Depression and Your Smile—Are Your Teeth Stressing You Out?

Many know that stress can cause people to grind their teeth at night but did you know that your teeth can cause stress and other health issues? We recently spoke with Dr. Catrise Austin, a cosmetic dentist in New York better known as “The Queen of Smiles”, who gave us insight on the mental health issues which can be associated to not paying closer attention to our oral health.

What is the strong interaction between oral health and mental health?

When it comes to oral health, we frequently hear about its connection to heart disease, diabetes, and other physical health problems. But we rarely link oral health to depression, anxiety, stress, and overall quality of life which can impact your teeth in many ways.

Gum Disease:

Advanced gum disease known as periodontal disease has been associated with mental health disorders including clinical depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. The key signs and symptoms are bleeding gums, bad breath, redness of gums, tenderness of gums, and loose teeth. As a matter of fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.

Depression can have a negative impact on your immune system. When you are depressed, the depression can suppress your immune system from functioning properly making it harder for your body to fight the bacteria in your mouth and easier for bacteria to breed in your mouth to cause gum disease.

Stress is usually a huge factor that usually comes along with depression and can impact the teeth in several ways. When you are in a depression, the body tends to produce high amounts of the stress hormone called cortisol. Excessive levels of cortisol in turn creates a nice ripe environment for gum disease.

The stress, anxiety, and depression also commonly leads to teeth grinding and clenching. The habits of clenching and grinding your teeth adds extremes amounts of physical force on the supporting fibers and bone that keep the teeth strong and stabile. Over time, clenching and grinding can slowly but surely destroy the supporting bone and fibers causing the teeth to get loose.

Cavities: Along with stress, anxiety, and depression usually comes poor eating habits and poor oral hygiene habits that can affect the health of your teeth. When we are feeling low, we never think to turn to fruits and vegetables. We commonly turn to sugary high carb comfort foods and drinks like alcohol, sodas, chips, and desserts for example. Without proper oral hygiene habits to fight the sugars and acids in your mouth, the mouth becomes a breeding ground for cavities.

Poor oral hygiene and self care habits:

Depression, anxiety, and stress can also affect o