mental health and oral health

mental and dental health: five important ways these two worlds collide

mental and dental health: five important ways these two worlds collide

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! While oral care might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about mental health, we’re here to remind you that the two are uniquely intertwined.

The truth is that your mental health and oral health overlap in so many ways, so we’re kicking off May by diving into five important ways these two directly impact each other.

1: the two-way street between mental health and oral health

There’s a two-way street between your mental health and oral health, meaning they feed off each other for better or worse. Let’s explore a few examples to paint a picture of what we mean.

  • dental anxiety: starting off with a very direct example...those with generalized anxiety, health anxiety, and dental phobias are far less likely to go to the dentist regularly. This can lead to oral health complications down the line, allowing cavities and gum disease to progress without intervention. For oral health conditions like these, early detection is crucial! The good news is that there are so many things you can do to ease dental anxiety, from meditation to medication and everything in between.
  • gum disease: did you know that research reveals those with gum disease run a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression? This portrays the (sometimes vicious) two-way street we mentioned, anxiety and depression can keep you from going to the dentist and increase your risk for gum disease, while gum disease can increase your risk for developing anxiety and depression.
  • mental health loss of appetite: anxiety and depression are commonly linked to a loss of appetite. This can lead to under-eating, dehydration, poor nutritional decisions, cravings for processed foods, and more. All of these things can drastically impact your oral health, as you might not be getting the nutrients your mouth needs to fight off bacteria, remineralize your enamel, and beyond.
  • decreased energy: many people with mental health conditions report reduced energy and fatigue, which can get in the way of exercise and other self-care routines. Believe it or not, exercise is important for your dental health, as research shows regular exercise is linked to reduced prevalence of gum disease. On top of this, low energy and fatigue might convince you to skip your oral care routine, which can lead to poor oral health down the line.

These are just a few examples of how mental health and oral health intertwine, but we hope they help you understand and address potentially harmful patterns in yourself or your loved ones.

2: your smile and self-esteem

A study of 1,140 adolescents revealed that dissatisfaction with your smile strongly predicts low self-esteem. It also indicates that disliking your smile can greatly impact your behavior, encouraging you to isolate and avoid social settings. As humans, social connection is a vital human need, so much so that some mental health professionals compare social interaction to essential vitamins.

If you’re feeling insecure about your smile, we want to remind you that you’re not alone. We hope Mental Health Awareness Month gives you the space and opportunity to connect with people who are going through similar struggles.

3: dental and mental sensitivity

Experts estimate that 1 in 8 adults in the US experience dental sensitivity, and if you’re one of those “1,” you know just how disruptive a sensitive tooth can be. It can keep you from eating the foods you love, staying hydrated, enjoying a cold (or hot) treat with your friends, and so much more. Sensitive teeth are enough to keep you from socializing, which can lead to more isolation and mental distress.

If you’re experiencing sensitivity, we encourage you to visit your dentist, so they can see how far it has progressed. As a daily defense against sensitivity, try adding our sensitive hydroxyapatite toothpaste to your oral care routine. It gives your enamel a daily dose of remineralization to strengthen it against decay and plug the holes and imperfections causing your sensitivity.

4: dry mouth and mental health medications

Many antidepressant and antipsychotic medications can cause dry mouth. If you’re taking medication for your mental health (or another condition), we encourage you to check for dry mouth as a side effect.

If you know it’s a side effect, you can go the extra mile to reduce symptoms of dry mouth. Some of our favorite ways include brushing daily with Davids hydroxyapatite toothpaste (the best dry mouth toothpaste, made with xylitol and vegetable glycerin) and eating a dry-mouth-friendly diet.

5: bacterial balance in your oral microbiome

Millions and billions of bacteria exist in your mouth and gut, and your body is always striving to maintain a healthy balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria that exist in these microbiomes. The bacteria balance in your mouth directly affects the balance in your gut (as your mouth is the window to your gut), giving it a crucial role in your overall gut health.

Now, there’s an overwhelming amount of research that reveals your gut health (which is heavily impacted by your oral health) directly impacts your mental health and oral health. In other words, all three of these systems are so closely intertwined! The organisms in your gut play a central role in nutrient absorption, hormone balance, and so much more. The mouth-gut-brain system can impact the existence (and severity) of mental health much so that scientists have identified specific strains of bacteria in the gut that are linked to mental health conditions such as depression.

All that to say, maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in your mouth and gut can have immense positive impacts on your mental health and oral health. Let’s finish with a few of our favorite ways to achieve and maintain that healthy balance!

nurture your mental health and oral health with Davids

As a holistic oral care company, we’re honored to help you find ways to care for your dental, mental, and overall health...all at once. Here’s an overview of our favorite holistic oral care routine.

  • floss daily with our xylitol-infused expanding dental floss
  • brush daily with Davids (hydroxyapatite toothpaste for those with sensitivity)
  • tongue scrape using our stainless steel tongue scraper
  • use a gentle mouthwash, which won’t completely wipe out your good bacteria
    • keep your eyes and ears peeled for a new product launch from us!

In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, we also invite you to go the extra mile to prioritize a mouth-friendly diet, carve out time for your favorite form of exercise, stay hydrated, and nurture meaningful connections with the people around you. Your mental health and oral health will thank you. ♡

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