Do bad teeth affect your mental health?
This answer is unfortunately yes, bad teeth do affect your mental health. With 9 out of 10 NHS Dentists now not accepting new patients and the additional mental health and wellbeing issues facing the UK post the Covid-19 pandemic which restricted access to dental health care, it is arguably a worse situation than before.
Original article published in June 2012…
New research reveals that 70%* (9.7 million) of people with bad teeth say it’s negatively affected their lives and that bad teeth affect their mental health. This is why more people are requesting teeth straightening, teeth whitening, composite bonding and other dentistry services.
And with 14 million people saying they have bad teeth – that’s almost a third (29%) of the adult population that are risking decay to their mental wellbeing, as well as their teeth.
Oasis Dental Care carried out the research which cites a reluctance to smile as the most common way that poor dental hygiene impacts lives.
5.4 million (39%*) of those with bad teeth say they try to hide their smile or even avoid smiling altogether. And self-esteem can be eroded too because 4.4 million (31%*) people say that having bad teeth has made them less confident in public.
A poorly maintained mouth is making 2.1 million (15%*) feel depressed and is even stopping 400,000 (3%*) leaving the house. 10%* (1.4 million) don’t speak as much as they would if they had better teeth and one million (7%*) say their love life has been negatively affected.
The study reveals that women are more sensitive to the mental impacts of having bad teeth as almost four-in-five (78%*) women who have bad teeth are affected versus just 63%* of men. That’s despite more men than women admitting to having poor oral hygiene (33% of men versus 26% of women).
Julian Perry, clinical director at Oasis Dental Care, said: ‘Dentists are clear that maintaining good dental hygiene will help you avoid pain, discomfort and oral diseases which can lead to the loss of teeth; but now we know that it’ll also help with your social wellbeing.
‘The negative mental impacts of having bad teeth identified in our study go beyond vanity – some members of the public are demonstrating some very serious psychological issues, and we’d urge them to see a dentist.
‘The good news for those affected is that there’s a solution to almost every dental problem, whether it’s to treat pain or whether it’s a cosmetic improvement. It’s frustrating that most of the complaints we deal with are as a result of neglect and are completely avoidable – so putting more effort into oral hygiene is normally the best solution.’
Those in the North East are more likely to suffer the negative mental effects of having bad teeth as 83%* say it’s had an impact; whilst those in the East of England are the least affected as just 52%* say it’s had an influence on their lives.
Although people from Wales claim to have the best teeth, four-in-five (80%*) of those who have poor teeth say that their life has been affected by them.
And although those in London and Scotland admit to having the worst teeth, it’s less likely to have an impact on their life – 72%* of Londoners and 70%* of Scots say that having bad teeth has affected their lives.
ICM Research conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of 2041 UK adults, 27-29 April 2012
Preventing and slowing the development of bad teeth can be achieved without a dentist.Here our some very useful tips and oral health product ideas to help with bad teeth …
- Get a good electric toothbrush. These don’t have to be expensive. We really like the oscillating technology with Oral B electric toothbrushes. Philips Sonicare electric brushes are also very popular.
- If you do use an electric toothbrush, make sure that you replace the tooth brush head every three months (when the bristles change colour and go soft and splayed). Otherwise the brush becomes ineffective.
- For toothpaste, there are lots of toothpastes available, but we prefer Colgate Total Care.
- Remember to floss. Using dental floss to clean between your teeth. If you struggle with standard dental floss and this puts you off flossing, try using dental floss picks. They are very easy to use.
- If you can afford it, you could invest in a water flosser. Waterpik is the brand leader and is very good, but there are cheaper products available.
- Another way to clean between teeth is to use interdental brushes. One of the best brands is TePe interdental brushes. They offer a very wide range of brushes, including very fine ones for cleaning between teeth.
- Using a chlorhexidine mouthwash such as Corsodyl can help with bleeding and irritated gums, mouth ulcers and infections.
- If you grind your teeth, you can purchase a generic mouth guard. Getting a custom made one from your dentist is preferable as you will have a perfect fit. These are a better alternative than doing nothing.
- If you need a quick fix to a broken tooth or if a filling fall out before you see an emergency dentist, you can buy an emergency filling kit for teeth.
These are really useful as a temporary solution until you can see a dentist. They don’t last for the long term though as you need specialist skills, materials and dental equipment for a long term fix.
Other tips to improve your mental health…
- Seek professional help & counselling. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe mental health issues, it’s crucial to consult with a mental health professional such as a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist.If you don’t know where to start, try Mind.co.uk it’s a charity with great resources.They can provide guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Check out the NHS website for additional tips.
- Look after yourself. Try new activities that promote self-care and relaxation. This could include regular exercise, going to sleep earlier, eating healthy, practicing meditation, spending time in nature, pursuing hobbies, and setting aside time for activities you enjoy such as travelling.
- Supportive friends and family. Surround yourself understanding individuals. Share your feelings and concerns with people that you trust. Connect with others who have similar needs as yourself.
- De-stress: Develop coping mechanisms for stress management. This could involve practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in stress free activities and establishing boundaries to avoid excessive stress.
- Be kind to yourself: Treat yourself with the same care you would offer to someone you care about.
- Limit exposure to negativity: Be mindful of the media you consume and the people you surround yourself with. Minimise exposure to toxic environments and people in the real world and online.
- Set SMART goals: Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps.Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant & Timebound.
- Seek a good work & life balance: Strive for a lifestyle that incorporates work, relationships, hobbies, relaxation, and self-care. Avoid excessive commitments or overworking, as they can negatively impact mental health.