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Yes, mental health problems can lead to oral health problems.
Evidence from the University of Queensland shows people with severe mental illnesses have a three-time increased risk of losing their teeth compared to the general population. This could be because many people struggle with self-care when they have anxiety or depression.
The study examined 2,784 people over 20 years who were diagnosed with mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. People in the study were 3.4 times more likely to lose their teeth and 6.2 times more likely to have decay, need fillings, or have missing teeth.1
People with anxiety are less likely to visit the dentist because of fear or stress. Therefore, their dental treatment goes untreated and more oral health issues arise.
In another study, researchers reviewed data related to psychological disorders and comorbid physical illnesses. They determined that early interventions should include:
Additionally, researchers from Deakin University in Australia studying depressed subjects found 61 percent reported having mouth pain in the past year. More than half (57.4 percent) considered their teeth to be in fair or poor condition.3
Anxiety can trigger symptoms that affect your dental health. For example, people with anxiety might experience:
Depression also affects oral health and dental care. It makes people more likely to neglect dental health maintenance. With depression, everyday tasks like flossing or brushing teeth might feel challenging.
People with depression also sometimes lose interest in taking care of themselves. This can lead to a loss of motivation to perform simple self-care tasks. Poor nutrition, another result of poor self-care practices, increases the risk of dental health problems.
Additionally, depression medication has negative effects on oral health. Symptoms of some antidepressants include:
Anxiety and depression are not the only mental illnesses that affect dental health. Others include:
Anxiety and depression are two common mental health issues that often go hand-in-hand.
Anxiety manifests as excessive worry or fear. Depression causes ongoing feelings of hopelessness.
Both conditions are also linked to poor oral health issues. It’s common for someone with anxiety and/or depression to develop problems like tooth decay and gum disease because they neglect their dental health.
An important part of handling mental health issues is learning to care for your health, despite the daily changes that accompany depression and anxiety.
There are different types of anxiety disorders. All of them can affect oral health.
Some anxiety disorders, like social anxiety disorder (social phobia), are linked to specific circumstances, such as being in public or having to socialize. Others are types of phobias that occur when a specific trigger causes anxiety. The most common type is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
GAD occurs when someone experiences a bout of excessive worry most days for at least 6 months. Often, there is no specific trigger.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
There is no one specific cause of GAD. However, some causes might include:
Depression is a mood disorder. It causes feelings of sadness and hopelessness. There are different types of depression, including:
There is no one specific cause of depression. However, some of the things that increase a person’s risk of developing depression include:
Symptoms of depression include:
People with anxiety and depression can do many things to maintain their dental health, including:
Several organizations provide support and education for people struggling with anxiety and/or depression.
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