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Mental Health Awareness Month: The Critical Link Between Mental Health and Oral Health

Bassett Creek Dental – The Critical Link Between Mental Health and Oral Health

May marks National Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight a lesser-discussed aspect of wellness: the connection between mental health and oral health. As a group of knowledgeable dentists, we’ve witnessed firsthand how mental health can significantly impact dental health, influencing everything from daily hygiene routines to more severe dental conditions. Our goal is to highlight the importance of mental health help and shed light on these less talked about issues, encouraging a more integrated approach to health that considers both mental and oral well-being.

Understanding the Impact of Mental Health on Oral Hygiene

Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and more severe conditions like schizophrenia can dramatically affect an individual’s ability to maintain regular hygiene, including oral hygiene.

How Mental Health Can Affect Oral Health

Depression and Anxiety

These conditions can lead to neglect of personal hygiene, including oral care. People suffering from severe depression or anxiety may skip regular brushing and flossing due to a lack of energy or motivation.

Eating Disorders 

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa directly impact oral health. The acidic nature of vomit in bulimia cases can erode tooth enamel and lead to an increased risk of cavities. Both disorders can result in severe nutritional deficiencies that weaken oral tissues and bones, compounding dental problems. Raising awareness and providing support for eating disorders is crucial for both mental and oral health.


High stress can lead to habits such as teeth grinding (bruxism) and clenching, which can cause tooth wear and damage and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. Over time, this can wear down tooth enamel, lead to fractures, and cause chronic jaw pain and TMJ disorders. Addressing stress through therapeutic techniques and mindfulness can help alleviate these symptoms, highlighting the importance of mental health management in preserving oral health.

Medication Side Effects

Many medications prescribed for mental health conditions, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, have side effects such as dry mouth, which significantly increases the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Patients and healthcare providers need to be aware of these potential side effects and work together to mitigate them, possibly by adjusting medication types or dosages where safe and appropriate.

Substance Use Disorders

Alcohol and drug use can lead to neglect of oral hygiene. Additionally, substances like tobacco and methamphetamine directly harm oral tissues and teeth.

Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders

These may impair one’s ability to perform daily tasks, including oral hygiene practices. Furthermore, delusions or hallucinations can lead individuals to neglect health care or develop fears about dental treatment.

Cognitive Impairments

Mental health disorders that affect cognitive functioning, such as dementia, can make it difficult for individuals to remember to maintain oral hygiene or to manage dental appointments.

Bassett Creek Dental – Mental Health

Integrating Dental Care with Mental Health Services

This Mental Health Awareness Month, let us commit to understanding and addressing the intricate connections between mental and oral health. By fostering open conversations, advocating for comprehensive care, and encouraging regular dental checkups, we can ensure that our approach to health truly encompasses both the mind and the body. Let’s work together to break down the barriers between dental and mental health care, promoting holistic well-being for all.

Never be embarrassed to seek help. Let’s all work together to destigmatize mental health disorders.

Remember, if you or someone else feels like harming themselves or others, immediately call 911. Help is also readily available if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts by calling 988.