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How Mental Health Impacts Oral Health

May 3, 2021.TruAssure.0 Likes.0 Comments

How Mental Health Impacts Oral Health

The health of your mouth and mind are more connected that you may realize. It’s possible that your mental health has even changed how you take care of your oral health during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 45% of U.S. adults have said COVID-19-related worry and stress is negatively impacting their mental health.1

Practicing good daily oral health habits is always important, but your routine may require some extra attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Take time during Mental Health Awareness Month to evaluate your current mental and oral health so you can protect your smile and well-being.

Stress and Oral Health

It’s natural to feel stressed, especially during a global pandemic. However, when it begins to disrupt your normal routines, pay attention. When an excess amount of the stress hormone cortisol is found in the mouth, you’re more susceptible to chronic diseases, including gum disease.2 It’s also been proven to contribute to:

  • inflammation of the gum tissues
  • canker sores
  • dry mouth
  • teeth grinding

Mental Illness and Oral Health

Mental illnesses impact your mood, thoughts and behaviors. A diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness can cause a lack of motivation, including in caring for your oral and overall health and well-being.

Depression and anxiety are commonly associated with several oral health issues, including gum disease, tooth decay and teeth grinding. Consistent teeth grinding caused by stress and anxiety can lead to damaged teeth and even tooth loss in severe cases.3 People with a severe mental illness are also more likely to have periodontal disease.4

Take Care of the Basics

When managing a mental illness, caring for your oral health may seem more difficult. You can protect your mental and oral health by taking the following steps:

  • Eat well-balanced meals. A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and dairy can help your teeth get the nutrients they need to stay healthy while also avoiding unnecessary sugar that can cause an increase in your blood sugar.
  • Exercise often. Staying active on a regular basis helps reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Exercise also releases endorphins, natural brain chemicals that improve your sense of well-being.
  • Get plenty of sleep. A full night’s rest is key to good oral and overall health. People who get seven to eight hours of sleep per night show less periodontal disease progression.5
  • Brush and floss daily. Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day does wonders for your smile.
  • Talk to your dentist. Your dentist can provide suggestions to help strengthen your daily oral health habits.
  • Speak to a mental health professional. While your dentist is trained to care for your oral health, a mental health professional can focus on your overall well-being.

When you’re facing mental and oral health issues, there’s help to be found. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist, physician and/or a mental health professional to get the care you need.

You can make a difference in your well-being. Diet, sleep and exercise routines are associated with improved physical and mental health.6 Follow a positive, manageable daily schedule, so you can keep your oral and overall health on track.

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1https://www.kff.org/health-reform/report/kff-health-tracking-poll-early-april-2020/

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5851323/

3https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/teeth-grinding-bruxism

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4841282/

5https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/news/20070518/smoking-and-sleep-affect-oral-health

6Haines, J., McDonald, J., O’Brien, A., Sherry, B., Bottino, C., Scmidt, M.E., Taveras, E.M. (2013) Healthy habits, happy homes: randomized trial to improve household routines among pre-school-aged children. JAMA Pediatrics, 167,1072-1090.

 

 

 

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