The effect of mental illnesses often manifest in the mouth.
How does Poor Dental Health affect Mental Health?
- Badly maintained teeth, dental decay and “ugly looking” teeth may cause social anxiety. Bad breath is also a contributing factor.
- Patients are conscious to laugh loudly or even speak clearly due to poor dental appearance which exacerbates social anxiety
- Patients of mental illness are 2.8 times more likely to have lost all their teeth; this affects physical appearance, self-esteem, and self-image.
- Also, statistics show that patients with mental illness have a higher rate of tooth decay also affecting appearance and self image.
How does Poor Mental Health affect Dental Health?
- Patients with Depression often show self neglect. This can be identified by a dentist with a sudden change in the patients dental health, with lack of maintenance, poor brushing habits, increased dental disease
- Patients with Aggression and Stress show increased wearing of the teeth, bruxism, aggressive brushing habits and even gingival lacerations
- Patients with eating disorders may show increased erosion of the teeth due to vomiting and an acidic oral environment
- Patients with alcohol and tobacco dependency show typical oral signs
- Many anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs cause increased susceptibility to oral infections
The mouth is a gateway to the entire body and often signs of mental and physiologic trouble is first identified here. It is our responsibility to look out for not just the mouth, but the total well-being of our patients.