One in five people in the United States suffer from a mental illness experience every year. However, its surprising how much of an affect on your physical body mental illness can have. How does mental health affect oral health? Let’s take a look at some direct issues that our teeth face when we’re feeling low.
How Does Mental Health Affect Oral Health?
Bruxism (teeth grinding)
Bruxism is the technical name given to tooth-grinding or the habit of clenching one’s teeth together. Tooth-grinding is usually the result of anxiety disorders, but can also result from other psychological conditions affecting oral health, such as frustration and stress.
Those who grind their teeth tend to do it in their sleep, and so many are unaware that they have the condition. Tooth-grinding, however, can damage the teeth by wearing down the enamel if it persists over the long term.
The best way to manage tooth-grinding is to deal with the underlying anxiety. It may also be prudent to wear a custom-made orthotic splint, a device which prevents the wearer from forcing teeth together as they sleep. Bruxism solutions are available; contact your holistic dentist for advice.
Increase in acid reflux
When stressed, the body can respond by increasing acid production. This acid can then escape the confines of the stomach and enter the mouth where it damages teeth. Dental erosion is a common side effect of acid reflux disease and as such should be noted when it starts to occur.
Dentists recommend that people limit their consumption of highly acidic foods—such as lemons, tea, coffee, citrus, and tomato—to help decrease erosion caused by acidic foods and beverages. Stomach acid is many times more acidic than lemons, and it can cause significantly more damage to teeth. However, cutting down on acidic foods overall can help slow tooth erosion. You can also manage acid reflux by taking regular walks and stopping smoking (as this causes the muscles in the esophagus to relax too much).
Paranoia and other anxiety disorders can lead some people to obsess over their teeth, worrying that every minor chip or pain is a sign that they need to have all their teeth removed. Although thoughts such as these do not directly cause damage to our oral health, they may compel sufferers of anxiety or paranoia to do things to their teeth which could cause harm.
For instance, a person who believes that they may have an oral cavity may take to brushing their teeth excessively. Over-brushing could then lead to fluorosis of the enamel and a weakening of the teeth. Excessive use of mouthwash could also disrupt the oral microbiome which, in turn, affects the gut and gastrointestinal health.
If you’re worried about your teeth falling out, go to the dentist. Avoid brushing more than three times per day or pressing down too hard with your toothbrush. Choose a soft or gentle toothbrush and avoid using a harsh, abrasive toothbrush.
Ignoring oral hygiene
Mental health may also affect oral hygiene but in the opposite direction. People suffering from depression may find that they lack the will and energy to brush their teeth in the morning. Failing to brush can lead to plaque buildups which in turn lead to, periodontal gum disease, decay, and potential tooth loss.
Mental illness and dental care go hand in hand. Those with depression should seek help from their doctor, especially if they are struggling to find the energy to perform basic tasks, like brushing their teeth. Doctors can provide advice and drugs to alleviate symptoms while the patient seeks help.
Help Catch Psychological Conditions Affecting Oral Health
Someone suffering from mental health may ask themselves how does mental health affect oral health? Four Seasons Dental Spa practices functional dentistry in the efforts to catch psychological conditions affecting oral health before they affect your overall health. Our team is ready to discuss your overall health and how it affects your mouth, so call today!