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Oral Health and Depression

An estimated 300 million people worldwide and 16.2 million in America alone suffer from the mental health disorder clinical depression. Depression can strike anyone at any time. It can be motivated by any number of causes, both external and internal. Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the country, striking nearly 7 percent of the adult population at any time. Unfortunately, researchers estimate that only about 37 percent of those affected actively seek treatment, leaving over 60 percent of sufferers struggling to do everyday tasks. Some of those tasks include self-care and basic hygiene.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who struggle with mental health issues, including clinical depression, we know it can be difficult to care for yourself. But caring for your health and hygiene – especially your oral health - is vital to your survival. After all, poor oral hygiene has been linked to everything from periodontitis to heart disease to cancer and diabetes. While it still may be difficult to motivate yourself to take care of yourself, there are some things you can do to make it a bit easier. Try these oral health tips to help keep your mouth healthy even on your most difficult days.

When it comes to oral hygiene, anything is better than nothing. If you find it too difficult to brush twice a day for two minutes a day, do what you can manage as consistently as possible. If you can only manage one minute at a time, or once a day, while not ideal, these are both better than simply not brushing at all.

Another tip that might make brushing a little more appealing is switching up your routine a little. Try a new toothpaste flavor or get a new toothbrush in a bright color. Even swapping out the brush head on an electric brush can help you feel like you’re getting a fresh start.

When you’re not feeling your best, your eating habits can change along with your mood. The important thing to remember when making dietary choices is to look for oral health-friendly foods, especially if you are brushing less frequently than you should be. Drink plenty of water, and eat lots of foods that are tooth friendly, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and dairy. Try to avoid processed foods and sticky foods that will adhere to the teeth.

Finally, chewing sugarless gum has been proven to neutralize acids in the mouth and prevent cavities, so while it’s not ideal, chewing some sugarless gum in lieu of brushing will still do some good toward improving your oral hygiene.

For more information about depression and oral health, please call Dr. Simpson at 910-239-7164.

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