Depression doesn't just affect your mind. It can affect your whole body including your mouth, and if you suffer from depression, you have to pay extra attention to your teeth and gums to keep them healthy. Here are some common oral risks related to depression and a few tips on dealing with them:
1. Reluctance to brush and floss as needed
Unfortunately, depression often makes sufferers disinterested in their lives, and it can make the smallest, most mundane tasks, including flossing or brushing, feel like cumbersome, hard-to-accomplish chores.
If you find yourself skipping your oral hygiene routine, try to motivate yourself by combining brushing with a relaxing candlelit bath or by treating yourself to a new, electric-powered toothbrush. Remember oral hygiene is an important part of your self-care routine.
Alternatively, find substitutes for brushing you can do easily throughout the day. Chew on raw, crunchy vegetables to remove some of the plaque from your teeth, buy sugar-free gum to chew after meals or keep a large bottle of mouthwash on hand for a quick swish and spit every time you walk past the bathroom.
2. Disinterest in going to the dentist
Just as people with depression can become disinterested in brushing and flossing, they can also lose interest in going to the dentist. In some cases, you may even develop new fears or anxieties over dental appointments. If you feel these feelings starting and you've never had them before, address those fears with your therapist.
Also, try to step back from the situation to provide yourself with calming perspective. If you feel afraid, for example, and you know there is nothing to be afraid of, spend some time meditating or breathing deeply to find the calm you need to go to the dentist.
Regular dental checkups are always important, but if you are depressed and ignoring your oral health (even a little), these appointments and the cleanings, in particular, become even more important.
To temper your disinterest, make your next trip to the dentist more exciting. Instead of just getting a cleaning or having a cavity filled, consider some fun cosmetic dentistry. For example, if you've always felt down about the shape or position of your teeth, consider getting that fixed. It won't cure your depression, but it can help to boost your mood.
3. Consumption of extra sweets
When many people become depressed, they start craving simple carbs, lots of sugar and processed foods. This is just your body trying to soothe and comfort you. Ideally, for both your mood and your teeth, you should resist these urges, cut out these snacks and eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegs.
However, if trying to restrict yourself makes you feel even more depressed, there are a few things you can do to work around your cravings. Keep substitutes on hand for when you get a craving. Frozen grapes, for example, help to fill a sweet craving while nuts can help a craving for salt without being as bad for your teeth as fast food or packaged food.
Additionally, you can reduce the impact carbs and sugars have on your teeth by eating a few slices of low-fat cheese before your unhealthy snack.
4. Dry mouth from medication
If you take medication for your depression, many of those medications can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth, in turn, can lead to increased incidences of tooth decay and gum issues. In some cases, depression medication can also cause dangerous interactions with dental anesthesia.
If you are taking medication for your depression, always talk with your dentist before accepting any treatment. Also, if you are experiencing dry mouth, talk with your doctor about switching to a different type of medication that doesn't have that side effect. If that is not possible, combat that condition by drinking lots of water and chewing sugar-free gum to encourage the creation of saliva.Share
6 August 2015
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