In a recent survey by the dental insurance agency Delta, there is a strong link between oral health and mental health in older Americans (50 or older). Conducted in April of 2023, the survey shows that 37% of respondents answered that their tooth pain added to their feelings of depression or hopelessness. The survey helps provide insight into how you might be able to improve your overall mental health, by improving your oral health. Below, we will discuss some of the findings of the survey.

Poor Dental Health and Feelings of Insecurity

For many people, an imperfect smile can cause feelings of insecurity. 60% of the surveyed adults stated that they often felt insecure or feared negative judgment about the appearance of their teeth. Only 22% of those surveyed said that they feel this way infrequently or not at all. This means that the majority of older Americans surveyed feel some type of insecurity regarding the appearance of their teeth.

Dental Pain and Mental Health

It is no surprise that physical pain worsens mental health. This can also be the case for pain caused by dental issues. In the survey, 45% stated that they are more likely to notice changes in their mental health while dealing with dental pain or discomfort. 37% of the people in the survey who stated that they frequently or sometimes experience depression or hopelessness say that their oral pain worsens these feelings.

Depression and Neglecting Care

When dealing with feelings of depression, it may be more difficult to provide sufficient care for yourself. According to the survey, More than one in three admit that they are more likely to neglect dental care while depressed. This can include regular brushing and flossing. Additionally, this may also extend to other areas of self-care. While also dealing with feelings of depression, people are less likely to schedule appointments with their dentist or make those appointments. This can lead to a cascading problem where dental health continues to deteriorate along with worsening mental health.

Improving Mental Health Along With Dental Care

While you can’t cure feelings of depression, anxiety, or other mental concerns with dental care, you can potentially reduce their frequency. There is a major link between physical and mental health. Working to improve your overall health in any aspect is a positive. With comprehensive dental care, you can feel more confident and more secure with your smile. You can also reduce the amount of pain you feel when it comes to your gums or teeth. Reducing this frequency of dental pain can help improve your overall mental health.

A Center for Dental Excellence does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
A Center for Dental Excellence provides expert dental care to the Brooklyn and Staten Island communities we serve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us or call the office you would like to visit. (718) 232-8289 for Brooklyn, and (718) 980-9555 for Staten Island.