When people think about their health it is normal to categorize it. We categorize our mental health with our feelings, our oral health with our mouth, our physical health with our body, etc. However, it is important to remember that all of these categories make up our overall health. They all work together to keep us healthy. Specifically, let’s dive into the correlation between our oral health and mental health.
Studies show that two-thirds of toothache reports came from people who were suffering from a mental health issue. Research also shows that 50% of people who suffered from depression, classified their teeth as average or poor. A review of many studies found a strong correlation between gum disease and mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
So, with those facts, you might ask why there is this scientific link. The link comes from the behavioral effects of mental illnesses. Anxiety, depression, and stress can cause people to subconsciously change their behavior. For example, a person with depression usually loses interest in activities, which ultimately causes impairment in daily life tasks. More specifically, a person with depression can be inconsistent with brushing their teeth, maintaining a good diet, and visiting the dentist. Another example can be made with anxiety. People who suffer from anxiety are more likely to grind their teeth.
In addition to possible behavioral effects, mental illnesses can affect our oral health due to biological reasons. There is a hormone called ‘cortisol’ that impacts our body when we feel a lot of stress. When the hormone levels increase, the immune system gets weaker. When this happens, it can result in vulnerability to gum disease. Another biological effect can occur due to medications. Often people with mental illnesses are prescribed medications to cope with their illness. These medications can cause a dry mouth. This dry mouth can mean that plaque, bacteria, and debris aren’t getting rinsed properly. This ultimately means there is more opportunity for cavities to form.
Thankfully, when mental illnesses affect our oral health, there are things to do that can help. Finding a good dental practice that considers your overall health is the first step. At Philadelphia Dentistry, we value the health and safety of all of our patients. Patient care is our number one priority. Therefore, booking an appointment with us will ensure your mental health is not affecting your oral health.
Let’s Get Social
To stay connected with us, follow us on social media @PhillyDentistry on Instagram, @PhiladelphiaDentistry on Facebook, and @DrKenCirkaDMD on Twitter!