Do you remember the last time you felt embarrassed about your dental hygiene and how that triggered social anxiety in you? This clearly indicates a deep relationship between your dental health and your mental health.
Poor oral health decreases quality of life and exacerbates existing mental health issues. It can also affect your self-esteem and lead to an increase in some of your mental health symptoms. On the contrary, good oral health builds confidence and improves social, emotional and mental well-being.
The link between oral health and mental health
The health of your teeth – whether it’s the color of your teeth or the state of cavities – can reveal many things about your overall health. This may explain your stress levels, anxiety, mood, and chronic eating issues.
A recent study spanning several years found that people with severe mental disorders were 2.8 times more likely to have lost their teeth than those without. This is usually due to untreated health conditions or difficulty accessing dental care.
Additionally, it also affects your physical health, as self-soothing behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and eating processed foods, can impact your health, including your oral hygiene.
How to manage your dental health and mental health?
Since mental health and dental health are closely linked, there are several things you can do to manage one, and it will take care of the other. Start by making small changes in your daily life. These changes, over time, will have a lasting impact and ensure that you keep your mental and dental health in check. Here is a list of things you could do:
1. Eat a balanced diet
A healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other foods rich in minerals and vitamins is essential. Remember that what you eat impacts your mood and ultimately your oral health. Therefore, be sure to add a wide variety of nutritious foods to your diet as this will help protect your teeth and gums and improve your mental health.
2. Look for signs and symptoms of poor dental health
You should actively look for signs and symptoms to ensure good dental hygiene. For example, bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, jaw pain, toothache, blackheads, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods can indicate poor oral hygiene. In addition to this, consult a doctor if you experience other symptoms, such as a dry mouth. These symptoms could be due to the side effects of certain antidepressants, anxiolytics and mood stabilizers.
Read also: Do you have a toothache in winter? Follow these 7 expert tips to avoid it
3. Try stress and anxiety reduction activities
Reducing stress is important. Practice stress and anxiety reduction activities such as deep breathing, mindfulness, yoga, and visualization to reduce the impact of poor mental health on your dental hygiene. Also, inculcate physical relaxation techniques in your daily life as this will add another layer of relaxation for physical and psychological stress relief when added to breathing exercises.
4. Visit a dentist
Make a list of questions before you visit your dentist who can help you find treatment so you can take care of your mental and dental health. Also, don’t be embarrassed if you have problems with your teeth, gums or mouth. Instead, see a doctor and share with him if you have any mental health issues.
Remember that you and your dentist can work together to tackle your mental health issues and protect your oral and overall health.
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