The Link Between Oral Health and Mental Health

Mental health is a rather fluid concept that can be affected by a great number of things, and many of those factors that can affect our mental health are the diseases of other parts of our body. None are more damaging than our oral health. Since we are judged on a daily basis based on our oral health and the appearance of our teeth and our smile, it should come as no surprise that oral health is one of the main causes of anxiety, depression and negative body image and self-representation. Read on to find out more.

Mental health oral health

Mental health affects oral health

One of the main ways that we can tell that someone is in a bad way is by the fact that their teeth are starting to suffer. Your lifestyle leaves an impression on your teeth, and mental illness does the same. Many times the way that psychiatrists can tell that someone’s depression is entering the severe stages is that they neglect usual, routine things, like changing their clothes, tidying up, or brushing their teeth.

Oral health affects mental health

Conversely, if someone already has bad teeth, it is easier for them to slip into depression, according to a study done at the NYU in 2011. People with bad teeth have a more negative self-evaluation, and often feel that they are no good, or not as good as their peers. This can lead to depression, which can lead to further destruction of the bad teeth. Mania can also be fuelled by bad oral health, and it is one of the leading causes of anxiety and self-hate, according to the same study.

Bad teeth: factors to consider

Although some facts can be easily distinguished and isolated as causes or effects, it is very often difficult to pinpoint what is a cause and what is an effect, and even harder to determine which of the myriad of factors that affect us is the one that is causing the negative feelings or mental problems we are experiencing. The same factors that affect mental health are also the ones that affect poor oral health, making the interactions and links even more difficult to understand. Coming from a disorganised household, growing up with substance abuse and the use of drugs and alcohol are all factors that affect both mental and oral health, for example. Poor nutrition is also a factor in both, and this is also an environmental factor that is difficult to deal with scientifically. There is definitely a class element to both mental and oral health, but what that says exactly is yet to be determined.


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