The importance of mind and body synergism is well known. A lesser-known aspect is a relationship between oral health and mental condition. Dental and mental are much more than rhyming words. Poor oral health status may reflect on a person’s confidence and affect his or her ability to deal with social interactions. On the other hand, mental health-related issues show signs and symptoms in the mouth. This article describes some common mental health conditions affecting oral health.
It is common for people with high levels of mental stress or anger management issues to clench their teeth. They can develop habits like Bruxism (involuntary grinding of teeth during sleep) and Bruxomania ( compulsive grinding of teeth when awake).
These para-functional habits (not the natural function of teeth) may cause attrition of teeth, weakening of gums, pain in the joint, and muscles of the jaw.
Eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa (very limited food intake followed by purging) and Bulimia nervosa ( binge eating followed by purging) are seen in people who have an unhealthy obsession with food or weight loss.
Depression and other psychological disorders
People suffering from depression or other psychological disorders may neglect oral hygiene. Inadequate oral hygiene maintenance along with lack of healthy diet commonly seen in these patients can lead to increased chances of dental decay and gum disease.
Some medications which are prescribed for these conditions may cause reduced saliva production as a side effect. The resultant dry mouth and lack of the natural cleansing action of saliva can further increase the chances of tooth decay.
Many people have the habit of chewing on a pen/pencil or biting their nails when they feel anxious. This can cause teeth to chip off.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ( OCD)
OCD can be presented as excessive and vigorous brushing of teeth.
This can cause severe damage to gums and teeth, wearing off the gums and the enamel of teeth.
Dental treatments like night-guard for bruxism, restoration of the chipped or abraded teeth, etc. can take care of the dental symptoms for the time being. But, it is important that the underlying psychological conditions be treated to avoid a recurrence of these issues.