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Understanding The Connection Between Mental And Oral Health

Dental patients with mental health conditions need quality treatment, significantly as their mental health can impact how they care for teeth and gums. As mental health services become more emphasized within the healthcare industry, many studies have begun looking into how mental health affects those with oral health issues and how oral diseases can be inadvertently caused by having mental health issues. With both of these topics in mind, the one thing that connects them is a lack of treatment. Both aspects must be treated to help patients recover and heal, and today, we’re looking at the impact that oral and mental health has on one another.

The Mental and Oral Health Connection

People with mental health conditions and dental issues have been rising over the past decade. The reasons for the decline in both physical and mental health depend on the person. Still, conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder can influence how they care for and pay attention to their teeth. Having a lack of financial resources for treatment, improper or lack of medications, and inadequate support structures can influence these effects.

For dentists, proper dental care alongside their patient’s mental health needs to be addressed because both of these concerns can present vast consequences if not treated. Studies from the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry cite multiple studies regarding this connection and state that many of the participants within these studies showed signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and lost teeth. While multiple factors can also play into the development of these diseases, the inherent difficulty for many of these patients is also influenced by mental health conditions.

Discussing Your Mental Health With Your Dentist

If you’ve been having problems maintaining a good oral routine, it’s essential to speak with your dentist about your concerns. Your dentist will help you by understanding your position and allowing you to speak about your struggles. Your dentist will also help you during and after your appointment by taking extra steps to make sure you have good oral care, including:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques during appointments, such as deep breathing exercises and other awareness techniques, can help patients with anxiety symptoms or dental phobias have a better experience.
  • Improved Communication: Dentists during these sessions should focus on communicating with their patients as clearly as possible and with a better understanding of mental illness, listen to their patients, provide recommendations, and offer compassion as a form of support.
  • Informed Awareness: Having the resources to tackle both mental health and oral health takes being aware of innovations in dental care, and dentists in these positions should offer active support by providing new resources.
  • Long Term Treatment Plans: For those with life-long health conditions, designing long-term plans for dental treatment can help assure the patient that they’re receiving good oral care.

If you would like to see how your dentist can help you receive treatment, then the best way to start is by arranging an appointment.

Maureen Karl, DDS, FAGD
As a graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 2004, Dr. Maureen Karl continues to hone her craft through continuing education. Dental patients throughout the Granbury, TX area know they can rely on our practice for skilled dental care using the latest practices.