Oral Hygiene and its Relationship To Depression and Anxiety

impact of depression and anxiety on oral health

Many people during these stressful times are suffering from depression and anxiety. These emotional problems can directly affect how we take care of our teeth and gums.


The dentist and hygienist many times are the first line of health care professionals who will detect if a patient is a bit sad or jittery. It is incumbent on us at 172 NYC Dental to provide a safe, relaxing, and comfortable environment. Communication, patient education, and building trust between us and our patients is of paramount importance. 


We take detailed medical histories of our patients. Many times medicines that patients are presently taking will clearly tell us if they are anxious or depressed. Medications that treat depression and anxiety can lead to several conditions in the mouth. This includes xerostomia (dry mouth), bruxism (grinding of one’s teeth), and hypersalivation. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s), Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s), and Monamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s) can interact with local anesthetics, antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( Advil). 

Maintaining Oral Health through Depression and Anxiety


At times patients, battling depression, present with an increase in caries (cavities) and periodontal disease. Two of the main causes are that when we are depressed we stop caring for ourselves; we stop brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist; additionally, we start eating sugary foods and drinks. Sugar is the biggest nemesis to maintaining proper oral health. 


At 172 NYC Dental, we have developed a multiphase approach to help those going through tough times to maintain proper oral health.

Commitment to Self-Care


We believe in developing a commitment to “self-care”. Self-care is our ability to take care of ourselves in physical, emotional, and spiritual means to correlate to better overall emotional health. Dental care is a part of self-care. Clean teeth and healthy gums will make us feel that we are taking care of ourselves and that will equate to feeling happier and even less anxious about seeing the dentist. Remember that when implanting a new activity into our routine it takes over fourteen attempts (two weeks) for it to become habitual.


So in the first two weeks, it will be helpful for our patients to make a schedule of their AM and PM routines that include brushing, flossing, and ACT rinse. This can be done in a post that is hung in the bathroom or with reminders on their phone. 

How to Get on Track


We want to start small. We do not want our patients to be overwhelmed with strict demands or orders. Getting healthy whether it be emotional or dental in origin is a mosaic. Several small modifications in our lifestyle can have a very big effect. As the clouds lift the sun starts to shine, a little bit at a time; then suddenly it’s a beach day. Below is a menu of good suggestions to start the process of achieving long-lasting oral health. Feel free to pick and choose what works best for you.

1. Diet

  • Eliminate refined sugars, junk food, and crackers
  • Eat fruit, vegetables, and nuts
  • Eat fish and chicken
  • Take Vitamin D 1000iu/day
  • Chew gum containing Xylitol rather than sugar

2. Social Interaction

  • Exercise
  • Get out of the house for walks, expose oneself to sunlight
  • Visit dentist more often and have all dental work completed
  • Stress reduction, meditative breathing techniques
  • Treat any problems with substance abuse
  • Seek psychological care from trained professional

3. Home Care

  • Brush two times daily for a period of two minutes, each time (30 seconds/quadrant)

Small soft brushes or electrical brushes are best. Electric brushes and other mechanical. Cleansing aids are just fun. They feel good. This reinforces one’s desire to keep using them and thus forms a program that is habitual and consistent.

  • Low abrasion level toothpaste that has a long shelf life of fluoride (Sensodyne, Colgate, Crest)
  • Flossing once a day; preferably before bedtime (Glide), liquid floss or Waterpik good adjunct
  • Fluoride rinse (Act)
  • Swishing mouth with water after eating sticky foods
  • When formulating routines and lists try to brush and floss right after eating


4. Dental office visits

  • Make check-ups more often 3-4 times per year
  • Develop a relationship with the dentist (172 NYC Dental) based on trust and proper communication
  • Ask for nitrous oxide (N2O) conscious sedation to alleviate any anxiety
  • Have fluoride varnish applied after cleanings

5. Learn to smile


Smiling releases endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals make us feel happier and less stressed. They can improve one’s mood and increase our positive thoughts

A beautiful smile leads to a beautiful life.

Schedule an Appointment with 172 NYC Dental


So put on a happy face, take a deep breath and contact 172 NYC Dental. We are waiting for you to come in and enjoy a complimentary consultation. More importantly, take the first small step to feel better and enjoy a beautiful smile inside and out. We treat an entire person not only their teeth. Your exquisite care is based on clinical excellence, trust, and friendship. Don’t procrastinate, make that call today!

About Dr. Albert Song

Dr. Song's extensive knowledge in general dentistry allows him to create and execute a variety of treatment plans based on your individual oral health needs. Dr. Song can also perform a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures, transforming the look and feel of your smile.

Questions? Contact us online or give us a call at 646-921-5541 today!
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