5 Things To Know About Your Oral Health And Depression

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Your oral health is connected to several other areas of your health, including your mental health. If you may be depressed or are at a high risk of experiencing depression, it is important for you to know the following five things about oral health and depression. 

Your Fillings Could Be Exacerbating Your Depression

Amalgam fillings are made of several types of metal bound together by mercury. Unfortunately, mercury is a toxic substance, and there is a small possibility that your fillings can leak mercury as a gas or liquid. One of the symptoms of mercury poisoning is depression. Although most patients with amalgam fillings do not experience mercury poisoning, it is worth considering as a source of depression if you have them.

If you have amalgam fillings and depression, you may want to be tested for mercury poisoning. As your amalgam fillings wear down, you should replace them with composite fillings. 

Chronic Pain Can Increase Symptoms of Depression 

It is common for people who experience chronic pain to become depressed. Oral pain can often become a chronic issue for several issues. You may put off going to the dentist, suffering with pain for longer than necessary. In some cases, it may seem like you have one oral issue after another due to poor hygiene or a genetic disposition for cavities. It can also be difficult to diagnose and treat some types of oral pain. 

It is important to go to your dentist regularly to prevent oral pain from developing. If you suffer from oral pain for an extended period of time, you should be aware that you are at a higher risk for developing depression. 

Smiling Can Elevate Your Mood

Smiling can decrease stress hormones and increase positive hormones, which can help prevent depression. Unfortunately, a recent study showed that more than one-third of Americans are unhappy with their smile. If you are unhappy with your smile, you are less likely to smile as often, which means you are missing out on the positive effects of smiling. 

Your dentist can suggest ways to improve your smile that can increase your confidence and make you want to smile more often. Some options may include teeth whitening, gum reduction, or veneers. 

Your Dentist May Be Able to Detect Symptoms of Depression

Depression often includes symptoms such as a lack of interest in self-care and an increased desire for foods that will increase the production of serotonin, such as carbohydrates. Both of these symptoms can lead to an increase in tooth decay and gum disease. If you suddenly have an increase in oral issues, do not be surprised if your dentist asks about your mental health and makes a referral to a mental health professional. 

Even if you do not have any oral symptoms of depression, your dentist may ask about your mood and mental health on your patient intake form. Since many people visit the dentist more regularly than the doctor, it is important for dentists to screen for other health issues to the best of their ability.

Common Depression Treatments Can Cause Changes in Your Oral Health 

If you are currently being treated for depression, you should be aware of the ways your medication can affect your oral health. One common side-effect of many anti-depressants is dry mouth. Dry mouth can increase your susceptibility to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. You may be able to deal with your dry mouth by drinking more water and using a fluoride mouthwash, but you may need to take medication to increase your saliva flow. 

It is important that you let your dentist know if you think you may be depressed or are being treated for depression, as this may affect your treatment options. For more information about how your oral health can affect your body, visit a general dentistry clinic.