How Oral Hygiene and Depression Are Linked

Oral Hygiene and Depression

By now, you know good oral hygiene is important when it comes to having a healthy, beautiful smile, but did you know the benefits of oral health may be much more far-reaching? Research has shown that there are several links between taking care of your mouth and taking care of your body. Oral health has actually even been linked to your mental health in many studies. Physical health is not the only factor affected by good oral hygiene and positive oral health. Periodontal disease has also been associated with some mental health disorders, particularly clinical depression. Depression has one of the highest rates of diagnosis when it comes to mental health disorders in the United States today, generally affecting as many as 14.8 million American adults. Depression can be a debilitating illness, affecting your ability to perform daily tasks and negatively impacting your quality of life.

Patients that have depression are less likely to notice they have a serious need to see the dentist and consequently may not visit the dentist regularly. At Foothill Dental Care in Livermore, we want to help you maintain that beautiful smile while helping you maintain good health, so we do everything within our means to provide excellent service during your visit. If you are interested in getting a dental cleaning, call our Livermore office at  (925) 961-5484 to schedule an appointment today.

Common signs of depression:

  • Decreased interest or pleasure in activities
  • A significant change in weight or appetite
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Decreased concentration or indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death

(this list was compiled from information provided by

There are significant links between oral health, depression, and quality of life. The link between the two may be multi-faceted. First, depression can lead to teeth clenching and grinding, which can, in turn, increase the risk of periodontal disease since this behavior generally leads to weaker enamel. Depression can suppress the immune system, which may make it hard for your body to fight off bacteria in the mouth that can cause infection and can also result in poor eating habits that impact the health of your whole body, including your teeth and gums. At the same time, the symptoms related to depression like sadness, fatigue and, in some cases, lack of motivation might affect how well you care for your teeth. Often, the medications given to people with depression can dry out the mouth, which means you produce less saliva, which protects your teeth and gums. People with chronically dry mouths tend to have higher incidences of periodontal disease.

Dentists will often inquire about your medical health history to ensure you are receiving the oral care you need the most because there is such a compelling link between oral and mental illness. Your dentist will oftentimes be one of the first to realize you are suffering from a mental illness like clinical depression, especially since there is usually a sudden change to your mouth health, like tooth decay, teeth grinding, or gum disease.

A healthy smile does so much more than improve your appearance and boost your self-confidence. The healthy habits you use to maintain the health of your teeth might also benefit your body and mind in a lot of different ways. To learn more about how you can keep your mouth and teeth in lasting condition, contact Foothill Dental Care in Livermore today at  (925) 961-5484 .