When your mental health is affected, your entire body and physical health bears the burden.
So, does your oral and dental health.
Conversely, your dental health can also impact your mental well-being.
Issues like neglect, lower self-esteem and harm to self-image can all affect your wellness, hygiene and health.
Hence, a connection exists between the two and if you struggle with any of these conditions, this article is for you.
Keep reading to know how not having good mental and dental health can impact your quality of life.
Dental Health’s Effect on Mental Health
Any visible dental health issues will affect your self-esteem as well as your confidence and body image, especially in social situations.
Hence, oral health issues should not be taken lightly.
- Having imperfect teeth
- Bad Breath
- Speech defects
- Decay and tooth loss
Each of these has a significant impact on your mental well-being and can affect your body image.
Speech defects arise from imperfect teeth. If you have crooked or misaligned teeth such as an overbite, crowding or crossbite then you may not pronounce words correctly since you were a child or young adult.
This can become embarrassing in social situations. Also, you may have a lisp because of the position of your teeth.
Improper oral health causes speech impediments which in return lead to social anxiety.
Speaking of social anxiety, another significant cause of it can be oral condition, bad breath.
If your breath smells bad you are particularly cautious around people and avoid speaking as well as socializing.
Your breath may smell foul because of several reasons such as eating food that smells strong or dry mouth.
A dry mouth is an oral condition where your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to wash away bacteria on their own.
Hence, the bacteria accumulate in the mouth and tongue leading to cavities and bad breath.
While dry mouth may also result from other medical conditions and medicines, it impacts your breath and that can lower your self-esteem increasing your social anxiety, making you conscious in social situations.
A set of imperfect teeth can also hinder you from smiling confidently. This also includes having yellow and not the perfect bright white smile.
Therefore, if you have stains on your teeth then you are likely to hide them publically and will always be conscious of your teeth while talking.
You have to keep smiling to live a healthy life and hindering it will definitely affect how you see yourself.
Similarly, if you have decay in teeth and a few missing teeth due to gum disease, injury or otherwise then you may feel underconfident in your looks.
This causes crippling anxiety and harms your self-image and perception of yourself.
Therefore, people with missing teeth report more mental health illnesses.
Other people can see certain aspects of your dental health and make a perception of it.
For instance, yellow teeth may not signify poor dental hygiene but that is what people around you may consider it to be.
Hence, it is easy to fall into depression and anxiety because of your dental health which affects your physical appearance.
Since, your body image is important to yourself, having a negative impression of it will cause you to think negatively and always stay conscious of it.
This causes the mental health issues like bad body image, low self-esteem, low confidence, depression and avoiding people due to anxiety.
Likewise, mental health issues can also cause problems for your dental health. More on this below!
Mental Health Causing Dental Health Problems
Depression and Anxiety
While they are different mental illnesses, their impact on dental health and your general well-being is quite similar.
Both of them will cause you to lose interest, become lazy and lethargic and stress about minor things.
The stress happens because of the hormone cortisol and as its level increases, your immune system weakens.
As a result, you are more prone to getting gingivitis, periodontal disease and other mouth infections like canker sores.
Likewise, depression can cause you to neglect your dental hygiene. You may end up sleeping for numerous hours and not take care of regular brushing teeth and flossing.
This will also increase the risk of getting infections, plaque accumulations and yellower teeth.
Furthermore, people with anxiety may actively avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety.
It is also because your sensitivity to pain increases when you suffer from these mental illnesses.
Neglecting all this can worsen your oral hygiene over time making you more susceptible to cavities.
Eating Disorders and Improper Nutrition
Depression and anxiety cause you to overindulge in or completely forsake food.
Depression and fatigue can make you actively avoid food causing poor nutrition.
If you are not well fed then you will have no energy in the body to perform daily tasks.
Moreover, you will also have a lack of calcium which is a quintessential mineral for your tooth enamel.
Having low calcium will cause your enamel surface to weaken over time making it more susceptible to infections.
On the other hand, it is also possible to overindulge in sugary foods and drinks when you are upset, stressed or depressed.
While these may temporarily make you happy, they will cause a bigger issue like cavity and gum infection in the long term.
Besides eating habits, there are also eating disorders such as Bulimia.
Bulimia causes the person suffering from it to first overindulge in food and binge eat. Later they vomit and throw up digesting no food.
It causes damage to your throat, teeth and saliva inside the mouth resulting in a dry mouth.
Furthermore, burning mouth syndrome arises from depression where the cheeks, roof of the mouth and tongue burn.
It also results from improper nutrition and bad eating habits.
Bipolar Affective Disorder
This disorder causes people suffering from it to overbrush vigorously.
This will cause mucosal lacerations and harm your gums.
Also, its lithium treatment causes other oral health issues like dry mouth and stomatitis.
Stress, depression, and anxiety are the root cause of several other oral health problems.
A major cause behind teeth grinding is anxiety.
You intentionally grind and clench your teeth while sleeping either because of anxiety and stress.
Children develop this habit of thumb sucking when they are anxious. However, it goes away during their toddler years.
Though, some adults may continue to suck their thumb because of anxiety as well.
This leads to buck teeth, speech impediments and misalignment of teeth and the roof of the mouth.
Antipsychotic drugs, anti-anxiety medicines and anti-depressants all cause your mouth to become dry because of less saliva production.
Less saliva in the mouth will increase the accumulation of bacteria and will soon cause cavities inside your mouth.
Smoking is injurious to your entire health but it also harms your mouth.
It causes stains and discoloration that you can only get rid of after a teeth whitening session.
Similarly, the use of alcohol and drugs can harm your liver but also result in oral cancer and gum disease.
But how do they relate to mental health?
Well, these two are coping mechanisms. You may smoke to deal with anxiety and reduce stress in that moment.
Likewise overindulging in alcohol and drugs can also be to deal with your mental issues relating to stress, anxiety and depression.
Though quitting all of these is better for your health as well as the quality of life and well-being.
So what are better coping mechanisms and solutions? Find them below!
Coping Mechanisms and Solutions
You should take care of your mental and dental health together.
As you take steps to improve one of these, you will also notice a change in the other.
Improve your mental health by:
Before you try to work on yourself, seek help from a professional psychiatrist or psychologist to figure out the root cause of your condition.
Professionals are better equipped to handle your situation and resolve it for you. Also, there is no shame in seeking help.
People suffering from mental issues are usually stuck between past and future. In order to be present, you need to prepare your mind and make your “now” pleasant.
You can make it happen by regularly exercising, exploring nature and noticing the beauty, sounds and smells around you.
Mindfulness calms the body and mind. It will also make you appreciate what you have.
Moreover, exercise helps to connect with nature and makes you fit.
Loneliness is at the core of mental problems. You need to build connections with your community to feel less isolated.
Hang out with your friends and family and discuss your issues with them. Sometimes help is nearer than we think!
You can also take steps to improve your dental health such as:
- Stick to a routine of brushing and flossing even if you are tired
- Quit smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs
- Do not overindulge in sugary foods
- Remember to eat 3 healthy meals a day
- Schedule regular visits to your dentist
Poor mental health can adversely affect dental health and vice versa.
Keeping both in check is crucial for a healthy life.
Hence, in order to live a fulfilling life, keep your health first!