How Childrens’ Mental Health Disorders Affect Their Oral Health

When it comes to maintaining good oral health for your child, you are not alone. We are here to help!

Mental health affects the health of the entire body, including oral health. Children with mental health disorders are more likely to suffer from oral health conditions such as cavities and gum disease. Oral health affects more than just the teeth and mouth. It has an impact on a person’s physical and mental health.

If your child suffers from a mental health disorder, we understand how challenging it is to take care of their physical needs. At the Dental Anesthesia Center in St. Louis, we specialize in working with children with special needs, thanks to our years of experience. When it comes to maintaining good oral health for your child, you are not alone. We are here to help!

Types of Mental Health Disorders

Children can develop the same mental health disorders as adults, but their symptoms may be different. Mental health is the overall wellness of how a person thinks, regulates their feelings and behavior. In children, mental health disorders are generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, social skills, behaviors, or regulation of emotions.

Some of the most common mental health disorders in children include, but are not limited to:

  • ADHD – Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • ASD – Autism spectrum disorder
  • Depression or other mood disorders
  • PTSD – Post-traumatic stress disorder

How Mental Health Affects Oral Health

A child’s mental and oral health are more closely connected than you may realize. Mental illness can lead to certain coping disorders that hurt their oral health.

Children with mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety may engage in behaviors or have other issues caused by their illness that adversely affect oral health; some of these include:

  • Loss of appetite – which leads to poor nutrition
  • Dental anxiety
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks like brushing teeth
  • Dry mouth
  • Drinking or eating too many sugary beverages or food
  • Low energy

Anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders can make a child feel like not eating. On the other hand, it might make them crave sugary drinks and treats. Both can cause poor nutrition and lead to tooth decay and cavities. Poor nutrition may also lower calcium levels which can weaken the enamel on the teeth. Eating disorders such as bulimia cause stomach acid to erode teeth and also lead to poor nutrition.

Some medications used to treat mental health disorders can cause dry mouth as a side effect. A dry mouth can increase a person’s risk of developing gum disease.

Special Needs Dentistry

Children with special needs require special dental attention. Everyone has the same need to maintain positive oral health to remain healthy overall. The Dental Anesthesia team is compassionate and here to help patients accomplish dental care that they need. We’ve been working with special needs patients for over 30 years. We understand what it is like to work with children and adults with mental health disorders in St. Louis, and that is why it is our goal to provide the most comfortable experience possible.

Call Us Today

The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologist in Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.

Call (314) 862-7844
Updated: August 31, 2023

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