointments for long periods to avoid dealing with these symptoms of distress, which negatively impacts their oral health in the long term. Dental problems like cavities, gum disease, and even oral cancer can progress to a harmful stage if they aren’t caught early.
How Oral Health Impacts Your Mental Wellbeing
There is a two-way connection between dental and mental health. Just as your mental health may impact your ability or desire to seek oral care, a lack of proper dental hygiene can have devastating effects on your mental health. People with severe mental illness are 2.7 times more likely to lose all their teeth than the general population.
Poor oral hygiene can result in speech changes and bad breath, leading to social anxiety and self-esteem issues. Since people with mental illness are disproportionately affected by dental health problems because of various factors like lack of access to treatment, fear of treatment, or poor oral hygiene routines, they are more likely to suffer these additional self-image issues as a result.
The connection between mental and oral health is undeniable. It creates an unfortunate loop that means individuals dealing with mental health issues are more likely to experience poor dental health and vice versa.
Get In Touch With Us Today
To break the cycle, confide in your dentist about any mental health concerns you are dealing with. There are solutions for dental anxiety that your dentist can recommend to try and make you feel more relaxed.
If you’re seeking a convenient and comfortable dental care experience, Aurora Dental Group is here for you. Our talented staff understands the vital connection between your dental and mental health, and our goal is to deliver total satisfaction to every patient in our care. Call us today at (630) 326-4874 to learn more about becoming a patient.