Your Teeth & Mental Health: The Surprising Connections
Your Teeth & Mental Health: The Surprising Connections
Anybody who has had serious toothache will not be surprised to find that there is a very real correlation involving our teeth and our mental health. Pain around our teeth and gums is hard to ignore and the nerve pathways link it to the overall state of our wellbeing. Teeth have deep roots into our jaws and skull. There is an ancient molecular structure into our most primal brainstem and emotional centres above this. The surprising connection between your teeth and mental health is no surprise to neurologists and anatomical brain experts.
Grin & Bare It For All To See
Showing our teeth in a grin or grimace is linked to the ancient behaviour of our evolutionary ancestors. Teeth are involved in our most primal concern that of eating and feeding ourselves. If you have ever watched chimpanzees you will know what I mean. Modern human beings are very concerned with the state of their teeth. Bad teeth on display often contribute to feelings of social inferiority and social anxiety. The relatively recent obsession with the whiteness of our teeth permeates most levels of society. Our smile is akin to baring ourselves in some primal way to others within our tribe. Gleaming white teeth seem to be associated in the mind’s of many with rude health.
Mental Health & Our Oral Health
We are becoming aware of mental health in a deeper and more sophisticated manner. I think that the Covid global pandemic has exposed more of the cracks within our society and we are paying closer attention to the mental wellbeing of more members of our communities who have been traditionally neglected. Poor oral hygiene is far more prevalent within those who struggle economically. There is a two-way bio-directional association between oral and mental health in that they impact upon each other. Individuals with bad teeth sometimes avoid going to the dentist and it becomes a vicious circle of feelings of self-loathing and anxiety. The mouth is an intensely sensitive place for better or worse. We enjoy wonderful flavours and sensations but the downside when things are broken is unavoidable pain.
Maddening Nerve Pain Hard to Ignore
This type of nerve pain messes with our heads. Both the hardware and the software within us make oral issues very real mental health tipping points. It is advisable to seek professional dental care when suffering from painful conditions involving teeth and gums. Studies have revealed that individuals with serious mental health issues are 2.7 times more likely to lose their natural teeth. Poor oral hygiene can be a slippery slope, indeed. Teeth represent symbolically, according to psychologists, our outer sign of vitality. Who hasn’t had that terrible dream or nightmare where all your teeth fall out? The feelings associated with that loss are profound and awful. Strong healthy teeth are our connection to the vitality of youth.
Toothy Youth Appeal
We live in a youth obsessed culture if you hadn’t noticed and or have been living on some other planet. Being able to chew challenging textures becomes more difficult as we age and lose teeth. What was once taken for granted is now a thing of the past for many older human beings. The spring in your step has an oral equivalent in the tearing and masticating munch of your chompers. The wide smile with white healthy teeth is a sexual signal to whoever is interested in that particular Homo sapiens. Love is sealed with a kiss and the oral health touchstone is at play here too. Fresh breath confidence comes from good oral hygiene.
Can you be mentally healthy if you have bad teeth? Our youth-obsessed culture would probably answer in the negative. Ageing, however, does eventually involve the graceful acceptance of gravity and the affects of time upon the human body. We try to delay this inevitable onset for as long as we possibly can – often for the betterment of our mental health. Regular and frequent visits to the dentist will maintain the health of your teeth and gums for longer and reduce your suffering along the way. Getting older is not best accomplished by locking yourself away and living like a hermit. Coming to terms with ageing grapples with the issues of the failing body and makes the best of modern science to assist where it can. A big part of the challenge of living longer is managing your mental health over the distance.
Life is different every day and we bring different skills and emphasis along our journey as we get older. Embracing these changes, with the help of healthcare specialists, can mean a more engaging lifetime. Eat good healthy foods and drink pure water wherever possible. Don’t smoke and reduce your alcohol intake. Give sugar the old heave ho out of your life. Exercise regularly – walking is the best form of exercise. Get up off your posterior more often and breath lots of fresh air in the great outdoors. See your dentist regularly and maintain an excellent daily dental care ritual yourself. Healthy teeth and gums mean a happy headspace upstairs and throughout your body more generally.
Note: All content and media on the Bacchus Marsh Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.
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