When most people think about their oral health, their teeth are the first thing to come to mind—but you shouldn’t neglect your gums! Your gums are actually just as important as your teeth when it comes to keeping your smile healthy and attractive, but unfortunately, gum disease is quite a widespread problem. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly half of all adults over the age of 30 have some form of it. That said, this condition can also have some damaging effects on your mental well-being in addition to the inside of your mouth. Keep reading to learn more from your periodontist about this unique connection.
Understanding the Link Between Gum Disease and Mental Health
Gum disease is perhaps one of the most prevalent and serious conditions that impact oral health. It’s mainly the result of infection due to the accumulation of bacteria caused by plaque and tartar. When bacteria remain on the teeth for extended periods, they form a film called plaque that eventually hardens into tartar. This tartar can infiltrate below your gumline, where it becomes virtually impossible to remove without professional assistance.
Needless to say, poor oral hygiene is often the biggest contributor to gum disease—but even though the condition starts in your mouth, it has the potential to affect other parts of your body, including even your mental wellness. According to a study from the University of Birmingham, patients with gum disease have a 37% increased risk of mental illness, including problems like depression and anxiety. Sadly, these issues can also create a negative feedback loop that makes it even more difficult to maintain oral hygiene, which in turn will exacerbate various oral health issues.
Tips for Improving Your Oral and Mental Health
Even though gum disease can have some pretty serious consequences, it’s also among the most preventable of oral health issues! And by taking great care of your smile and safeguarding it from gum disease, your mental health will correspondingly flourish! Here are some tips to help you improve both your oral and mental health:
- Consider your oral hygiene habits – If you don’t already, brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, floss daily and use an antibacterial mouthwash. At-home oral care is paramount in the prevention of gum disease!
- Visit your dentist regularly – Your dentist is your greatest ally in the ongoing fight against gum disease, so seeing them twice a year will allow them to monitor your gums for concerning symptoms.
- Eat a healthy diet – Consuming a healthy diet will greatly influence the health of your teeth and gums, not to mention, your mental wellness!
- Practice stress reduction activities – If you’re noticing that you have worn enamel or that you grind your teeth, it might be the result of stress or anxiety. In any case, finding ways of alleviating this stress will ensure that your smile doesn’t suffer as a result.
By maintaining great oral health, you can vastly reduce your risk for gum disease and in turn, lower your chances of experiencing mental health issues. In any case, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist if you’re noticing any concerning symptoms; they’ll be able to provide treatment that’s certain to get your smile back on track and your mentality soaring.
About the Practice
Under the leadership of Dr. Geoff B. Haradon and Dr. Karl P. Lackler, the team at Rocky Mountain Periodontal Specialists, L.L.C. is thrilled to provide an exceptional level of care for patients and families in the Colorado Springs area. They offer a wide range of preventive, cosmetic, and restorative treatments, including periodontal therapy to counter the ravaging effects of gum disease! If you have any questions about the article or would like to arrange a visit, feel free to contact the practice online or over the phone for further assistance: (719) 574-4867.