Generations of Smiles - May 2022

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Oral Health & Mental Health: A Close Look at a Close Link With famous role models publicly discussing anxiety, depression and other once-taboo struggles, mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves. And as more people open up, I hope they also open wide. Research is finding there is a two-way link between oral health and mental health. It is increasingly clear that good oral hygiene combined1 with appropriate mental health care access is important for a person’s whole-body health. Studies have found mental health disorders such as depression can exacerbate2 oral health issues, and that oral health problems can decrease a person’s self-esteem and increase their depression. People experiencing depression and anxiety, for example, report3 a higher perception of pain from oral health problems, such as burning mouth syndrome. One study4, titled “No Mental Health without Oral Health,” called for a closer collaboration between mental health professionals and dentists, noting that dentists might be the first health care professionals to identify eating disorders and other mental health issues. By staying on top of your dental appointments, getting regular cleanings and keeping up with your daily brushing and flossing routine, you not only benefit your teeth, but your entire wellbeing — physical and mental. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, please talk to your doctor and seek help. And as you consider your mental health care, don’t forget to also keep seeing your dentist. Because when it comes to mental health, it is important that we open up — and open wide. Until next time,

Carolyn Ghazal, DDS Smile Generation®-Trusted Dentist