Can Mental Health Affect Dental Health? (3 Damaging Effects)

Last Updated on: 4th April 2024, 07:53 am

Are you wondering if can mental health affect dental health? Mental health directly affects a person’s way of life. It includes their way of thinking, feeling, and acting. It is thus tantamount to well-being Therefore, it influences the way we take care of our health in general, including oral health. There is a saying: “The smile is the mirror of the soul” because the teeth can express emotions and reflect emotional states.

How can mental health affect dental health?

can mental health affect dental health
woman having a bad breath

Various studies have shown a clear link between mental and dental health. This relationship is manifested in the appearance of dental problems and vice versa.

Several factors can be involved. For example, any negative emotion can influence the health of the teeth. Stress and anxiety lead to clenching, which causes tooth erosion. Depression and anxiety affect basic oral hygiene habits. If they are lacking, it entails an increased risk of tooth decay.
On the other hand, oral health problems such as the loss of teeth or halitosis caused by gum disease affect self-esteem, leading to a state of anxiety, stress, or depression.

The Impact of Stress and Anxiety on dental health

Stress is a mental condition in which the brain is overloaded with worry. We all know the tension we feel from the continuous urgency of life today. This causes anxiety that translates into all kinds of ailments, and some affect oral health. Among the main oral conditions are:
1. Bruxism: The action of grinding the teeth, which are clenched either consciously or unconsciously – generally during sleep. The greater the stress, the greater the degree of bruxism. Bruxism can cause damage to the teeth and jaw such as:
tooth wear
      • Fractures and dental fissures
      • Tooth hypersensitivity
      • Pain in the jaw 
      • Disorders of the temporomandibular joint
2. Oral thrush: The main cause is stress and a decrease in the functioning of the immune system. An altered nervous state can lead to repetitive biting of the lips, the inner face of the cheeks, etc. which favors its appearance.
3. Gum disease: The increase in cortisol levels due to anxiety weakens the immune system, leaving the individual prone to various gum conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which cause bleeding and inflammation of the gums and even the loss of teeth.
oral thrush
gum disease





How Depression Affects Oral Health

Depression is an affective disorder associated with low self-esteem and loss of interest in life, which translates to a lack of interest in personal care. 
Caries dental: Depressive people are often disinterested in performing routine activities such as brushing their teeth. This leads to the proliferation of bacteria in the mouth, including those that engender dental caries.
Xerostomia: Antidepressant medications reduce the activity of the salivary glands, which can cause dry mouth syndrome and possible yeast infections.

Eating disorders and dental health

Eating disorders are alterations in normal behavior such as an abnormal concern with weight and therefore eating. Due to eating alterations, negative physical and oral conditions can be triggered.
    • Anorexia: It consists of restricting food intake. In cases of severe malnutrition, it can cause osteoporosis, such that bones such as the maxilla weaken, causing dental mobility and loss of teeth.
    • Bulimia: It is a disorder that entails recurrent binge eating, generally followed by self-provocation of vomiting. Continuous vomiting means the regular introduction of acids into the mouth,  causing severe damage to the enamel of the teeth. It weakens and becomes prone to cracking or breaking. Because the teeth are left unprotected, they become hypersensitive as well.


Substance Abuse and Oral Health

Substance abuse is a mental illness that affects behavior. It disables their normal sense of self-control over the ingestion of illicit drugs.
Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are considered addictive substances, and they are very harmful to oral health. They can cause dry mouth, contributing to the formation of bacterial plaque, dental caries, and periodontal diseases.

Other mental illnesses that impact oral health

    • Schizophrenia: People with schizophrenia suffer from gum disease, increased tooth loss, and cavities associated with neglect of oral hygiene, avoidance behavior, and a high-sugar diet. In many cases, it is associated with the misuse of illicit substances.
    • Autism spectrum disorders:  Those with ASD have difficulty tolerating oral care along with their normal communication problems. that could favor the deterioration of oral health.



Tips for maintaining good dental health with mental health conditions

When depression, anxiety, or another mental condition affects oral health, there are always ways to counteract it. The simplest and most practical measure is to maintain good daily dental hygiene, which involves brushing the teeth at least twice a day and supplementing it with the use of dental floss and mouthwash. It is also essential to visit the dentist at least once a year, as a preventive measure.
patient with a dentist
patient having a dental checkup



It is essential to maintain a positive balance of general and mental health, requesting professional help if necessary in the case of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Good habits, in addition to avoiding diseases inside and outside the mouth, preserve oral health, which favors a positive mental state, reinforces self-esteem, and improves general well-being.

Contact us

If you have any questions about “can mental health cause mental problems” or other topics, you can contact us atChannel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists inOxnard,Santa Paula,VenturaNewbury Park, andPort Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.



  1. Association between oral health and general health indicators in older adults (2019) Nature Communications. Disponible en:
  2. Torales, J. (2017) Oral health problems in people with mental disorders. Available in:
  3. Brujan H. (2023) Bruxism is the dental pathology that has increased the most due to stress. Available in:
  4. Hudson J. (2021) How mental health affects oral health. National Library of Medicine. Disponible en:
  5. Oral Health Foundation (2020) Mental illness and oral health. Disponible en:
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