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Posted:
08/22/14

Oral Health & Mental Health: How One Affects the Other

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Good dental health contributes positively to quality of life, self-esteem, and general wellness. People with mental illness are often less likely to make dental health a priority and, inversely, those with poor dental health may be more likely to suffer from depression and other poor quality of life decisions like smoking and drug use. There are a lot of reasons mental health may contribute to overall dental health since maintaining dental hygiene has to be a conscious choice.

 

An increased risk for dental disease and a reduced emphasis on oral hygiene can be due to a variety of factors. Lifestyle choices, habits, costs, fear, stigmas, and negative past experiences with dentists can all contribute to neglect of oral health. Physical and mental capacity to care for teeth and gums also plays a part here. Still other factors include: lack of knowledge about positive oral health, homelessness, poor awareness of personal oral hygiene, side effects of medication, and drug use.

 

Engaging in Better Oral Care

 

 

Improving access to oral care and education about daily oral hygiene is the best way to improve oral health among people with substance abuse problems, distrust of dentists, or mental health problems. Mental and dental health are inextricably tied together since physical wellbeing is often linked to mental wellbeing and vice versa. For those with mental health problems, promoting and helping to ensure good oral hygiene is especially important since mental illness can often prevent regular oral hygiene.

 

Self-esteem beyond the scope of diagnosed mental illness also factors into overall dental health. Substance abuse and overall lack of care can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease over time, and these problems often originate from poor self image, depression, trauma, and other emotional and psychological problems. Other oral disorders, trauma, and side effects of certain medication can also contribute to teeth and gum problems.

 

Healthy Teeth & Self-Image

 

Oral health has a big impact of self-image. If you have good teeth, you are likely to have a more positive self-image and, possibly, make lifestyle choices in line with keeping a healthy smile. The positive mental reinforcement of healthy teeth and gums can have a positive effect on mental health in terms of general well being and aesthetic appearances. A more positive self-image and healthy lifestyle choices can have an impact on your oral health, and having healthy teeth and gums may just have a positive impact on your overall mental health as well.

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