It’s no secret that your mental health plays an enormous role in your day-to-day life and overall health. Disorders like anxiety and depression are known to cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, and much more. However, did you know that your mental health also impacts your dental health? Read on to find out how anxiety and depression change your teeth and gums, and what you can do to keep yourself healthy.
Anxiety & Oral Health
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. Studies suggest that roughly 40 million adults and teenagers suffer from them. Not only do mental health problems like anxiety cause you to feel stressed, but the tension they cause puts you at a higher risk of:
- Chipped or broken teeth: A common habit associated with stress is nervously chewing on hard objects like pens, fingernails, and ice. These tough items wear down and weaken your enamel, dramatically increasing your risk of chipped or broken teeth.
- Bruxism: Bruxism (unconsciously grinding your teeth in your sleep) is thought to be brought on by stress as well. The prolonged excess pressure on your teeth every night can cause tooth fractures and sensitivity, plus a higher risk of cavities.
- Jaw disorders: Jaw problems like TMJ disorder are often associated with stress since they’re often caused by grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, which can happen frequently when you’re feeling tense.
Depression & Oral Health
On the other end of the mental health spectrum is depression, which also affects millions of people and is cited as a leading cause of disability. Depression can cause you to lose interest in activities like daily oral hygiene and visiting the dentist twice a year, elevating your risk of:
- Cavities and tooth decay: Daily oral hygiene is your number one defense against cavities, so when depression makes it difficult to brush and floss every day, it becomes much more challenging to keep tooth decay at bay.
- Gum disease: Patients with depression are also much more likely to develop gum disease. The main method for preventing gum disease is with regular flossing, which can be seen as even more arduous than brushing by those with depression.
- Tooth loss: The combination of avoiding regular oral hygiene and dental checkups takes a significant toll on your long-term oral health. Studies show that those with depression are at a significantly higher risk of losing one or more permanent teeth.
Keeping Yourself Healthy
Thankfully, there are ways to keep yourself and your smile healthy if you suffer from a mental health issue like anxiety or depression. Try setting digital alarms or giving yourself small rewards for brushing and flossing every day. Mental illness can feel very isolating, so it’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone! Talk to your doctor, therapist, and dentist about how you’re feeling so you can begin making a plan for managing your mental health and keeping your body healthy.
About the Practice
At The Dental Center of Jacksonville, our team is dedicated to helping the families of Jacksonville and the surrounding communities live their best lives with happy, healthy smiles. With a relaxing office atmosphere and friendly dental team, they go above and beyond to make every visit as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. If you are concerned about how your mental health is affecting your oral health, we would be happy to partner with you and help you achieve optimal oral health. To learn more, we can be contacted online or at (904) 262-9466.