To many of us, this might seem a little weird but mental health is linked to oral health and vice versa. We all know that both the mind and body have a serious relationship. Any problem with the mind reflects on the body and any problem with the body can have an effect on mental health. Research has found that the people with mental illnesses tend to have bad oral health.
Research Results on Mind and Oral Health Connection
A lot of research has been done in this field. Researchers have found that adults suffering from serious mental illnesses are more likely to have poor oral health. According to the data, 60% of the people with mental health issues also have dull oral health.
It has been found that people with mental illness also suffer from oral issues like gross caries, periodontal disease, decayed teeth, dry mouth etc. Additionally, due to medications, such people may also suffer from other diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Studies also suggest that people with serious mental sicknesses are three times more likely to get their teeth removed.
Oral Health Status and Link to Psychiatric Ailments
- Schizophrenia and oral health: Research shows that patients with schizophrenia and related mental health issues tend to have poor oral hygiene. They are more likely to neglect oral health.
- Effects linked to Face Eating Disorders: Ailments like Bulimia can lead to enamel erosion while others like anorexia are linked to a reduction in calcium levels.
- Bipolar and related disorders: People with such issues tend to brush too vigorously and may damage their tooth enamel.
- Depression: Patients suffering from depression or related disorders are more likely to have poor oral health due to negligence.
- Substance-related problems: Medications can lead to problems like dry mouth or xerostomia and severe decay which is a result of decreased salivary flow.
- Dental Anxiety: A large chunk people suffer from dental anxiety due to which they refrain from visiting their dentists. Some kids may even develop phobias.
Mental Illness Drugs and Their Effect on Oral Health
People with mental health issues are given drugs that can have side effects on the body. Among these side effects, dry mouth is the most common one. This can result in gum disease, oral infection, salivary gland inflammation, dental caries, etc.
Another such disease is medication-induced dyskinesia is caused by anti-psychotic drugs. In this condition, muscles tend to contract and can affect the jaw, throat, and tongue. It not only results in poor oral health but may also cause difficulty in breathing.
Other Barriers to Oral Health
- Those people who don’t have much understanding about the need of oral hygiene are more likely to have poor oral health.
- Unhealthy eating habits and poor lifestyle choices including drug use, smoking, binge drinking, etc. can also be a cause of bad oral health.
- Fear and anxiety of dental visits may also be a reason.
Taking Care of Oral Health in People with Mental Health Issues
The impact of mental wellbeing on oral health and vice versa is proven. A number of ways can be adopted to make oral health better in mental health patients. Some of these are:
- Mental health patients may be given better access to oral care and should be educated about dental hygiene.
- Next, they should be motivated to inculcate good dental habits and exercise them on a daily
- Further, healthy eating should be promoted in such people.
- Also, proper and regular lubrication should be done in order to avoid dry mouth symptoms.
- They should be informed about the harmful effects of smoking, drinking and drug use and should be inspired to adopt a better lifestyle.
- Dentists should be educated about oral health’s link to mental health and they should help the patient feel more comfortable while receiving dental treatment.
The Bottom Line
Oral health and mental health are closely related. Neglecting either of them can affect the other and put in more problem. Therefore, it is important to make small lifestyle changes in order to have good oral health while having mental health issues. With not much effort, one can maintain proper oral health and see an improvement in mental health.
Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working at the Smile Clinic, he has witnessed how dental implants can improve people’s smile and boost their self-confidence. If you are interested in improving your smile or need a dental procedure contact Shen Chao to learn more by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or get more information at www.joshuahongdds.com.