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How Mental Health Impacts Oral Health

April 3, 2023.TruAssure.0 Likes.0 Comments

How Mental Health Impacts Oral Health

Woman sitting on a couch, appearing to be sad

Did you know that your mental health can affect your oral health? It’s easy to understand how brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, you might not realize that your emotional well-being can also affect your teeth and gums. Chronic stress, depression, and anxiety can affect oral health in various ways, and it’s essential to consider mental health in oral health care. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between mental health and oral health.

Stress and Oral Health

Stress and anxiety are common mental health challenges that affect many people globally. Stress can make your heart rate increase, breathing shallow, and blood pressure spike, leading to clenching and grinding of teeth. 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 has also been proven to contribute to:

  • Inflammation of the gum tissues
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Canker sores
  • Facial or jaw pain
  • Cold sores

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 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 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.







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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