Mental Health & Dental Health
Your smile can tell a story without you ever needing to say a single word. Do you know
the connection between your mental health and your dental health? There are several ways
your mental health can impact your dental health, particularly if you’re struggling with
depression, anxiety, or another serious mental health condition. The health of your teeth can
also impact your mental wellness and overall well-being.
Learning more about the connection can help you to better understand your next steps if
you’re struggling with your mental health or if you’ve neglected your dental health.
Dental hygiene and your mental health
Depression is a serious and common mental illness that can impact many areas of your
life and your physical health. Those who struggle with depression may find that it’s more of a
challenge to do even the most routine parts of their day. This could include eating healthy
foods, staying hydrated, cleaning their homes, speaking often with family and friends, and even
self-care steps that include taking a shower or brushing and flossing. Losing interest in things
that once brought enjoyment, such as social activities and favorite hobbies, can also become a
concern for those struggling with mental wellness.
You know just how important it is to brush your teeth, floss, use mouthwash, and generally
take care of your oral health. But if you’re struggling with some of the other symptoms of
depression, caring for your teeth and gums may not be a priority for you. As unhealthy as this is
for your teeth and gums, it’s quite common for those with depression and other mental health
concerns to neglect their dental wellness.
The important thing is that when you begin to get therapy and other treatment to address your
mental wellness, you also start the process of working on your physical and oral health when
The emotional impact of stained, damaged, missing or lost teeth
Neglecting the health of your teeth and gums can lead to a range of concerns that may
include stains or discoloration, cavities and other damage, and even teeth that have fallen out
or need to be extracted. You may find yourself in some physical discomfort due to the pain that
can come with damage to your teeth and gums. But you may also find that you feel much more
of an emotional impact when you aren’t confident in your smile.
This lack of confidence can also take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Which, of
course, can make it more of a challenge to work on improving your mental wellness. While
restoring your smile to one that is healthy and bright may not be the cure-all for mental health
concerns, it can certainly help your sense of well-being if you feel confident when speaking and
smiling. It may not happen overnight, particularly if you need a significant amount of work, but
every step forward with your dental wellness is a positive step forward.
Fear of the dentist and anxiety
Whether you’ve experienced trauma at the dentist or you struggle with anxiety about one or
more of the processes related to seeing a dentist, it’s important to know that it’s not
uncommon to have a hard time just making that first appointment.
How can you get past your fear and anxiety about going to the dentist? It’s so important to
maintain the health of your teeth and gums. We’ve got a few tips that may help you.
- Speak to your mental health professionals about your anxiety and stress surrounding dentist visits. They may be able to offer you a few solutions, such as breathing exercises.
- Speak to your dental professionals. Your dentist, hygienists, and others who will care for the health of your teeth and gums have worked with anxious and fearful patients before. You may just be surprised at how much empathy and patience they have to help you feel comfortable during treatment.
- Consider sedation options that may work for you. When making your appointment, mention that you have anxiety about your visit. There are several options that have helped countless other patients.
- Don’t go alone. Having a family member or trusted friend with you can often be soothing for anxious patients.
A dental office's sights, sounds, and experiences can certainly set off fears and anxiety. But with the right approach and support, they don’t need to keep you from getting the treatment
that you need.
We all struggle, don’t feel ashamed
Many people who have struggled to keep up with their oral health needs due to mental
health concerns may feel a sense of shame about the condition of their teeth. While it’s
understandable that you feel ashamed, it’s important to remember that your dentist and other
dental professionals understand and do not judge. It’s not their job to judge you, your mental
health, or even the current condition of your teeth and mouth.
Their job and focus are to help return your teeth and mouth to good health with a treatment
plan that addresses your needs in the best way possible. We all struggle at one point or
another. Getting the right type of help and the right level of support can make the return to
good mental, physical, and dental health a smoother path.
Next steps to improving your dental health
There are several paths to improving your dental health. The one that you choose will
depend on the health of your teeth and gums and also on your ability to cope with your
appointments. We’ve got a few suggestions to get you started.
Continue to work with your therapist and other mental health specialists so that you can improve your mental health.
Speak to your therapist about coping strategies when you feel high stress and anxiety levels. Whether that includes mindfulness, music, or something else.
Make the first appointment with your dentist. Even if it’s for an examination and x-rays to get an idea of the health of your teeth and gums right now. That first step is key to regaining your confidence in your smile.
Work closely with your team of dental professionals to figure out a treatment plan. Even if that plan begins with a professional dental cleaning. Small steps can sometimes get you further along than trying to make those giant leaps into root canal therapy or an extraction.
Communicate openly and often with your dental professionals so that they know your comfort levels every step of the way.
It may take several months, several appointments, and plenty of communication and
support along the way, but you can reverse any concerns you face with your teeth and gum
health. If you need an extraction, bridges, implants, and dentures can help to restore your
smile. From cavities to full dentures, there is a solution to help get you feeling confident in your
smile. Make an appointment or contact us today!