Many who suffer from mental health conditions experience other symptoms besides helplessness and sadness, including exhaustion, aches and pains.
With depression often bearing such physical symptoms, it’s perhaps little surprise then that a recent study discovered that young adults who identify depressive symptoms are more likely to experience oral health diseases.
The study, featured in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, assessed the mental and oral health of a sample of over 500 people from birth to 30 years old. Its results found that young depressed adults are around twenty per cent more likely to suffer severe periodontitis (advanced gum disease).
A link between depression and gum disease?
While many sufferers report feeling unable to even tend to basic self-care practices, such as brushing their teeth, this recent study posits a link between poor mental health and our ability to stave off inflammation, a key sign of gum disease.
But there are many more reasons why people with anxiety and depression may struggle with their dental health. According to Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation:
“Dental phobia for example, is often linked to those with anxiety. It means dental visits become less regular and the chance to spot and treat diseases early becomes increasingly difficult.
“Depression can also lead to eating disorders which can affect the health of the teeth. Consistent and effective brushing actions also become harder, while being on medication for depression may also have a negative effect on the mouth and its ability to produce saliva.”
Oral health affects more than just your mouth
While this is only a small cohort study, it does pose interesting insight into how our mental health might affect the health of our body. And with around one in four people identifying as suffering from depression or anxiety, it should be a key concern for dentists and patients alike when trying to identify dental health risks.
At Number 18 Dental, we can provide tailored dental advice and treatment in a welcoming, comfortable environment. We are well practised treating those with dental anxiety, so do get in touch to speak to our friendly dental team in confidence to find out how we can help you.