Dr. William Nerestant

Oral Hygiene and Your Mental Health

The connection between mental health and overall health is under-researched in the medical community, and this is true of the connection between mental health and oral health as well. Healthcare researchers agree there is a connection between oral health and mental health, but the exact connection isn’t a simple one.
How Poor Oral Hygiene Affects Mental Health
Research cannot yet define all the ways poor oral hygiene affects mental health, but there is no doubt that the realities of poor oral hygiene—bad breath, mouth pain, damaged and/or missing teeth—have a direct impact on our self-esteem and our self-images. Poor self-esteem and negative self-images contribute to and exacerbate depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
How Poor Mental Health Affects Oral Hygiene
The ways in which oral health affects mental health, and vice versa, is cyclical in nature, and poor mental health can also affect oral health in many ways. For instance, those suffering from mental issues like depression often neglect their hygiene and oral care, which leads to poor oral health issues like gingivitis, gum disease, and tooth loss. Then, the poor oral health further exacerbates the underlying mental issues, creating a cycle that is bad for oral health, mental health, and overall health.
Similarly, many side effects of mental health conditions can be detrimental to oral health; for instance, those suffering bulimia damage their tooth enamel with stomach acids, and those with Bipolar affective disorder can brush too intensely, damaging gums. Additionally, many medications for treating mental health issues can also affect oral health, such as through side effects like dry mouth or increasing susceptibility to infections.
Complete overall health is achieved when all aspects of your health—from oral health to mental health—are taken care of. Speak to your dentist, doctor, or mental health professional if you have concerns.
This column is sponsored by Midtown Dental.   
BIO: Dr. William Nerestant received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Detroit/Mercy School of Dentistry in Michigan. After serving and being recognized for his meritorious service in the Air Force as an officer in the Dental Corps, he currently serves patients at Midtown Dental in Lakeland. For more information, visit mymidtowndental.com or call (863) 226-0987.   

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