It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s the time of year when even people living in the south can get depressed. Experts believe that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered when our bodies have less exposure to natural light. Not only does this give you the blues, it can lead to poor oral health. Teeth are not self-cleaning and require daily care – find out why it’s critical to avoid letting depression get in the way of how you tend to your teeth and gums.
Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder
Millions of Americans suffer from depression at a certain time of year. There are people who simply have a bout of the winter blues, where they’re tired of being stuck in the house or prevented from doing the things they enjoy because of the weather or darkness. Then there are plenty of others who are officially diagnosed with SAD and suffer with acute depression that takes them away from the life they normally live, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Besides all the obvious health and lifestyle problems depression can cause, there is an often-overlooked side effect of SAD – poor oral health. Depression can impact every part of your life, even your teeth, and without attention, that can mean even more complications.
Apathy and Your Oral Health
You’re probably guilty of skipping your teeth-brushing routine once or twice. You’re too tired to bother. You’re already snuggled in bed and don’t feel like getting back up. You fell asleep early and forgot to brush. We get it. Ignoring your teeth occasionally shouldn’t cause any major problems. Neglecting your oral health on a regular basis, however, can lead to serious dental problems.
With depression, instead of brushing and flossing being part of a person’s daily morning and night routines, oral hygiene gets neglected. Brushing switches to once a day, flossing is abandoned, and then since you’re not leaving the house anyway, you begin to brush even less. This is a sure path to oral health problems and, eventually, restorative dentistry.
The Oral Health Side Effects of SAD
Patients who take medication to help combat their seasonal affective disorder can be at a higher risk for oral health problems. Not only do they have SAD to contend with, they also have the side effects from antidepressants, which include dry mouth. When a person has a lack of saliva in their mouth, their teeth do not get washed off regularly enough, which can lead to plaque build-up and an increased risk of developing cavities.
The stress that can accompany depression also increases the level of cortisol in the body. This suppresses the immune system, allowing bacteria to thrive in the mouth, making a person far more susceptible to decay and infection. People are also more likely to develop illnesses in general, and that can contribute to poor oral health care.
Make Your Oral Health a Priority
If you are noticeably depressed, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your health. In the meantime, stay as active as possible and get as much daylight as you can. And be sure to keep brushing and see your general dentist at Hello Family Dental, serving Johns Creek, Suwanee, Alpharetta, and all the neighboring communities. Schedule your cleaning and checkup today. Take good care of yourself.