Mouth Matters: What You Should Know About Your Oral Health and Mental Well-being

Oral health and mental health are connected.

It’s easy to look at different areas of your health, whether mental, emotional, physical, or dental, as separate. However, the reality isn’t anywhere near that simple. Your oral health and mental well-being are closely linked, each having an impact on the other. Understanding that connection can help you improve your health in both areas.

The connection between oral health and mental health.

What does a healthy smile have to do with mental health? Each of these connections could have a major impact on your overall well-being, so pay close attention to your mental and oral health.

Stress and Oral Health

Stress and oral health are connected in a few key ways. One of the most important factors to consider is the link between stress and bruxism. That’s the subconscious grinding or clenching of your teeth, typically during sleep.

That grinding wears away enamel over time, leaving your teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and tooth decay. You could even find yourself dealing with cracks and chips. A nightguard can protect your teeth immediately, but doesn’t address underlying stress.

Stress also affects your immune system, opening the door to gum disease. Bacteria in your mouth can infect the gums and spread to surrounding tissue, eventually leading to serious infection and potential tooth loss. Coping with stress in healthy ways can strengthen your immune system, providing lasting protection.

Taking steps to manage your stress can promote better oral health. This could be as simple as daily exercise or trying activities like yoga and meditation. Identifying sources of stress, such as a hectic schedule, and remedying them is also a great way to tackle the underlying issue.

Anxiety and Dental Care

Patients are rarely enthusiastic about visiting their dentist, but they understand the importance of routine dental care and keep up with it. However, dental anxiety is a much more serious problem for some patients. It can hold them back from getting the care they need, with potentially disastrous long-term oral health effects.

Missing out on routine dental appointments means that issues, like tooth decay and gum disease can progress without being noticed. By the time significant symptoms appear, you could find yourself in need of a tooth extraction or other invasive treatment. This prospect only compounds the issue of dental anxiety.

If you’re dealing with dental anxiety, mention your concerns to your dentist. They’ll be happy to work through them with you. Simply discussing the concerns can help make them better, and accommodations may be available to make your treatment more comfortable. Having someone accompany you to your appointment can also help.

Depression and Self-Care

Depression is an incredibly serious condition that can impact all aspects of health and well-being. Many people facing depression find themselves falling behind on basic self-care, the effects of which can then further contribute to their condition.

If you’re dealing with depression, you may not have the energy to carry out your daily oral hygiene routine. Even if you keep up with brushing, you may not be doing so often enough, long enough, or properly, and flossing is even more likely to be skipped over.

Without this routine care, plaque and tartar will start to take hold of your teeth. This accelerates both tooth decay and gum disease. A professional cleaning can address plaque buildup, but depression can make the process of booking and following through on a dentist appointment challenging.

If you notice signs of depression, the best thing you can do is reach out to a mental health professional to find out whether various treatment options could help improve your symptoms.

Holistic Approaches to Wellness

When it comes to oral health and mental well-being, a holistic approach that addresses the body and self as a whole can have a variety of benefits. Instead of isolating aspects of health, focus on how diet, exercise, self-care, and mindfulness can all come together to benefit every area.

Implementing healthy practices that take care of your body, mind, and smile will have incredible benefits over the years. While your individual needs may vary, routine visits with a general practitioner, mental health specialist, and dentist can give you an exceptional foundation for overall wellness.

Get proactive on your oral health and mental well-being.

No aspect of your health is isolated from the others, so taking care of your overall well-being is key. Addressing areas such as stress, anxiety, and depression can have a lasting impact on your whole-body health. Similarly, focusing on your oral health has benefits far beyond a brighter smile.

You can get proactive about oral health by keeping up with routine visits to your family dentist in Maryville, Missouri. Compass Dental Group is here with full-service dentistry for the whole family. Book your next routine appointment today, or reach out about any dental concerns you might have.