A healthy mouth, gums and teeth are an important part of physical health. Good oral health also plays a part in self-esteem, self-confidence and overall quality of life. Patients with mental health problems are particularly noted to have poor dental hygiene and some of the reasons can be fear, difficulty of accessing a dentist, costs and mental health professionals not recognising oral health problems. A lot of times, oral health is not seen as a priority.
Causes of poor dental health:
- Dry mouth; Most medications used to treat mental health problems cause a dry mouth. When there is less saliva in the mouth, the acidity caused by high sugars cannot be diluted, and this is harmful.
- General lifestyle; Many of the medications used to treat mental health problems increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. At the same time, it is also a known fact that many patients with mental health problems smoke. These factors combined increase the risk of heart disease, breathing problems and diabetes.
- Increased sugar intake, particularly soft drinks.
Tips for good dental care
- Regular brushing; at least twice a day, ideally after your meals if you can. Try to brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time.
- Regular flossing; Flossing between your teeth is essential for avoiding gum infections and tooth decay. Gum infections is the most important cause of tooth loss.
- Using fluoride toothpaste
- Seeing a dental professional twice a year
For more information
If you are concerned about your dental health and would like more information, there are a number of ways of doing so;
Find your nearest dentist and ask if they provide NHS dental care. You do not need to register with the dentist; simply find a convenient time, and appropriately located practice for you. If you are unable to find your dentist, search for a dentist near you or call NHS 111.
Speak to your mental health doctor and inform them of your concerns. They may be able to refer you to a dental health professional.