How depression affects oral health

How Depression Affects Oral Health

October 6, 2017

Depression is a mood disorder that affects over 16 million Americans each year. It’s a complex mental illness that can be caused by many factors. These factors include changes in brain chemistry, family history of depression, and external factors like a traumatic life experience. 

Depression is more than just feeling “sad.” It greatly impacts people’s lives. It can cause people to have trouble sleeping or concentrating. It can also cause them to lose interest in everyday activities, like taking care of their oral health.

Losing interest in oral health may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Nearly half (47%) of American adults have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is a chronic inflammation and infection of your gum tissue. When left untreated, it can lead to chronic bad breath (halitosis) and permanent tooth loss.

If someone with gum disease experiences depression, it can be harmful for their oral and overall health. In fact, 2 out of 3 people with depression report having oral health problems. 

Additionally, many anti-depressants can have oral health side effects. The most common are dry mouth, trouble swallowing, and teeth grinding (bruxism). 

The relationship between depression and oral health is complex. But, one thing is certain, everyone deserves a healthy smile. 

Good oral care includes:

  • Brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day 
  • Flossing every day
  • Staying on top of regular dental check-ups

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with depression, let your dentist know. They’ll help make sure your teeth stay healthy so you can focus on your mental health.

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Mental Health America. Depression. 
University of Washington School of Dentistry. Oral Health Fact Sheet for Dental Professionals: Adults with Depression. 
Deakin University. Deakin University researchers have found a connection between poor dental health and depression.