Our mental health affects almost every aspect of our lives. Indeed, declining mental health can make even the simplest tasks seem like monumental undertakings, including daily oral hygiene practices. If you’re struggling with depression and anxiety, you’re not alone. Our dentist in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, is here to help with comprehensive general dentistry solutions.
Dr. Peter L. Noto and his compassionate team understand the impact mental health makes in your life. Let us help you. We can offer helpful insight, recommend easy accommodations, and provide gentle treatments to help get your oral and mental health back on track. Schedule your appointment at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook online here or at (630) 620-8300 for judgment-free care.
In this post, our dentist in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, explains how depression and anxiety affect your oral health. Our team also gives you tips and tricks for prioritizing oral hygiene, even when you really don’t feel like it.
How Depression Affects Oral Health
Medical experts consider depression a mood disorder. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loss of interest, as well as:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Hypersomnia or insomnia
- Changes in psychomotor function
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
- Constant or recurrent thoughts about mortality
Clearly, depression can sap the joy out of life, making daily activities feel extraordinarily difficult. And, when life feels overwhelming, many of us find ways to make it easier. Unfortunately, one way that we can make life easier is by neglecting or ignoring our oral health and hygiene.
But, this can have devastating effects, as dental plaque and bacteria can quickly grow out of control and lead to:
- Dental decay
- Gum disease
- Tooth infections
- Permanent tooth loss
While medications can help treat the symptoms of depression, they do have a minor drawback – they may cause significant dry mouth. This is problematic because a dry mouth can worsen the effects of neglected oral hygiene.
How Anxiety Affects Oral Health
Anxiety is a disorder that induces feelings of near-constant fear, worry, or stress. These feelings can keep us locked into a fight-or-flight response, forcing daily hygiene practices to take a back seat.
Additionally, anxiety can manifest in physical ways, as with teeth grinding. The unconscious clenching and gnashing of teeth while sleeping is often the body’s response to anxiety and stress. But, it can significantly damage our teeth.
As a result, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) may be the painful outcome of anxiety-induced teeth grinding. This condition can make it much more challenging to chew, yawn, speak, and smile.
How to Take Care of Your Smile…Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
Routine is key. Create reminders on your phone, make a physical checklist, or schedule oral hygiene practices in your calendar. Seeing constant reminders keeps oral hygiene at the front of your mind, making it easier to commit to it.
But, even with constant reminders, you may not feel up to thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth every day. So, follow the ‘something is better than nothing’ rule.
For example, experts recommend brushing for at least two minutes each time we brush. But, that can feel like a lot of time, work, and energy.
So, if two minutes is too long, our dentist in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, recommends brushing for just 45 seconds. Research suggests that 120 seconds of brushing only removes about 26% more plaque than brushing for just 45 seconds. This means that even a little bit of effort is better than none at all.
Talk to Our Dentist in Oakbrook Terrace, IL
You deserve a healthy body, mind, and smile. Ask our team how we can help you address oral health in the face of depression and anxiety at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook. Conveniently reach our dentist in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, online here, or give us a call at (630) 620-8300 for scheduling.