Anxiety and Oral Health

Posted: June 11, 2020 By: Comment: 0

It’s been studied and proven that, sometimes, emotional stress and anxiety can be a cause of oral health problems. Is it the anxiety that causes your mouth to have problems? Or could it be the way your anxiety is treated? Here’s what you need to know about the role anxiety could be playing on your oral health. 

Understanding Stress and Anxiety

We’ve all felt stress whether it be for work or at home, but for some people who experience high levels of stress for longer periods of time, anxiety can be negatively affecting their health. Healthline defines stress as any demand placed on your brain or physical body. People can feel stressed when they’re facing strict deadlines at work, life changes at home, and more. On the other hand, anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, or unease. It can be a reaction to stress, they say, or it can happen in those who are unable to identify significant stressors in their lives.

Symptoms of stress and anxiety can include physical and psychological symptoms, including: 

  • Stomach problems
  • Tight muscles
  • Headaches
  • Trouble breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent urination
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue 
  • Panic
  • Nervousness
  • Anger
  • And more 

Mental Health and Oral Health 

Though it may not seem like the two are linked together, they are. Dental News reports that issues such as stress and anxiety can impact your mouth, citing that almost two-thirds of people diagnosed with depression reported experiencing a toothache, while half of all clinically depressed patients surveyed rated the condition of their teeth as fair or poor. Additionally, they mention, there is also a fairly strong link between gum disease and poor mental health. 

With that being said, individuals who might suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression need to be extra-diligent in taking care of their mouths. 

So, why do these mental health conditions cause poor dental hygiene? Well, the most common cause is due to the mental drain they can place on people. For instance, those with anxiety and stress might be so worried and concerned about something else, that it is difficult for them to follow their normal dental hygiene routines. Their diets can also come into play here too, along with medications they might be taking to manage their anxieties. 

Dental Anxiety

Another way anxiety affects dental care is in those who fear the dentist. Researchers with the Journal of Dental Hygiene have found that anywhere between 50-80% of adults in the United States have dental anxiety to some extent. For some patients, the fear could be minimal, however it can be debilitating in some. It’s also been shown that 20% of dentally anxious patients don’t see a dentist on a regular basis, with up to 15% of anxious patients forgoing dental altogether. 

Dental Anxiety Options

While many dental visits are non-invasive, like cleanings and comprehensive exams, they typically don’t require sedation. However, if you are someone who avoids the dentist altogether because of your dental anxiety, talk with our team about your options for dental anesthesia. We want you to feel safe and at ease while here in our office, and the most important thing is that you receive dental care to keep your mouth healthy. If you avoid the dentist, you could be missing minor problems early on that can cause you great pain in the future. You have the ability to choose the anesthesia you want, no matter the type of procedure. Our options include:

  • Oral sedation – a prescribed sedative you will take about 30 minutes before your appointment time. These can help you feel calm during your visit or procedure. Oftentimes, these will allow you to stay awake through your procedure, though you are likely to not remember the dental work being done. 
  • Laughing gas – named after its ability to give you a happy feeling, this is a good option for those with dental anxiety. When you breathe in this gas, you will receive light sedation and feel relaxed during your visit. 
  • IV sedation – this is not commonly used for minor procedures, but rather for work that involves use of heavier equipment. If you don’t want to be awake at all during your appointment for a procedure, you can request the use of IV sedation. 

We never want you to feel afraid while in our chairs. Working with you to make sure you feel relaxed, we will make sure to take care of your dental problems and get your mouth healthy again in a quick and efficient manner.

How to Best Care for Your Teeth with Anxiety

Our best recommendation to keep your teeth healthy if you’re suffering from stress of anxiety is to try your best to stick to a dental hygiene routine. Try to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, floss once each day, and use a mouthwash to make sure you’re fighting off plaque and bacteria to the best of your ability. 

Call Dr. Ania

To further learn about how to care for your mouth when you’re feeling anxious, or how to visit the dentist even if you have a dental phobia, call Dr. Ania today: (303)-872-9940! We want you to be healthy and feel safe, and will provide you with the tools you need to keep that smile healthy even when you’re stressed. 

Dr. Ania Mohelicki
AUTHOR

Dr. Ania Mohelicki

All stories by: Dr. Ania Mohelicki