Depression and Teeth: The Surprising Connection You Need To Know

Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Depression and Teeth: The Surprising Connection You Need To Know

Today, many studies reveal the link between dental health and overall health. Research also shows a link between overall health and mental health. But is there an additional link to be found between depression and your teeth?

There is. Positive oral health can enhance mental and overall health, while poor oral health can exacerbate mental issues. And certain mental conditions can also cause oral health issues.

At Penn Dental Family Practice (PDFP), we provide education, awareness, and treatments to help our patients better understand the connection between oral health and mental health. Read more below about the interconnectedness of positive oral health and mental health, and why it’s important to maintain routine dental visits and optimal dental care—especially during times of stress or illness.

Exploring the Relationship Between Overall Health, Mental Health, and Oral Health

A young woman at the dentist’s office with her hand to her mouth listens to the dentist talk about depression and teeth.Studies have found that patients with mental health issues are less likely to take proper care of their physical health. Alternately, those with impaired physical health may neglect their emotional and mental health. In these scenarios, the body can become deprived of the nutrition, activity, and healthy habits needed to promote positive physical and mental health. An individual’s self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth are also affected.

Additionally, depression and teeth also have a relationship.

Can Stress Cause Cavities?

Two Penn Family Dental Practice dentists speak to a patient about the connection between mental health and oral health.Mental illnesses have been found to lead to poor dental health:

  • Depression is associated with higher abuse of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, which may cause tooth erosion and decay.
  • Depression can cause self-neglect, which often results in poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and consequential tooth decay.
  • Bipolar affective disorder often causes overbrushing that may damage gums and cause dental abrasion, mucosal lacerations, or gingival lacerations.
  • Bipolar patients treated with lithium have a higher rate of xerostomia and stomatitis.
  • Acids from vomiting make patients with eating disorders more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Side effects of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and mood stabilizer drugs may include a higher susceptibility to oral bacterial infections.

Can a Tooth Infection Cause Depression?

Poor dental health can lead to mental health issues:

  • Poor dental health affects speech, which can cause significant social anxiety. Likewise, bad breath can exacerbate social anxiety.
  • Patients with mental illness are 2.8 times more likely to have lost all their teeth, affecting physical appearance, self-esteem, and self-image.
  • Patients with mental illness have higher statistical rates of tooth decay and missing teeth, which impacts physical appearance and self-image.

Helping Patients Prevent Mental Health and Oral Health Problems

A young man smiles after visiting the dentist and discussing the connection between mental health and oral health. At PDFP, we know that taking care of your teeth is part of a critical trifecta that includes your mental and overall health.

That is why we’re committed to prioritizing oral hygiene, safety, and our patients’ overall health when you visit. We abide by the latest dentistry guidelines recommended by the ADA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to protect our patients and staff.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while and would like additional guidance to help select the right practice, please use our complimentary comparison chart: “The Evidence You Need To Pick The Right Dentist.” Then, if you would like to schedule an appointment or ask any questions, call us at 215-898-PDFP (7337).

When it comes to depression and teeth, at PDFP, you can relax, knowing regular cleanings and exams will help provide you with a foundation for positive oral health. And by coming to see us, you’ve also taken a critical step in protecting your mental and overall health.