If you suffer with mental health, then the chances are your oral and dental health have declined as a result. Research has shown that there are a number of mental health issues in which dental health and hygiene is often neglected, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bi-polar disorder, OCD and psychosis.
Mental illness means different things to different people, but the universal element that most mental illnesses share is that simple tasks can just become too difficult and focus is placed in other areas of life, rather than self-care.
Here at EvoDental, we pride ourselves on the treatment journey we provide for our EvoSolution – smile in a day, advanced alternative to all-on-four full mouth dental implants and we understand that due consideration needs to be given to potential patients who have, or do, suffer with some kind of mental illness.
Let’s take a look at what this could mean for you.
Impact on oral health
Mental health can have a significant impact on oral health for a number of reasons:
- habit forming – developing coping strategies and habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, can have a detrimental effect on dental hygiene
- missed dental appointments
- loss of appetite, leading to poor nutrition
- difficulty performing daily tasks such as flossing and brushing teeth
- dry mouth
- low energy
- lack of motivation
- brushing teeth so hard and fast which can result in loss of enamel
- drinking and eating beverages and food with high sugar content
Any of these behaviours can result in gum disease, periodontal disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss.
A phobia is ‘an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to, something’ and as the name suggests, dental phobia can leave people absolutely terrified to visit a dentist through fear of:
- numbing injections not working
- side-effects of anaesthetic, should this be required
- the loss, or losing, of control
- the loss of personal space
Of course, dental phobia is very real for people who don’t have mental illness, but for those who do, it can be significantly magnified and therefore plays a large part in the decline of dental hygiene.
And with severe mental illnesses, affective disorders and eating disorders being associated with dental disease, statistics show that these sufferers are 2.7 times more likely to lose all of their teeth, compared to those who don’t suffer mental illness.
There are a number of medications which are used to treat mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and bi-polar, which, coupled with poor dental hygiene due to self-care neglect, contribute to tooth decay.
Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety medication can all contribute to tooth decay, as well as causing xerostomia – dry mouth – another contributor.
Those with mental illness can often find themselves in a catch-22 situation as the symptoms of their illness, coupled with the side effects of the medication they take for said illness, can contribute to poor dental and oral health, which is hard to reverse.
Impact of Dental implants on mental health
If you have reached a point where tooth decay and gum disease has left you feeling very low, there is some good news because, if you are someone who suffers with a mental illness, this doesn’t necessarily preclude you from having dental implants.
All-on-four dental implants – artificial teeth surgically placed on an extension of a metal post secured to your jaw – give the impression of a mouthful of perfectly straight, aligned and non-decaying teeth. And this can be massive for someone with mental illness, especially those who have been left suffering from low self-esteem and those who struggle in social or public settings.
Of course, there are certain mental illnesses for which dental implants would not be a good course of action for, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), body dysmorphic disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), so it is always worth checking it out.
But with approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing some form of mental health problem each year, and 1 in 6 reporting a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, in any given week, dental implants can significantly improve your quality of life, giving you your smile and self-confidence back.
If you are unsure as to whether you would be an ideal candidate for dental implants because of your mental illness, arrange a FREE consultation with our dentist here at EvoDental, who will go through everything with you.