Oral Health and Mental Health Link

Do you know there’s an oral health and mental health link? When you’re brushing your teeth every night before bed, you’re probably not thinking about how your oral health can affect your overall wellbeing and mental health. It seems like a big leap to take when understanding your teeth have anything to do with your mental health, but studies show that the oral and mental health link is real.

“Mental health impacts your overall health, including your oral health or the health of your teeth and your gums. Dentists are sometimes the first professional to identify and diagnose a mental health issue and they make a lot of referrals to counselors and therapists,” says Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.


Related Article: A Deep Dive into the Connections Between Oral and Behavioral Health

Anxiety and Stress Contribute to Your Oral Health

If your daily life is stressing you out … you could be clenching or grinding your teeth without even knowing. This can cause tooth and jaw pain, facial pain, and dental wear & damage. If you’re busy and struggling to juggle your schedule, you may be missing your morning and/or evening tooth brushing and flossing routine. When our mental health is struggling, how well we take care of ourselves can certainly be a struggle as well.

Here are some examples of the oral and mental health link:

  • Depression or low energy levels can leave us unmotivated and we may forget to take care of our teeth and gums.
  • Anxiety can give us dental anxiety, meaning we’re scared to visit the dentist and may avoid doing so.
  • Depression and anxiety can increase our pain levels and may make us worried about getting any dental work done.

Over time, neglecting our oral health can lead to issues such as:

  • Tooth loss
  • Gum disease
  • Dry mouth

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“A strong interaction exists between oral health and mental health. People with mental illness, particularly severe mental illness, are at greater risk of oral health problems because of poor nutrition and oral hygiene; the heavy consumption of sugary drinks; comorbid substance misuse including tobacco, alcohol, or psychostimulants; and financial or other barriers to accessing dental care,” according to Steve Kisley, MD, PhD.

Read more of Kisley’s study HERE.

Do You Have Stressed Out Oral Health?

You may think about stress being a factor behind many health problems, but now that we know the truth is, stress can also have a negative effect on your oral health as well due to the oral and mental health link.

There are six main ways that stress can affect your oral health, including:

  1. TMJ Disorder: TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints. These are the joints that you use to move your lower jaw. They are located just below your ear. Stiffness or swelling in these joints can cause a TMJ disorder. Symptoms can include clicking, popping, and pain. Stress is a major cause of TMJ problems. For instance, stress can cause you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth.
  2. Canker Sores: If you are like most people, you have suffered through occasional attacks of these painful and annoying mouth ulcers. Triggers include vitamin B deficiency and any type of mouth injury or irritation. Several studies now show that stress is another big trigger for canker sores. If you still get a canker sore, your doctor or dentist may prescribe a cream or to relieve the pain.
  3. Biting Your Nails: Nail biting can move your teeth out of position. It can also damage your teeth. The germs from your fingernails can be transferred to your mouth and can lead to mouth infections.
  4. Teeth Grinding: If you grind your teeth, you probably do it while you sleep which can cause headaches, a sore jaw, and damage to your teeth. Severe teeth grinding can cause oral health issues, such as loose teeth or even broken or lost teeth. Stress and anxiety are a major cause of teeth grinding. Meditation, counseling and exercise are some ways to reduce the stress that causes teeth grinding. Your dentist can also make you a mouth guard to wear at night that will protect your teeth.
  5. Gum Disease: Stress makes it harder for your body to fight off infections. Gum disease is an infection of your gums that can cause bleeding gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. Stress can also contribute to gum disease if it causes you to clench your jaw, grind your teeth, or smoke cigarettes.
  6. Burning Mouth: Burning mouth syndrome is a dry, hot and burning feeling in your mouth. Anxiety, stress, and depression may be part of the problem. Dry mouth syndrome is more common in women after menopause, so hormone changes may also be involved. Treatment for dry mouth syndrome can include stress counseling and antidepressant medication. Stress-related drinking and smoking can make burning mouth worse.

Each of these issues are examples of oral and mental health link that can be a result from too much stress in your life. However, there are steps you can take to keep your mouth healthy, so you don’t have stressed out oral health!

Related Article: Mental Health Awareness Month: Link Between Oral Health and Mental Health

Healthy Mind, Healthy Smile

To help our oral health and in turn, our mental health, here are a few tips!

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a quality toothbrush
  • Floss your teeth daily
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Try adding in exercise and relaxation into your weekly routine
  • Visit your dentist regularly – they are often our first line of defense
  • Seek help from a health care professional if you’re concerned about your mental health

Related Article from WebMD: How Does Your Oral Health Affect Your Mental Health?

Solution for Grinding Your Teeth – Mouthguard

Dr. Roberts can help prevent fractured and cracked teeth by designing an oral appliance or mouthguard to wear at night to keep you from grinding and clenching your teeth. We know there’s a dental health and mental health link and thankfully, mouthguards are a simple and affordable way to protect your teeth at night. They can also help with sleep apnea and snoring. Each mouthguard will be custom-made by Dr. Roberts to fit your mouth comfortably and will keep your jaws separated so they don’t grind together.

There’s more good news: Custom mouthguards or oral appliance therapy is covered by many insurance plans and the team at Adams Dental Group can help answer any questions you may have about your coverage.

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The Team at Adams Dental Group Wants You to be Healthy

As you know, the oral and mental health link is so important; however, when your body is stressed, it can lead to having stressed out oral health! A solid foundation that includes daily brushing and flossing is key for you and your family. Dr. Roberts and his Team can help you maintain or improve your oral health, because they can assess your situation and customize a treatment plan at whatever stage you find yourself.

It’s also important to stay up to date on your dental exams, cleanings and routine visits. In the meantime, having a consistent and steady oral health routine – brushing twice a day and flossing once – is the best thing you can do for your oral health! Remember to schedule your dental exam and cleaning at Adams Dental Group in Kansas City, KS. We look forward to seeing you at your next dental appointment.

Local dentist, Travis A. Roberts and his experienced, friendly team at Adams Dental Group offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the Kansas City, KS area. We have two locations that are conveniently located and offer appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At Adams Dental Group, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to restorative procedures, including dental implants, dentures, endodontic or root canal treatment, teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at  (913) 296-8030 to schedule an appointment.

July 26th, 2022

Posted In: Dental Health Tips

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