There is a strong link between mental and physical health, and people suffering from mental health issues often find that their oral health suffers, too. With Mental Health Awareness week running from the 9 - 15th May, we at Sonisk thought it was important to spread awareness of what potential issues poor mental health can cause in the mouth, as well as tips on how to reduce these effects.
Neglect is something that is often seen with sufferers of depression. Reduced motivation and low mood can cause people to reduce or altogether stop self-care, including general physical hygiene and maintenance of good oral health routines. Another aspect of self-neglect is letting a healthy diet slide: sometimes the effort of cooking feels insurmountable, and at these times sugary snacks are easier and more readily available to consume. However, snacking often means adding lots of sugars into the mouth, which can worsen plaque and tartar.
People who suffer from eating disorders or disordered eating tend to suffer from various oral health problems. The reduction of food entering the system can lessen all-important minerals, such as calcium, from being absorbed at the optimal rate, which in turn can causes brittle teeth. People suffering from bulimia also often suffer from dental erosion as a result of the acids in vomit.
Anxiety comes in many different forms, and one of these is fear of visiting the dentist. This can stop people from attending regular dentist visits, but also from seeing a dentist when there is an active problem in the mouth.
A common side-effect for medications used to help ease mental health issues is dry mouth, which lessens saliva production. The reduction of saliva makes it harder for your mouth to fight off the bacteria which causes plaque and erosion, which can lead to the formation of cavities and oral diseases.
What To Do If This Is You
First and most important, know that you are not alone. If the above issues are affecting you, take a deep breath and try the following:
- Do what you can to maintain your routine, and reward yourself for it. If you manage to brush and floss twice a day as recommended, you have already done an amazing job. Now reward yourself with something small but meaningful for your efforts, such as taking a guilt-free nap, or treating yourself to a sonic toothbrush.
- Reduce your sugar intake. This is a small step that can make huge changes for both your teeth and overall body. If you are struggling with other aspects of self-care, tackle this first and you’ll find you’re already on your way to better mental and physical health.
- Reach out. Whether you’re more comfortable with a mental health professional or a close friend, do your best to speak to others about these problems, as the best solutions often come from outside sources.
Click here to read more about Mental Health Awareness week.