This headline is shocking.
Not brushing your teeth, sure, we all know that it can provide cavities. It can turn to plaque and tartar which will proceed to gum disease and other oral health problems. Forgetting to floss is also a main teeth and gum health issue. But who would’ve thought that depression and anxiety can rot your teeth? Seriously!?
According to the CDC or Centers for Disease Control, 20% of Americans have cavities that are left untreated. This is 1 out of 5 children and adults in the US combined with mild to severe oral health problems. What’s more is that there is a direct link between mental health disorders, specifically depression and anxiety, and bad oral hygiene which can lead to tooth decay and gum diseases. Even prescribed anti-depressants that depressed people take to in order to manage and cope with their disorders is believed to be a cause of cavities.
Why anxious and depressed people have oral health issues.
A study was published in 2004 by the Journal for the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and it states that medicines to treat depression and anxiety can promote a dry mouth. If the mouth is dry, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and then, it is likely that the presence of mouth problems will ensue. This dental condition is referred to as xerostomia. If left untended, it can fast track to severe gum diseases.
It is also proven that depressed people don’t want to take care of themselves, physically and that includes oral health. They don’t brush their teeth for days. Poor oral health is one of the effects of depression and even anxiety. The teeth and gums will not clean itself, you know, and this is a really big problem.
If the person is depressed for a very long time and doesn’t go out of the house, it is also possible that he or she will not take the time to brush and floss. This is the link that experts are talking about. They will neglect personal hygiene when they are experiencing their “down” moments.
There are also other tooth problems brought about by anxiety and depression.
Aside from the deliberate neglect to clean up their teeth and mouth, some people with the disorder can also destroy their teeth by grinding or clenching. The anxious person goes to sleep at night and unconsciously, he or she grinds his or her teeth while sleeping. The enamel of the tooth may wear down because of the act and as they arise in the morning, they experience headaches due to the grinding and clenching. During day time, it is also possible to grind the teeth and the usual consequence is a painful jaw.
It is also believed that an anxious and depressed person can suffer from acid reflux. This acid from the stomach can cause severe damage to one’s oral health by eroding the teeth’s enamel.
What to do with this pressing issue?
- Find the strength to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each session. It is also advisable to use toothpaste with fluoride treatment.
- Flossing is a great way to relieve the teeth of food caught in between. It will also inhibit formation of cavities and bacteria on the tight spaces.
- To prevent dry mouth, drink water as much as you can. Sugarless gum is also advised to eliminate mouth dryness. Remember, dry mouth can cause bacteria in between teeth to grow. It can also encourage mouth odors.
On depression and anxiety…
The bigger issue here is your mental health problem. If you are depressed or have an anxiety problem, you have to seek professional help immediately. BetterHelp is one of the ways to reach out for mental health assistance.