• Poor dental hygiene, specifically gum disease, can negatively affect your mental health.
• Gum disease has been linked to stress levels and low self-esteem.
• Recent studies suggest a connection between gum disease and depression due to inflammation.
• Taking proper care of oral health is important for managing gum disease and its effects on mental health.
Taking good care of your teeth and gums is important. But did you know there’s a strong connection between oral health and mental well-being? Poor dental hygiene, specifically gum disease, can negatively affect your mental health. Here are the effects of gum disease and how it can impact your mental health.
Gum Disease and Mental Health
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is caused by a buildup of plaque in the mouth. Plaque builds up when bacteria from food particles mix with saliva. If this plaque isn’t removed regularly, it leads to inflammation, gingivitis (redness or swelling of the gums), and eventually periodontal disease, which can cause tooth loss. Gum disease has been linked to several physical health issues, such as stroke, heart attack, and diabetes, but it can also impact your mental health. Here are ways how gum disease affects your mental health:
Stress and Anxiety
Gum disease has also been linked to stress levels in individuals. This connection is likely because gum disease causes inflammation in the body which increases cortisol levels—a hormone associated with stress—in turn, increases stress levels further. Additionally, untreated gum diseases can be painful, which could lead to more stress in individuals who are already struggling with mental health issues.
Having a healthy smile is important for self-confidence and feeling good about yourself. If you have gum disease, it can take away your self-esteem because of its visible effects on your teeth and gums. This loss of self-esteem can lead to low self-worth and feelings of worthlessness.
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can cause social isolation, which is when you distance yourself from family and friends. Gum disease can make it harder for you to be around other people, furthering your social isolation.
Poor oral hygiene has been linked to cognitive decline in adults and decreased problem-solving abilities. Although the exact cause is unknown, research has shown that poor oral hygiene can lead to inflammation in the brain, which may be a contributing factor.
The Connection Between Gum Disease & Depression
Recent studies have shown a connection between gum disease and depression. Depression has been linked to chronic inflammation in the body. Since gum disease is caused by inflammation in the mouth, this could be one reason for an association between the two conditions. Additionally, people who suffer from depression often lack the motivation to take care of themselves, or their oral hygiene habits may suffer due to decreased focus or energy levels. This could increase plaque buildup, leading to periodontal problems such as gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Ways to Manage Gum Disease & Mental Health
Although it’s unclear if the risk of depression is caused by gum disease or vice versa, it’s important to take proper care of your oral health. Here are some tips for managing gum disease and its effects on mental health:
- Visit a dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
- Practice good dental hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing twice daily.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary and acidic foods that can damage teeth.
- Cut back on smoking or drinking, as these can worsen gum disease.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Try taking extra care of your mouth if you suffer from depression or anxiety.
It’s also important that you take the time to see a mental health professional if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. With the help of your doctor, you can get proper treatment to manage your mental health and keep your oral health in check.
Reversing the Oral Damage Caused by Gum Disease
If you have already been diagnosed with gum disease, treatments are available to help. Your dentist can recommend medications to reduce inflammation in the gums and professional cleanings to remove tartar from your teeth. The following procedure may also be recommended:
- Tooth Implant: Dental implants are titanium posts that replace damaged or missing teeth. The implant is inserted into the jawbone and can last for years with proper care. Having a tooth implant in place helps to restore your smile, improve chewing, and protect your mouth from further damage.
- Gum Graft: This procedure involves taking a piece of healthy gum tissue from your mouth and placing it over the damaged area. The graft helps protect the exposed root, reduce pain, and improve the appearance of your smile.
By taking the time to care for your oral health, you can prevent gum disease and its effects on your mental well-being. When in doubt, always consult a qualified dentist or mental health professional for more information about managing gum disease and its effect on your overall health. You and your doctor can devise a plan that works for you.