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Good Oral Health is Essential to Good Mental Health

13th December 2018

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

A scientific study by Dr. Steve Kisely shows a strong connection between oral health and psychological health. The oral cavity is a big gateway to the rest of the body, and oral diseases pose threats to the overall well-being of the body, including mental and physical health. Eating disorders do have psychological roots and this is why they are classified as mental health issues. These disorders negatively impact the way that people feel about their shapes and body weights, to the point where their eating habits are disturbed and their viewpoints about food are distorted. To boost oral health, people with eating disorders should replace acidic drinks with low-acid fluids, use fluoride toothpastes and rinses and go for twice-yearly cleanings at the dentist. Better oral health may help with mental health, and strengthening mental health is one of the keys to successfully battling an eating disorder.

Replace acidic drinks with safer choices

People who have eating disorders should be aware that drinking fruit juices that are acidic is bad for their oral health. Those with bulimia nervosa, who vomit to get rid of food, should take care to avoid drinking high-acid juices. Vomiting brings stomach acids into the oral cavity, which may damage tooth enamel. It’s better to substitute water or milk for fruit juice that is high in acid. If you must have fruit juices, drink them from straws, so that the acid in the juice doesn’t cover the inside of the mouth.

Utilize fluoride toothpastes and rinses

Fluoride is a mineral which occurs naturally in water in the United Kingdom, but the amounts of naturally-occurring fluoride in UK water vary based on location. Fluoride assists with the prevention of tooth decay. Eating disorder patients should use fluoride toothpastes and rinses to beef up their oral health. They shouldn’t rely on the local water supply to get the fluoride that they need in order to enjoy good oral health. Toothpaste should contain 1,350 to 1,500 ppm of fluoride and teeth should be brushed with fluoride toothpaste twice per day, according to the National Health Service website. Fluoride mouth rinses should contain 1,350 ppm or more of this important mineral. Rinses should be used long before (or well after) teeth are brushed, so that they don’t wash residual toothpaste off of the teeth.

See a dentist twice per year

A dentist is the only person who’s qualified to give your teeth a proper cleaning and do check-ups which detect gum disease, cavities and other oral health issues. Eating disorder patients must guard their oral health by seeing their dentists for cleanings, plus check-ups, every six months. If an eating disorder is causing damage to teeth, more trips to the dentist may be needed. Dentists are able to detect serious dental issues that afflict eating disorder patients, such as ETW (Erosive Tooth Wear), which may have serious consequences if not treated. A scientific study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that some dentists actually have the power to detect eating disorders, based on the condition of their patient's teeth.

Take good care of yourself

Eating disorders are rough, but there is always hope. When you replace acidic drinks with safer choices, use fluoride toothpastes and rinses and see your dentist twice per year, you’ll be doing all that you can to improve oral health. Your new focus on boosting oral health may improve your mental health and help you to beat your eating disorder.

Lucy Wyndham

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