Can Mental Health Affect Dental Health?

mental health affect dental health

Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS


We do not usually give our oral health the attention it deserves. It is common to think that dental problems or diseases are less than other types of disorders or pathologies, perhaps because of how simple it is to replace the lack of teeth or because the discomfort that a visit to the dentist can cause us is not severe enough. However, we forget that the human body is an interconnected whole, a perfect cog in which the failure of one part can cause distortions at another point in the system.

From another point of view, mental disorders affect a large part of the population worldwide. People who suffer from these diseases are often subjected to a greater number of risk factors for oral diseases. This could be due to the side effects of the medications they take, the lack of self-care, the difficulty in accessing care, the attitude towards health professionals and the lack of cooperation in dental treatments.

Among the diseases that afflict the world population are: Dementia, Depression, anxiety, eating disorders such as Bulimia and Anorexia, Schizophrenia.


Dementia is a syndrome characterized by progressive memory loss, disorientation, and problems with cognitive functioning. This is caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, among others.

Some studies show that patients with dementia have poor oral health compared to those without dementia since the former have a higher incidence of cavities and reduced saliva flow. For this reason, it is essential to provide oral health education for these patients, and opt for artificial saliva substitutes and stimulants if necessary, topical fluoride, good oral hygiene, and regular visits to the dentist.

Patients with dementia may not be able to interpret or report pain or discomfort. Some manifestations that can be taken as oral discomfort are refusal to eat, constant blows to the face, increased salivation, increased restlessness and moans or screams. The oral health team must be attentive to these signs and educate caregivers to be able to access the necessary health services early.


It is a common and debilitating disorder characterized by loss of energy, anhedonia, poor concentration, decreased libido, and feelings of sadness and discouragement that interfere with people’s daily lives. This loss of interest affects people’s oral health since those who previously had good oral hygiene stop worrying about their appearance. For this reason, the most common oral pathology in this population is caries. This lack of hygiene can ultimately lead to tooth loss. It should be noted that the oral problems generated by the behaviour of depressed people interfere with their self-esteem, altering the prognosis for the treatment of their mental illness.


Anxiety is a syndrome made up of a set of subjective and objective manifestations, characterized by an alert state associated with signs and symptoms such as sweating and hand tremors. These are the same ones that generally accompany the appearance or expectation of an objective danger, even without its presence. The main conditions that may manifest in these patients include caries, periapical, pulp, gingival, periodontal lesions, and cellulitis or abscesses in the mouth.

The anxiety that the dental consultation produces can be managed with behavioural techniques, hypnosis techniques. Similarly, a calm, safe, reassuring environment created by the dental health team helps relieve symptoms; even sedation and general anaesthesia can be used.


A bulimic individual enters a cycle of excessive food intake, and vomiting is subsequently induced. Stomach acids present in vomit pass through the mouth and can erode the tooth enamel causing cavities, discoloration, and tooth loss.

In cases of anorexia, the individual’s state of semi-starvation deprives the body of the nutrients it needs. Osteoporosis can develop and that weakens the jawbones that support the teeth, causing them to lose.

In both diseases, the treatment of the underlying causes that lead to anorexia and bulimia,  and the dental complications that result from them, is of utmost importance. While the dentist can correct damaged tooth enamel, they cannot treat the actual eating disorder. If you think that you have a disorder of this type, or that you could suffer from one, talk to your doctor.


Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling illness. It is defined by the presence of abnormalities in one or more of the following domains: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thoughts, disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour, and negative symptoms (thought poverty, anhedonia, affective flattening). A study carried out in patients with schizophrenia mentions that they are at high risk of developing oral diseases, showing that 61% of them have poor oral hygiene, including dry mouth, tooth loss, and severe forms of cavities. Dry mouth can be explained as a side effect of antipsychotic medication used in these patients.


It is necessary to make known to society and in particular to parents who suspect some non-daily event in the behaviour of their child who often go to an appointment with the dentist that there have been some cases in which it was the dentists themselves who made the detection of a particular mental illness in its initial stages thus contributing to preventing more aggravating deterioration.

If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental, as well as on our Facebook page. At Channel Islands Family Dental, we will be attentive to your visit to make a timely diagnosis. Besides, our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, and  Port Hueneme will be able to guide you to the best treatment to give you back your best smile.

KEYWORDS: mental detriment, dental signs, or symptoms.


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