Mental Health & Dentistry

Psychiatric illnesses negatively affect dental health if proper preventive measures are not taken. According to the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, people suffering from severe mental illness are 2.7 times more likely to lose their teeth than the general population. Although, patients who are not considered severely mentally ill may still have anxious reactions when it comes to dentistry—so much so that they may not go to the dentist at all.

Negative Consequences

Unfortunately, when it comes to anxiety, reactions are cyclical. Someone with anxiety may avoid the dentist, putting them at an increased risk for painful cavities and/or gum disease. The pain then causes the patient to become even more anxious and uncomfortable. This is one reason why it is important to get a handle on mental health conditions that prevent you from making positive healthcare choices. The following conditions can have negative dental health consequences if they are unmanaged:

  • Eating Disorders: People with eating disorders like bulimia often suffer from enamel erosion due to the frequency of stomach acid interacting with the teeth.
  • Depression: It is not uncommon to see patients suffering from depression to neglect their oral hygiene. In addition, those with depression and substance use disorders may further contribute to poor dental health.
  • Bipolar Disorders: In a manic state, those with bipolar disorder may frantically brush their teeth and become too vigilant when it comes to their hygiene—causing enamel wear and lacerations to the gums.
  • Other Psychiatric Illnesses: Those that take medications to manage their psychiatric symptoms may simultaneously experience side effects related to their teeth. For example, some psychotropic medications can cause dry mouth—whereby increasing the risk for gum disease and cavities.

Prevention

In order to prevent caries, gum disease and other dental conditions due to mental illness, it would be wise to get the primary condition under control. After symptoms have stabilized, the following steps should be taken for further assurance:

  • Solidify positive dental hygiene behaviors and continue them daily
  • Visit the dentist every six months (or as recommended by your dentist or hygienist) for an exam and cleaning
  • Take medications consistently to prevent a relapse of psychiatric symptoms
  • Ask your provider about side effects of any medications that you take—some cause dry mouth which negatively affects your oral health

Advanced DDS is a premiere dental care practice in Garden City, NY that provides dentistry for patients with all healthcare needs. We offer IV sedation dentistry as well as general anesthesia dentistry if needed. Schedule your dental appointment at 516-825-1100 today.

Dentistry

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