Properly caring for your health calls for a holistic, whole-body approach and recognizing that your systems are linked. Your oral health significantly impacts your physical health, which by extension, affects your mental health. To help you better understand this claim, let’s explore the connection.
How Does Your Mental State Impact Your Dental Hygiene?
Your mental health and oral hygiene are inextricably connected. There’s plenty of research showing a link between depression, poor oral hygiene, and a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. In most cases, this connection can be explained by the lack of self-care typical of depressed individuals. It can manifest as increased instances of cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other dental hygiene problems.
Dental anxiety can also have a negative impact on your dental hygiene. The thought of going to the dentist and having dental care procedures done stresses people with this type of anxiety. It’s often a result of prior traumatic encounters at a dentist’s office or a more general mental health condition such as general anxiety disorder.
If you have dental anxiety, you may experience certain symptoms when considering or going to your dental appointment. These include crying or other obvious signs of distress, racing pulse or heart palpitations, use of humor or aggression to mask anxiety, or low blood pressure and fainting. You may find yourself skipping your dental appointments for extended periods to avoid facing these distressing feelings, but doing this will only lead to long-term oral and general health issues.
How Your Oral Health Impacts Your Mental Well-Being
The connection between dental and mental health is a two-way street. Just like mental health may affect your capacity or willingness to seek dental care, poor oral hygiene can bring about some mental health issues. Bad breath and altered speech patterns resulting from poor dental health practices can cause social anxiety and issues with self-esteem.
Your teeth significantly contribute to your appearance. According to PR Newswire, 29% of Americans say the first thing they notice about a person is their teeth. Due to various unique circumstances, such as limited access to dental care or treatment anxiety, persons with mental illness are more likely to be affected by dental health issues and the resulting self-image issues.
Inform your dentist of any mental health issues you’re experiencing to break the pattern. We can suggest the best solution for dental anxiety to help you relax. Give Tory Hill Dental a call today to book an appointment!