Disclaimer: I may have been financially compensated or be gifted products from the companies mentioned in this post, unless otherwise stated. All opinions and thoughts are genuinely my own. If you wish to find out more, please see my DISCLAIMER page for more information.
The terms mental and oral health are rarely uttered in the same breath. After all, if you’ve got a problem with your mental health, you see your therapist, whereas if you have an issue with your teeth, you go to the dentist. The two worlds rarely collide. But from a naïve and child-like perspective, that seems strange: your brain and mouth are both contained in your head, so surely if one gets sick, it could affect the other? Physical proximity has to count for something, doesn’t it?
It turns out that it does. And the causality works both ways: poor dental health can lead to poor oral hygiene, and vice versa. Unexpected but true. Here’s how.
How Poor Mental Health Can Lead To Poor Dental Health
Depression isn’t just a feeling that you get: it’s a condition that can affect the way you behave in multiple ways. People with depression have been shown to have a higher consumption of many of the substances associated with poor oral health, such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. High levels of use of these chemicals help to speed up tooth decay processes, stain the lead, and lead to a general decline in overall healthfulness.
Depression can also lead to self-neglect, or the inability to look after yourself in a regular way. If you feel depressed, you are less likely to want to clean your teeth and more likely to have to visit the emergency dentist. Bi-polar can have an effect too. People with bipolar are more likely to engage in over-brushing, resulting in dental abrasion. Abrasion removes the enamel from the surface of the teeth faster than it can recover, leading to a loss of tooth volume over time. In extreme cases, the loss of enamel can expose the core of the tooth, requiring specialist interventions, like veneers and false teeth.
Finally, eating disorders like bulimia can damage teeth. Stomach acid is highly acidic and is strong enough to dissolve the material on the surface of teeth. Repeated vomiting, therefore, can strip away tooth enamel and result in tooth shortening and loss.
How Poor Oral Health Can Lead To Mental Health Issues
Causality works the other way too. Poor oral health can leave a person feeling depressed and have problems with their self-image. People with bad breath, for instance, report having higher levels of social anxiety. They worry about the effect that their bad breath will have on their social relationships. Missing teeth can be damaging to mental health too. People who have had a history of mental illness are more than 2.8 times as likely to have lost all their teeth.
Finally, people with poor oral health are likely to have higher levels of systemic inflammation. Inflammation, caused by conditions like gingivitis, can affect mood. When inflammatory markers enter the bloodstream, they interact with brain cells, causing the brain itself to become inflamed, even if there is nothing wrong with it. Science shows that people who have higher levels of inflammation in their brains report higher levels of anxiety and depression than those with lower levels.
Disclaimer: I may have been financially compensated or be gifted products from the companies mentioned throughout my blog, unless otherwise stated. Posts on LouiseRoseRailton.com may contain items which have been gifted from a company, are a PR sample or paid for with a gift voucher. LouiseRoseRailton.com also contains sponsored posts, in which I have received paid compensation. All opinions and thoughts are genuinely my own. If you wish to find out more, please see my DISCLAIMER page for more information.
I'm Louise, a 28 year old blogger living in York. I'm a freelance blogger and Teaching Assistant. This is my corner of the internet, in which I cover topics such as mental health, travel, fashion, lifestyle and so much more!
February 2019 – Leeds
March 2019 – Manchester
April 2019 – Harrogate & Hull
May 2019 – Yorkshire Spa Break
June 2019 – Manchester & Disney Land Paris
August 2019 – Leeds & Beverley