Research has shown that your oral health and your overall health are closely linked, and specifically mental health. Here, we’ll explain whether gum disease can cause mental health issues.
Can Gum Disease Cause Mental Health Issues?
While gum disease and mental health issues are linked, there is no evidence that gum disease causes mental health issues. In fact, it is often the other way around. There is plenty of research that shows that those who have mental health issues also have poor oral health. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that about two thirds of those with depression also had toothaches and half rated their oral health fair to poor. It is believed that mental health issues can actually worsen gum disease because many produce a hormone called cortisol, which is the body’s stress hormone. As cortisol levels increase, your immune system weakens which makes people more at risk for developing oral health issues like gum disease. Additionally, those with mental health issues often focus much less on oral health than they should, skipping on brushing, not scheduling appointments, eating unhealthy diets, etc.
What Kind of Mental Health Issues Are Associated with Poor Oral Health?
There are a number of mental health issues that are linked to poor oral health issues, specifically gum disease. Anxiety is one of the most common, with many people suffering from a dental phobia which causes them to miss regular checkups and cleanings and therefore developing cavities and leaving them untreated, which can lead to gum disease. Similarly, those with depression often cannot bring themselves to be motivated to get to the dentist or even brush their teeth regularly. Those with eating disorders like bulimia often experience dental erosion caused by their acidic vomit. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder may also be over-vigorous brushers which can lead to the enamel being brushed away and making teeth more susceptible to oral health issues like tooth decay and gum disease.
How Can You Combat the Effects of Mental Health on Your Oral Health?
The best way to combat bad oral health is to maintain your daily oral health habits. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each, floss at least once a day, and make sure you’re using a fluoride toothpaste. If you have dental anxiety, it’s important to talk to your dentist about your concerns so that they can work with you to figure out a way for you to get regular cleanings and checkups without you feeling anxious.
If you have any other questions about the link between your mental and oral health, contact us today to schedule and appointment!