Examining The Link Between Oral & Mental Health

Examining The Link Between Oral & Mental Health

Tooth decay tops the list as the most common health concern in Australia according to the Australian Dental Association (ADA). This comes as no shock as more than 50% of Australians admit that they do not follow their dentist’s advice when it comes to taking care of their oral health. Compromised oral health does not only lead to unsightly teeth and gums and immense topical discomfort but can also have an immense impact on the mental health of an individual as well. Underlying mental health concerns can also, in turn, lead to a decline in oral health, tying the two very closely together, regardless of how we look at it. Is there a link between oral & mental health?

The Effect Of Mental Health Disorders On Oral Health

Mental health concerns are rife amongst Australians with more than a million individuals experiencing depression and anxiety in any given year. According to researchers, individuals who live with varying degrees of mental illness are more prone to avoid oral care – to the extent that their dental hygiene becomes severely compromised. Intense bouts of anxiety also often lead to a type of dental phobia which results in the affected individual neglecting to visit a dentist on a regular basis. Anxiety also lends itself to an increased risk of contracting canker sores, dry mouth and excessive grinding of the teeth while depression is often linked to high cortisol levels which makes you vulnerable to gum inflammation and disease.

Eating Disorders Can Cause Dental Erosion

Long-term eating disorders such as bulimia often lead to severe erosion of the teeth due to the acidity of the vomit. Bulimia and anorexia patients are also prone to a number of nutritional deficiencies, of which calcium is the most prevalent. A severe calcium deficiency can cause the jaw bone to become weak, causing the teeth to loosen and even fall out. By actively addressing an eating disorder you can also help keep your teeth healthy and in place.

Poor Oral Health Can Amplify Mental Health Conditions

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While poor oral health can be caused by an underlying mental health condition, it can also amplify one.  Anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by the lack of confidence and social isolation brought on by poor oral health. Individuals who live with unsightly teeth filled with cavities and inflamed gums tend to withdraw into themselves, becoming reclusive and more prone to anxiety and depression brought on by loneliness.

Negating The Effects Of Mental Health On Your Mouth

When a mental health disorder takes its toll on oral health, it is time to start fighting back. The easiest way to ensure that you maintain good oral health by engaging in regular brushing and flossing, making use of a quality, organic mouthwash and visiting your dentist at least once a year.  It is equally important to prioritize your mental health, as well as any untreated conditions, could lead to a myriad of side effects that go far beyond diminished dental health. A holistic approach towards both mental and oral health can go a long way to ensure that all facets of your well-being are taken care of.

Taking care of your mouth and your mind is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself.  Due to the very close and somewhat intricate relationship between the two, there is no real way to have one without the other. Set aside time each day to engage in a useful oral hygiene regime as well as some mindful activities such as yoga or meditation and experience the best a balanced lifestyle has to offer.

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