How stress, anxiety, depression can adversely impact your dental health | Health

Anke Neustadt

There are many factors that might be adversely impacting your oral health, from wrong eating habits, inadequate brushing to poor dental hygiene. Mental health has a significant role to play in your dental health. People suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues may be more at risk of developing dental troubles due to various reasons. (Also read: Are you making these mistakes with your kid’s dental health?)

People with dental anxiety may avoid visiting their dentist or undergoing dental procedures. Experts say it may stem from a broader mental health condition, like general anxiety disorder or past negative experiences at a dental practice.

Depressed or anxious people may also make poor food choices or may not be paying attention to nutrition due to which their dental health may suffer.

“Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression can lead to several problems which may lead to consumption of sugary foods or beverages that can cause tooth decay and cavities. Depressed people have poor nutrition, which can affect the surface enamel of the teeth,” says Dr Karishma Jaradi, Head Dental Surgeon- Dentzz Dental.

It is also common for a person with depression to lose interest in daily activities which includes brushing or taking shower.

“Depression can also make you feel tired or unmotivated to even brush or floss your teeth, and lead to smoking, drug abuse or alcoholism, all of which can cause gum disease and oral cancer,” says Dr Jaradi.

According to the British Society of Periodontology, stress is one of the risk factors, when it comes to a connection between mental health and dental issues. Stressed people are more likely to smoke, neglect their oral hygiene routine and miss dental appointments, all of which increases risk of several dental conditions.

“Stress causes bruxism – teeth clenching or grinding leading to dental wear or facial pain. Cortisol, which is the body’s stress hormone, can increase the growth of Porphyromonas Gingivalis. People diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are prone to brushing their teeth repeatedly, which causes abrasion,” says the dental expert.

How medication can affect your dental health

“Even medication associated with the treatment of mental health can cause oral health issues. Antidepressants, along with antipsychotics, are among a number of drugs that are associated with dry mouth, also referred as xerostomia. In fact, salivary flow rates can fall by 58% in individuals who take tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline,” says Dr Jaradi.

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