- Depression can lead to neglect of proper oral hygiene habits, maladaptive behaviors, negative thinking patterns, and poor dietary choices.
- Fluoride treatments are a standard preventive measure that can help strengthen and remineralize teeth.
- Dental crowns, implants, and root canal therapy are used to restore damaged teeth.
- Stress-related teeth grinding can cause significant damage over time if left untreated.
- Improving your dental health can help you maintain good oral hygiene habits and manage symptoms associated with depression.
- Speak with your doctor or dentist to discuss the best treatment plan for you and your oral health needs.
Mental health and physical health are often inextricably linked. This is especially true when it comes to depression and oral health. Studies have shown a correlation between depression and oral health, which means it’s crucial for those who suffer from depression to be aware of the connection between the two. So, what does depression have to do with your teeth? Let’s take a closer look.
Depression Can Impact Oral Hygiene Habits
People who suffer from depression can often struggle with everyday activities such as brushing their teeth or caring for their gums. This can lead to an increased risk of gum disease, cavities, and other dental problems due to improper oral hygiene habits. If left untreated, these conditions can seriously affect oral health.
People who suffer from depression may also engage in maladaptive behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking, which can negatively impact oral health. Smoking, for example, is linked to an increased risk of gum disease, and alcohol consumption can lead to dry mouth, which makes it difficult for saliva to keep teeth clean.
Alcohol consumption can also have a significant impact on oral health. It decreases the amount of saliva in the mouth and increases the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Saliva is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene because it washes away food particles, bacteria, and other debris that cause tooth decay.
Negative Thinking Patterns
Depression often comes with a host of negative thinking patterns that can make it difficult for an individual to take care of their oral health. For instance, someone with depression may feel hopeless or unmotivated when taking care of their teeth, or they may not have the energy required to make trips to the dentist. Over time, this can further exacerbate existing oral health issues and lead to more serious dental problems in the future.
Depression Can Lead To Poor Diet Choices
The emotional impact of depression can also lead one down the path of poor diet choices. People suffering from depression may turn to comfort foods instead of healthier alternatives, which can contribute to an increase in sugar intake—leading directly to a rise in tooth decay over time. Food quality has been shown to affect oral health, so make sure that those who suffer from depression are making healthy dietary choices. Additionally, people struggling with depression may become less active, which can lead to an overall decrease in nutrition and an increase in weight gain—both of which can put extra strain on the body’s overall health, including dental health.
Depression Can Cause Stress-Related Teeth Grinding
Finally, stress-related teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) is another common problem among people living with depression; this unconscious habit can cause significant damage over time if left untreated. Signs that you may be grinding your teeth include heightened sensitivity in your jawline or facial muscles, headaches or earaches after waking up in the morning, worn enamel on the biting surfaces of your teeth, and even broken or chipped teeth.
Common Dental Treatment
Common dental treatments can vary from simple preventive measures to more advanced procedures.
- Fluoride Treatments: Used to strengthen and remineralize teeth, fluoride treatments are a standard preventive measure that can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. These treatments can be applied at home or in-office as a gel, foam, or varnish.
- Implants: Implant dentistry involves fixtures as a permanent restorative solution for missing teeth and is made of titanium posts that replace the roots of lost teeth.
- Dental Crowns: When a tooth becomes significantly damaged, it may need to be crowned for extra protection. Dental crowns are custom-made to fit a patient’s teeth and provide additional strength and support for the damaged tooth.
- Root Canal Therapy: When a tooth has become infected, root canal therapy may be necessary to save it from extraction. This procedure involves removing the infection, cleaning out the inside of the tooth, and filling it with a special material to restore its strength and integrity.
- Extractions: If the damage is too severe, a tooth may need to be extracted to prevent further infection or decay.
It’s clear that there is a direct correlation between mental health issues such as depression and physical health issues such as dental problems—particularly regarding oral hygiene habits, dietary choices, and stress-related teeth grinding. Fortunately, there are steps you can take today towards improving your dental health if you are living with depression. These will help you maintain good oral hygiene habits while also helping manage symptoms associated with your condition.