Depression is a mental health condition that can affect people in various ways. In fact, depression can significantly affect one’s dental hygiene, as it can make brushing and flossing seem like a chore. This can lead to declining oral health and a range of dental issues, including tooth loss. Our general dentistry clinic in Dallas, TX, is here to help when you need us most.
Don’t let depression rob you of your oral health. Get judgment-free care with the compassionate team at Lakewood Dental Group. Patients can easily reach our Dallas, TX, dentists at (214) 827-1885 to get the care they deserve.
Oftentimes, depression has a sneaky way of making us feel trapped or helpless. But, even minor changes in our daily routines can make noticeable differences in our oral and mental health. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ways depression affects dental hygiene and offer some tips on how to handle it.
Depression and Dental Hygiene
Overall, experts believe that 8.4% of Americans experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2020. Of this 8.4%, women accounted for 10.5% while men accounted for 6.2%. These numbers have risen since 2020, with many experts estimating that roughly 30% of Americans now express some sign of depression or anxiety.
This is a major issue, as depression can lead to several behaviors that can negatively affect all aspects of our lives, including dental hygiene. Here are some of the ways depression can impact oral health:
People with depression may find it challenging to stick to a healthy diet, often resorting to comfort foods. Typically, these kinds of foods are high in sugar or carbohydrates, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Additionally, many of us who are battling depression often struggle to get essential nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) into our daily diets. This can make it more difficult for our bodies to repair themselves and function optimally. A poor diet can also compromise the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections in the mouth or elsewhere.
Lack of Motivation
Depression often results in a lack of motivation, even for go-getters. Oftentimes, this lack of motivation can make it more challenging or tedious to perform routine tasks, such as brushing and flossing.
While it is common for us to accidentally skip brushing or flossing every once in a while, continued neglect can have disastrous effects. Indeed, continued poor oral hygiene can lead to a buildup of significant plaque and tartar, which can cause:
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Gum disease
- Bad breath
Neglect of Dental Care
People with depression may neglect to seek dental care when they need it. This means that they may miss regular checkups and cleanings, as well as other health-saving treatments.
Neglecting even routine dental care can lead to untreated dental issues, which can cause:
- Invasive and costly procedures in the future
How to Handle Depression and Dental Hygiene
If you’re struggling with depression, it’s essential to prioritize your dental hygiene. However, this is much easier said than done.
Here are some tips to help you maintain good oral health during a depressive episode:
Develop a Routine
Developing a routine for dental hygiene can help make it a habit, even when motivation is lacking. Set reminders to brush your teeth at the same time each day, and make flossing a part of your daily routine.
But, even if you set reminders to brush and floss, you may not always feel up to the task. Here’s what we recommend:
- Respect the reminder: Rather than snoozing or ignoring the reminder, make your way to the room where your toothbrush and floss are. Once there, you’ll feel more committed to the task at hand.
- Something is better than nothing: Dentists recommend brushing for at least two minutes each time we conduct dental hygiene. However, this can seem like a very long time when we are battling depression. So, if two minutes seems too difficult, shoot for at least 45 seconds of brushing. When it comes to removing plaque and food debris, something is always better than nothing!
- Congratulate yourself: A win is a win, and brushing and flossing during a depressive episode is an absolute win! Be kind to yourself, and congratulate yourself on doing something healthy for your body.
Opt for Healthier Foods
A healthier diet can help maintain good oral health. So, try choosing foods that are lower in sugar and carbohydrates and higher in vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Lean proteins
- Dairy products
Practice Self-Care Often
Self-care is essential for managing depression and maintaining good oral health. Take time for yourself each day, whether it’s:
- Reading a book
- Taking a walk
- Practicing meditation
- Talking to a friend or family member
- Working on art or crafts
- Writing in a journal
Self-care can help boost your mood and motivation. As a result, it can make dental hygiene seem much more manageable.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re struggling with depression, seeking professional help can improve your mental and oral health. Our Dallas dentists can work with you to develop a plan to manage your oral health. We can also help you find suitable mental health resources to help you cope with or treat your depression.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
If you have dental anxiety or struggle to make it to regular appointments due to depression, sedation dentistry may be an option. Sedation dentistry uses medication to help you relax during dental procedures, such as:
- Oral conscious sedation
- Nitrous oxide
- Intravenous (IV) sedation
These medications can make it easier to receive the care you need (and deserve!). Simply ask our team which sedation method is best for your needs.
Discuss Depression and Dental Hygiene with Dallas Dentists
If you’re living with depression, you are not alone. The team at Lakewood Dental Group can help you get the judgment-free care you are entitled to. Get started with our compassionate dentists in Dallas, TX, by calling (214) 827-1885 or by submitting an appointment request here.