Like we mentioned in our past blog, good oral health isn’t just important for the look of your smile. Poor oral health has been tied to plenty of overall health problems such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and more.With that being said, it’s no surprise that mental health can also be linked to your dental health.
The connection between these two can be explained in a number of ways. Our dental implant patients know first-hand how tooth loss and poor oral health can affect their confidence and mental wellbeing. In other instances, medication for mental illnesses can actually spur on oral health problems. In any case, we believe it’s important to understand how mental illness affects oral health and vice versa. To explain more on this topic, Dr. Richard Ekstein gives his readers here in North Arlington, NJ an in-depth look at the connection between oral health and mental wellbeing.
The mind-mouth connection can be a difficult relationship to understand because the two affect each other in a number of ways. One of the most obvious ways you can see how these two are related is by considering the ways medications affect oral health. For those affected by mental illnesses, medications are absolutely essential for managing their mental health. Although these medications help handle symptoms of mental illnesses, they can also come with side effects that can impact oral health.
Antidepressants, in particular, are known for the oral health side effects that can occur. Researchers from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, Alton looked at the medical records of more than 1,800 dental patients to see how depression drugs affect dental health. From their research, they found that one in five patients taking antidepressants had some sort of dental problem. One of the most common dental problems they noticed was dry mouth.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is known to cause several health problems. Some of the signs of dry mouth include:
Dry mouth causes oral health problems because saliva plays an important role in protecting your teeth. Saliva helps ward off gum disease and tooth decay because there are antimicrobial components of saliva that help kill off bacteria. Saliva is also important because it contains minerals that help protect your tooth enamel from acid attacks. The acidity of your mouth is constantly changing according to the foods and drinks you consume. Saliva is important because it helps neutralize these acids.Not producing enough saliva can make you more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay.
As you can see, mental illness can have a huge impact on oral health and the same is true for the reverse situation. Individuals that deal with oral health can often find their mental health affected by the state of their smile. Typically tooth loss can cause individuals to experience low self-esteem and social anxiety along with difficulty in forming intimate relationships. A change in the visual appearance of a smile isn’t the only way mental health will be affected. Poor oral health can also affect an individual’s ability to speak and chew, which will end up affecting their confidence in many social situations.
A study from Deakin University surveyed more than 10,000 Americans and found a connection between dental health and depressions. What’s even more interesting is that researchers found that it is a dose-responsive relationship. This means that more dental conditions indicated more severe depression. Although researchers don’t quite understand the relationship between depression and oral health, most believe that that the two are connected because they are both considered inflammatory conditions.
The state of our oral health has an effect on all aspects of our well-being, including our mental health. If you’re currently dealing with tooth loss, we recommend looking into restorative treatments as soon as possible. Here at Smile Design Specialist, we’ve been able to give our patients a healthy, natural-looking smile with the help of dental implants. Dental implants are the modern solution to tooth loss because patients can enjoy a smile that is as stable as their natural teeth. To get started on your dental implant journey, contact our office today to schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Ekstein.
Dr. Richard Ekstein
312 Belleville Turnpike #3b
North Arlington, NJ 07031
Monday: 8AM – 6PM
Tuesday: 7:30AM – 6PM
Wednesday: 8AM – 6PM
Thursday: 12PM – 8PM