The connection between your dental health and mental health is not something that’s talked about often. Patients typically view their dental health as a separate entity and miss the connection between their dental health and overall physical health, as well as their mental wellbeing.
According to research, the relationship between dental health and mental health is cyclical. Individuals suffering from a mental illness are less likely to take care of their teeth. While poor dental hygiene can also cause mental health issues such as depression and low self-esteem.
The latter is something we see in our office every day. Oftentimes, the patient does not realize how much their dental health is impacting their mental health until they’ve completed treatment and start smiling again.
The Impact of Dental Health on Mental Health
Whether you have a dental handicap or are just unhappy with your smile, there are several ways your dental health can affect your mental health.
1. It can cause low self-esteem
We all want to be confident in the way that we look, but a pimple on your face or a change to your smile can make you self-conscious and dramatically impact self-esteem. For someone with serious dental issues, this feeling can be overwhelming and impact their day-to-day life. It can also cause tension in conversations and poor rapport. However, a confident smile can light up any room and change the way others react to you.
2. It can contribute to social anxiety
When you’re not feeling your best, leaving the house to engage in social activities can cause anxiety. Worrying about what other people will think, and if they notice your dental issues, can be overwhelming and lead to very serious social anxiety. If not addressed, this can also lead to social withdrawal.
3. It can cause or worsen depression
Oftentimes, when I see patients with serious dental issues, they tell me they waited so long to seek treatment because they just didn’t know where to start. Patients often feel embarrassed of their dental condition and are ashamed they have not addressed these needs sooner.
This feeling of hopelessness can be debilitating and cause or worsen depressive symptoms. However, from our point of view we meet the patient where they are and focus on putting one foot in front of the other to make progress toward our goal.
Fix Your Smile, Improve your Mental Health
The good news is that treating your dental health issues can have a positive impact on your mental health. While it may seem overwhelming at first, we can work with you to prioritize your treatment needs. This approach can also help you save money.
When you’re ready to get started, dental treatment can also be a springboard for change in the rest of your life. I often find that following treatment patients will start exercising again and put more time and effort into their relationships. They feel invigorated and tackling their dental health issues gives them the confidence they need to address other areas of their life.
Now, the patient is happier, more confident and living a life that they are proud of. It’s something that we see often and we’re proud to be a part of this positive change.
Ready to make a change in your life? Schedule an appointment with our dentist office in Brandon, FL. We’ll be happy to go over your treatment needs and establish a plan that works for you.