Feeling Depressed? Your Teeth May be Too
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the US. Recent research shows that people experiencing depression often also experience a decline in oral health. At Prescott Dentistry, we understand that when you are struggling with depression, it can be easy to overlook oral health. Yet keeping up with good daily oral hygiene is an important factor in maintaining your overall health, including mental health.
Depression and Oral Health
Keeping up with daily brushing and flossing is often hard enough for many of us. But when you’re dealing with depression, it’s even more difficult to maintain your oral care routine or visit your dentist.
Research also shows a connection between depression and decreased saliva production, which can lead to dry mouth. Saliva is a first-line defense against cavity-causing bacteria, so this condition increases the risk of tooth decay, as well as gum disease.
In addition, when you are experiencing depression, you may be more likely to develop coping mechanisms that could be detrimental to your oral health, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating junk food, or using drugs.
Many antidepressants can cause oral health side effects, including dry mouth, teeth grinding (bruxism) and trouble swallowing. Be sure to let your dentist know if you are taking any medications so that we can help mitigate the impact on your oral health.
Oral Care is Self-Care
As we mentioned, oral care is often one of the first self-care activities to slide when you’re depressed—but the good news is that it’s one of the easiest to accomplish if you make a commitment to yourself to include it as part of a daily self-care routine. Prioritizing healthy oral habits, especially at the start of your day, can be an empowering way to take care of yourself.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Avoid carbs and sugars as much as possible. Not only are they bad for your teeth, they also cause spikes in your blood sugar, which can worsen symptoms of depression. Fruits, crunchy vegetables, and nuts are healthy snacks that can help regulate your blood sugar and your mood, as well as improve the health of your teeth.
- Hydrate. Not only does drinking water improve your mood, it is also good for your dental health. It helps fight tooth decay and gum disease by keeping the mouth moist throughout the day, promoting saliva production, washing away food debris that sticks to your teeth after eating, and protecting your enamel. It also improves bad breath and prevents staining of your teeth!
- Establish a routine. Keeping a routine is helpful for your spirit, and also for ensuring that you remember to brush and floss each day. Create a schedule for self-care each day that includes oral care—for example, when you wake up, drink a glass of water, brush and floss, eat breakfast, and then go for a walk. Brushing and flossing at roughly the same time each morning and night is helpful. Encourage yourself to stay on track by setting reminders or alarms on your phone or by asking a friend or family member to text you everyday for support. While they may seem small, these steps can go a long way in improving your mental health.
Give Us a Call
Get help for your depression. Speak to your physician and ask for a referral to a therapist or mental health professional. And when it comes to your dental health, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, coming to the dental office for regular cleanings and exams is the best way to keep your mouth healthy and is an important part of overall self-care. Call Prescott Dentistry to set up an appointment with one of our compassionate, holistic dentists. Empower yourself by caring for your smile today.