4 Ways Depression Affects Oral Health

4 Ways Depression Can Affect Oral Health
Posted on 01/11/2024
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Depression is a serious health issue that can affect your emotional, physical, and social well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with depression.

One symptom of depression is loss of energy and motivation. This may mean that tasks like brushing your teeth or going to the dentist can feel impossible or even pointless. As a result, some people with depression may see a decline in their oral health.

How does depression affect oral health?

Depression can cause you to neglect your oral health if you aren’t able to motivate yourself to do daily tasks like brushing your teeth and flossing. This neglect can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

Depression can also cause you to seek out unhealthy habits that affect your oral health. Some examples of behaviors and symptoms that may affect your oral health include:

  • Eating or drinking sugary or carb-heavy foods. These foods and drinks are major causes of cavities in teeth.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using recreational drugs.
  • Dental phobia. Many people with depression become anxious about the decline of their oral hygiene and are afraid to go to their regular dental appointments for routine cleanings.
  • Dry mouth from anti-depressant medication. Dryness can increase cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. Make sure you drink plenty of water to prevent this condition from affecting your teeth.

Managing your oral health

If depression is affecting your oral health, there are things you can do to help.

  • Talk to your dentist. Let your dentist know if depression is affecting your ability to care for your teeth. Your dentist may have suggestions for you on how to keep on top of your oral health care routine.
  • Try to eat fruits and vegetables and drink fluoridated water. The fluoride in fluoridated water helps protect the outside surface of your teeth, called the enamel, which can prevent cavities from forming.
  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash, and floss daily. It may be helpful to keep dental supplies in a few different places in your home. This way, your dental supplies will be easy to access, and you’ll have multiple visual reminders to take care of your oral health.

Remember, depression isn’t something you can simply snap yourself out of. It’s a serious medical issue. Seek care and support from health care professionals, including dentists, and try to make daily tasks for taking care of your oral health as easy as possible.