Your oral health is a true reflection of how you feel about yourself. So it’s no surprise that people suffering from depression, either diagnosed by a doctor or not, have some of the worst dental problems. Two large scale national surveys conducted in 2005 and 2008, surveyed more than 10,000 people by telephone. And the results were still startling, the link between depression and oral health is much stronger than you would guess.
Surprisingly Strong Link Between Depression and Dental Care
If you have two oral health problems, you would be 60% more likely to be depressed. Four oral health problems would indicate you are twice likely to be depressed and six oral health problems says you are four times likely to be depressed. Your dentist cannot diagnose you for depression, but they can probably tell that you’re unusually sad. Depression related questions used in the survey ranged from asking if you feel little pleasure in everyday life to if you have suicidal thoughts. They also asked respondents if they had feelings of hopelessness, feel bad about themselves, and speak very fast or very slow. The study did not conclude that poor oral health caused depression, rather that people who are depressed neglect their oral health.
Poor Self Image and Tooth Loss
There are many cultures in the world that believe when you dream about losing a tooth or a tooth being pulled out, it’s an omen that somebody you know will die. Other dream interpretations say that tooth loss dreams represent social anxiety. Because teeth are an important aspect of our image, when we feel socially anxious, perhaps transitioning in a new workplace or new neighbourhood, it’s normal to feel anxiety about our image. It makes more sense to interpret tooth loss in dreams as manifestations of stress from a new social environment.
The Oral Fixation Theory and Caring for Your Teeth
This is a theory proposed by Marvin Mansky, a dentist in New York. He says that oral health is a reflection of the state of your self-image, more than any other aspect of your appearance. Because the tongue and the mouth is the first organ babies are able to control. Newborns may not be able to walk or even lift their own head, but they control their mouth in order to suckle and survive. For the first two months of life, the mouth is an infant’s only means of expression and introduction to the world outside itself. Mansky says that is why he thinks the mouth is foremost in our unconscious mind, and oral health reflects how one feels about themselves. Individuals who posses poor self image, neglect their oral health. You may or may not subscribe to Mansky’s theory, but there are several studies linking self-destructive behaviour and poor oral health.