The connection between oral health and mental health isn’t yet fully understood, but we know it exists. People with mental health issues are less likely to care for their physical health, and when physical health is impaired, it affects emotional and mental health. Additionally, poor physical health and especially oral health can be harmful to a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Depression is a common mental health problem and is associated with alcohol and tobacco abuse, both of which are habits that can cause dental disease. People suffering from depression will often neglect their oral hygiene, increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Side-effects of antidepressants and mood stabilisers can increase the likelihood of dry mouth and susceptibility to oral bacterial infections.
Conversely, poor dental health can increase social anxiety especially if it affects speech or causes bad breath. People with mental illnesses are nearly 3 times as likely to have lost all their teeth, affecting their physical image and possibly their self-esteem. The rates of tooth decay and missing teeth are higher for people with mental illnesses.
These are all reasons why we take a detailed medical history from all our patients, including a list of all medications. The information allows us to carefully tailor treatment plans so patients can achieve optimum oral health, protecting physical and mental health.