At Dental Smiles at Johns Creek, we believe that every aspect of your body is connected. Your dental health affects your overall health, and vice-versa.
You might think dental health is important, so your smile stays healthy, white, and beautiful. But your dental health goes much further than a pretty smile. It can go as far as preserving your overall health.
Studies show that gum disease increases your likelihood of heart disease, alzheimer’s, and blood glucose regulation. There’s even a link between oral health problems and mental illness.
Today, we’re going to talk about a subject that American society usually tip toes around: mental health. Specifically, we want to talk about different mental health problems, their link to dental health, and safeguarding against dental and mental illnesses.
Anxiety and Dental Health Problems
Oftentimes, anxiety and dental health problems go hand in hand. Do you know someone who is afraid of the dentist? Or, perhaps, you suffer from a fear of the dentist office yourself. Dental anxiety is incredibly common. About 36% of patients say they don’t go to the dentist, because they’re afraid.
There are many reasons why patients might be afraid of the dentist. For one, they could be afraid of pain. They could also be worried about judgement or embarrassment, especially if their dental health is already in poor form.
When you skip routine dental appointments, it puts you at a higher risk for periodontal disease. Some patients are so scared of the dentist, they’d rather go through the pain and suffering of gum disease, than get their dental health problems diagnosed and treated.
Even if you’re not scared of the dentist, but you still suffer from general anxiety disorder, it could be wreaking havoc on your dental health. When your body is under mental duress, it releases a hormone called “cortisol.” Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone.
When it’s released in large quantities into your system, it can be detrimental to your body’s ability to fight bacteria and disease. Thus, excess cortisol production can lead to accelerated periodontal disease.
Beyond the dental health realm, excess cortisol production is also linked to disease and illness in lower socio-economic communities. Oftentimes, people in low income communities live in constant stress over financial and living conditions. Stress offhandedly leads to illness, which leads to more stress. It’s a vicious cycle.
Other Mental Illnesses and Dental Health
A common symptom of mental illness is a person’s inability to maintain proper hygiene. When you’re suffering from a brain disorder, like schizophrenia, depression, or Alzheimer’s, the last thing on your mind is brushing your teeth.
A lot of patients with severe mental illnesses don’t even know where their next meal is coming from, let alone showering or clean clothes.
If someone is already suffering from poor dental health, before being diagnosed with a severe mental illness, it can exacerbate the underlying problems. For instance, gum disease, yellow teeth, missing teeth, or a crooked smile can contribute to a person’s low self-esteem, which can lead to more severe depression, self-loathing, or social anxiety.
In this instance, it’s hard to tell if the poor dental health is contributing to the mental illness or vice-versa. Whatever the cause might be, it’s easy to see how physical and mental health are connected.
Stay On Top of Wellness
When it comes to taking care of your teeth, it’s important to stay on top of your health as a holistic component. If you or someone you love is getting stressed, anxious, or depressed, remember to put personal hygiene at the front and center of your life.
There’s a lot of truth in the saying “if you look good, you feel good.” But most of all, make sure that whoever is suffering from the mental illness also seeks professional from a licensed physician. You never know the severity of someone’s mental illness. Even if their illness isn’t severe, treatment of a mental illness is easier at its onset.
And remember, brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly will not only brighten your smiles, but it will also lower inflammation in your teeth and gums, which will improve your overall health. A beautiful smile can go a long way in improving a person’s health and well-being.