Relation between your dental and mental health

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 11, 2024

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 11, 2024

Relation between mental health & dental healthWorld Mental Health Day was first celebrated in the year 1992 due to an initiative by the World Federation for Mental Health. We celebrate World Mental Health Day for the purpose of spreading awareness about mental health to combat the social stigma surrounding mental problems. 

In this era, the incidence of stress and stress-related mental issues has been rising every day. People these days may or may not recognize the importance of mental health and continue to ignore serious mental issues such as depression and anxiety.

Mental issues and disorders affect millions of people all over the world and have disastrous effects on the body. They affect our hormones, immune system, organ functioning and yes, even our teeth and gums. 

How stress not only affects your brain but even your dental health!

Stress hormones affect each and every part of your body. These stress hormones act directly or indirectly on our body causing symptoms in the near future. 

COLD SORES – Cold sores in the mouth, gum problems, wearing down of the tooth enamel are just some of the effects on oral health due to mental stress. Cold sores are nothing but white spots in your mouth that are harmless but may be painful to the touch, which disappear in 1 or 2 weeks. Your dentist will recommend an oral gel that you can apply to relieve you from the discomfort of these sores. 

ATTRITION – Due to stress, a lot of people have a habit of grinding their teeth against each other without realizing it. This grinding habit, otherwise known as bruxism, may go unnoticed because some people tend to grind their teeth while asleep. This causes wearing down of the outer layer of the tooth and can also cause problems in the jaw joint or your bite. Another cause of attrition is the nail-biting habit due to stress which people are not aware of.

EROSION – Anxiety is associated with acid reflux or acid peptic disease which causes the release of stomach acids into the mouth. These acids are harmful to your teeth and result in wearing of the teeth over time which can cause sensitivity.

XEROSTOMIA (Dry mouth)  – Dry mouth or a decreased flow of the saliva in your mouth can be an indicator of poor mental health. The reduced salivary flow in the mouth can further increase your risk of getting cavities in your teeth.

LICHEN PLANUS – It’s an inflammatory condition that affects the mucous membrane of your oral cavity. Lacy white/red, swollen and raised patches are seen on cheeks, gums, and lips. They cause discomfort, burning and are sensitive to hot/spicy food.

How to reduce stress during dental treatment?

Since the last few decades, our lifestyle has affected us to the extent that people commonly suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression. These mental effects can cause negative effects on health – and oral health is no exception. 

Stress can be controlled easily when it is regarding dental treatment. If you are particularly anxious or have trouble relaxing before any dental procedure, your dentist may prescribe certain anti-anxiety medications for that purpose.

Other than that, dental practices are evolving to make dental procedures less invasive and more comfortable for the patient. There is a lot of difference between today’s oral surgeries and those from one or two decades back. 

Here are a few ways to reduce the stress associated with dental problems:

  • Try to take it easy with the hectic lifestyle for a little while. Sometimes, a hectic schedule can cause you to neglect your oral health which can only increase your dental issues. 
  • Consult your dentist for the treatment options most suitable for you. Do not neglect symptoms such as pain, swelling and difficulty in chewing. 
  • If you think you might have teeth grinding habit, ask your dentist about getting a night guard. You have to wear this appliance at night so that the stress on your jaws can be minimized. 
  • Avoid tobacco products and alcohol to minimize your existing oral problems. 
  • Due to stress some patients may have a habit of clenching their teeth during the day and night. This tenses the facial muscles and causes pain while opening and closing the mouth. Hence, stress management should be taken seriously.

How to relax during your daily routine for better mental health?

Nature has designed our body in such a way so that our body is able to deal with stress for a short period of time. Today’s life is such that many of us face anxiety, depression and are victims of procrastination and overthinking to no limits.

Letting go of the things that stress us is something we all have to learn and find out how things work best for us. Everyone is aware of stress and it’s effects on our body but no one actually is aware of how to reduce the levels of stress in day to day life. 

You can simply start with the conscious relaxation of your mind even when you’re at work. Closing your eyes and practicing deep breathing between your working hours for 5-10mins. This helps to reduce your stress hormones and gives you the capacity to deal with challenging situations during the day. 

Exercise and Yoga for Mental health

Yoga and exercisingExercising not only helps keep your body fit but also your mind. For some working out in the gym proves a good stress-buster while some may not want to or cannot workout find yoga to be more effective.

Yoga works at the mind level. It works at the root cause of stress. Yoga teaches you how to manage your lifestyle and lead a healthy life. 

Stress levels in the workplace are rising with 6 in 10 workers and hence many of the medical yoga institutes are coming up with OFFICE YOGA wherein people are made to practice a few exercises every hour and also are taught how they can manage their stress body, emotions, thoughts and actions and have a healthy and positive mind. 

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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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