Dental Health & Mental Health - Where’s The Connection?

It is a common trap to fall into to separate our oral health from our general health. We see our doctors for anything related to our health apart from our teeth, and going to the dentist for checkups can feel like a chore. However, what many people don’t realise is how much their teeth can reveal about their physical and mental health. How we feel about our smiles can greatly affect us, but there are lots of accessible fixes to anxiety surrounding dental aesthetics, with one of them being Invisalign Clapham. 

Dental health affecting mental health 
It is very common for people to minimise or suppress just how much their feelings can affect them in their daily lives. Surely, you can appreciate the moments in life when you’ve dismissed your own feelings and told yourself to “just get on with it”, but these thought patterns and behaviours can have a negative impact on your mental health over time. An example of this could be the relationship you have with your smile. If a person is unhappy with the look of their teeth, they can engage in negative internal dialogue over their appearance and begin to suffer from poor self-esteem, which, in turn, can lead to social anxiety. If left untreated, these conditions can slowly progress into serious mood disorders, which take longer to heal. Working with your dentist to find a solution, such as Invisalign, to your dental insecurities could help avoid this. 

Mental health affecting dental health 
It’s very common for those suffering from mood disorders and high levels of anxiety to begin to neglect basic levels of self-care, and self-care in itself is a crucial way in which humans take care of themselves and maintain good levels of cognitive function. At its very basic level, self-care includes proper personal hygiene, sufficient sleep and maintaining a healthy diet. When people become depressed, it is common for even the smallest tasks to become difficult; exhaustion and hopelessness take over and make people feel physically unable to engage in even small tasks. As such, it’s very common for people to begin to neglect their oral health routine. 

What can your dentist tell from the health of your teeth and gums? 
Signs your dentist will look out for are mainly linked to discovering any sudden changes to your dental or gum health. Questions a dentist might ask are: 

Have you begun to show signs of plaque and tartar buildup? If this is the case, and if previously you’ve had very clean teeth during checkups, they could be wondering what’s changed. 

Why have you begun to neglect your oral health routine? Are you struggling mentally? 
Have you begun to show signs of grinding your teeth? Teeth grinding has long been associated with stress and anxiety; in most cases, people don’t even consciously grind their teeth, which is why it’s so important to attend regular checkups. Your dentist will be able to show you the signs of wear from grinding and open the conversation as to why you’ve started. 

Has your enamel started wearing down? Enamel wear could also be linked to a series of mental health conditions. Those suffering from anxiety have a tendency to groid their teeth. Those with eating disorders often begin to lose enamel, and similarly, patients suffering from OCD symptoms may have begun to brush excessively, thus causing wear.