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Oral health and mental health are more connected than you think

A woman shows her teeth as she smiles for story: Oral health and mental health are more connected than you think

Taking care of your oral health should be part of your self-care routine. | Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

A new report has found that oral health is indirectly connected to the mental well-being of older adults. A study by a team at Okayama University Hospital found that “good oral health may lower the risk of several diseases.”

The results of the study conducted by the team of Okayama University Hospital senior associate professor Noriko Takeuchi, PhD, found that oral health is related to nutritional status, which is tied to “subjective well-being” in older adults.

Simply put, there are a lot of things that could be affected by one’s oral health. Having the ability to chew and swallow properly, and having a good set of (functional) teeth determines what one can eat, which then affects one’s health.

An article on expounds: “When a person has poor oral health, it can impact their eating, speech, and self-esteem and lead to reduced social interactions, further harming mental well-being.”

Likewise, they add, “Symptoms of mental illnesses can contribute to poor nutrition, which in turn contributes to poor dental health.”

This shows that physical, dental, and mental health all go hand in hand, and must all be cared for if we want to achieve positive well-being.

Many experts suggest thinking of oral or dental care as part of one’s self-care practices. Here are some easy ways to keep your oral health in top shape.

Brush and floss regularly

The most basic act you can do to care for your oral health is to brush your teeth. Spend two minutes at least twice a day brushing your teeth.

When brushing your teeth, it’s also important to (gently!) brush your tongue. Plaque and bacteria can also build up on the tongue, which can then lead to bad mouth odor and other problems, so be sure to include your tongue when you brush your teeth.

At night, it is also recommended to floss. Flossing helps remove debris and plaque that may be stuck in your gums. It also helps “massage” the gums, thereby increasing circulation here.

Don't just brush, floss, too | Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Don’t just brush, floss, too | Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Drink more water and eat tooth-friendly food

While staying hydrated benefits the entire body, it also keeps the mouth healthy. Water prevents your mouth from being dry, and can help wash away the remains of food after meals.

Consider switching to more tooth-friendly munchies if you’re also a regular snacker. Fresh, crunchy fruits and vegetables are better because they contain healthy fiber. And fruits like apples and vegetables like celery have a high water content that is also beneficial for oral health.

Lessen sugary and acidic food and drink

Going hand in hand with eating tooth-friendly food is limiting your intake of foods and drinks that can damage the enamel of your teeth. Sugar causes the acid that leads to cavities, while teas, coffee, and even alcohol may also contain acids and sugar that can erode the enamel.

Visit your dentist

To ensure that your teeth are healthy, it’s also important to have them checked by your dentist. It is recommended to visit the dentist at least every six months. Your dentist may also recommend other ways or products that can help you further care for your oral health.


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TAGS: adults, mental health, oral health, study
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