Anxiety Disorders and How They Contribute to Oral Health Issues

Many Americans suffer from a variety of anxieties, some more severe than others. These can range from generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Even though anxiety is an issue primarily concerning one’s mental health, several side effects affecting the whole body can occur as a result.

Oral health, for example, is seriously implicated. Hence, it is said that oral health is the main indicator of one’s overall health. Below are several anxieties that dentists in Birmingham, AL have encountered in their patients and how they contribute to oral health issues.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) manifests itself in a person as exaggerated and excessive worrying about everyday life. This includes money, health, career, and family. Getting through the day is sometimes difficult because even the smallest task can seem overwhelming and insurmountable.

Some oral health side effects of this disorder are dry mouth and difficulty swallowing due to lower levels of saliva. Additionally, there is increased stomach acid build-up. This, in turn, may lead to acid reflux. Acid reflux then wreaks havoc on one’s teeth. This is by stomach acid coming into contact with enamel on the surface and potentially penetrating into the next layer.

Panic attacks

Panic attacks are fears brought on suddenly and intensely with a wide array of side effects. Although they are mostly unexpected, panic attacks are triggered by a known source. A trip to the dentist, for instance, has been known to elicit panic attacks in some. This is due to the perceived unpleasantness that might occur while there.

In addition, there is the anticipation of receiving bad news concerning one’s teeth, such as the need for a cavity to be filled or for a tooth removal. Mild or severe teeth chattering are symptoms that may occur throughout the duration of such an attack. This is an uncontrollable side effect. It has the ability to escalate beyond the attack itself into routine clenching of the teeth. Consequently, this leads to permanent tooth damage.

Dental phobia

Phobias are intense. They are often irrational or unfounded, such as fears toward something. There are many people who experience dental phobias. This indicates the mere thought of a dentist visit makes them extremely anxious and full of dread. As a result of this fear, these people will avoid regular dental appointments at all costs.

They can go several years without ever seeing a professional. Even if they do make it to the office, they may faint or become physically ill. They can also experience a panic attack. This ultimately affects their oral health in a multitude of negative ways. This includes but is not limited to discoloration; pain inflicted from cavities, gum infections or disease, broken teeth, and even tooth loss.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

People suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are known to have higher levels of plaque and gingivitis, which is a form of gum disease). It is a result of neglecting good hygiene practices. A complete disregard for one’s health is a common symptom of PTSD. This is because these people are scarred from having encountered an extremely shocking or dangerous life event.

Clenching and grinding of the teeth, also known as bruxism, is also high among this group. It is due to even more stress brought on during sleep. It is possible that victims are reliving the traumatizing event(s) in their unconscious state. It is critical that patients see a dentist to avoid the excessive wearing down of tooth surfaces.

Although it is second nature for many people, maintaining good oral health is not as easy for some as it is for others. For people struggling with anxiety, their oral health is severely compromised by the effects of their disorder. Sometimes they do not even know it.

From dry mouth and discoloration to gum disease and tooth loss, the range of effects that dentists in Birmingham, AL see in patients is wide and devastating. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder are only a few of the anxieties from which many Americans experience today. However, they encompass many dental problems. It is advisable that people suffering from such anxieties consult with a physician so they do not affect further areas of their lives.