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Oral health and mental health

Our position

  • Increased awareness of the effect of eating disorders on oral health to improve guidance and referral pathways.
  • Oral health assessments in an appropriate environment to be provided as standard to all those diagnosed with a mental health condition or substance misuse issue.
  • The impact of poor oral health on mental health, from bullying about appearance to isolation caused by issues eating in public, to be more widely understood and oral health to be included in local health plans about mental health and substance misuse.

What is the problem?

  • Those with mental health conditions are more likely to engage in behaviours which will negatively affect their oral health, such as smoking, alcohol misuse, substance misuse and other activities.
  • People experiencing severe mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or depression may be at greater risk of self-neglect. This may result in preventable decay, increasing isolation, malnutrition and negative perceptions of the self.
  • Increased social anxiety as a result of self-consciousness about oral appearance, or increased isolation because of oral pain, appearance or discomfort is a possible effect of not accessing oral healthcare.
  • Eating disorders can have a severe effect on oral health, especially acid erosion from a reliance on sugary drinks and from emesis.
  • The current contractual arrangements do not support full integration in the community and the community dental services require increased investment to provide a broader range of care.