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Unhealthy Mouth, Unhealthy Mind: Exploring the Links Between Oral and Mental Health

Unhealthy Mouth, Unhealthy Mind: Exploring the Links Between Oral and Mental Health

jigsaw pieces of a mind

While most people already understand that good overall health starts with their oral hygiene, the link between bad oral hygiene and mental health is not something that is often explored. The reality is that there is a two-way association between the health of a person’s teeth and gums and their mental health, which often results in a cyclical pattern of issues. In this article, we will look at three ways that poor oral hygiene and dental health can affect a person’s mental health and how a person can break the cycle.

Crooked Teeth Can Increase Social Anxiety

Having straight, white teeth is something that most people aspire to but not many people understand how much of an impact not having a beautiful smile has on the mental health of people who already suffer from some kind of social anxiety. For many self-conscious people, having teeth that are discoloured, misaligned, or even just crooked can have a huge impact on their self-esteem
and can increase their social anxiety, which can result in several other mental health issues such as eating disorders and more. The good news is that there are ways to remedy misaligned teeth and even discolouration without the need for expensive orthodontist visits.

Companies like Straight My Teeth, who specialise in offering affordable tooth straightening solutions with their range of invisible aligners, offer people with social anxiety a way to fix their smile from the comfort of their own home. Many of the packages offered by Straight My Teeth can be ordered online, which means that clients with social anxiety don’t need to deal with the stress of a dentist visit to get the smile they have always wanted.

Depression Can be Exacerbated by Poor Oral Hygiene

Depression is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide and while bad dental health may not be a direct cause of depression, studies have shown that there is a definite link between the two. On a cellular level, increased stress levels associated with depression have been shown to increase the human body’s production of the hormone cortisol, with elevated levels of this hormone resulting in a weakened immune system. Having a weaker immune system means that a person is more susceptible to things like gum disease, which has a knock-on effect on their self- esteem and can exacerbate other symptoms of depression.

Bad Oral Health Is Linked to Memory Loss, Dementia

While dental experts have known for a while that bad oral health can be linked to dementia, it has only been in the last 10 years that researchers have been able to pinpoint the specific link between the two. According to research coming out of the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry, a specific type of gum disease has been shown to play a role in contributing to symptoms of dementia, including failing memory and confusion. Fortunately, by following good dental hygiene practices such as daily brushing and flossing, people can prevent the spread of this bacteria, identified as Poryphyromonas gingivalis, and decrease their chances of suffering from dementia.

By forming good oral health habits such as brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing after meals to remove excess food that can cause bacterial infections and gum disease, and having regular checkups at the dentist to catch issues before they become a major problem, people can ensure that their mental health is not affected by their dental health and ultimately ensure a healthier lifestyle.

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