Depression is more common than some people think. Every year, around one million Australians are thought to experience depression, while approximately one in eight men and one in six women will experience depression at some point during their lives.
Although depression is a mood disorder, it can also have physical symptoms, and may lead to people neglecting their physical health for periods of time. This can include not looking after their oral health, and research suggests that poor oral health may also be linked to depression.
Seeking support for depression is the first step towards possible treatment. With Wednesday 10th October being World Mental Health Day, dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues around the world, Freedom Dental is highlighting the importance of taking care of your oral health for both your physical and mental wellbeing.
What causes depression?
Depression can be complex, and trying to identify a single cause or causes is not always straightforward. For many people, depression can involve a combination of factors, ranging from genetics to personality, life experiences and physical health.
Depression has been observed to run in families, although that doesn’t mean you’re fated to experience depression if any of your relatives have it. Certain personality traits are also associated with a higher risk of depression, and difficult life experiences such as bereavement, separation, unemployment and being diagnosed with an illness can also trigger or contribute to depression in some people.
Depression can be considered as an inflammatory disorder, which means that biological factors may also contribute to the processes involved in depression. This may include certain medical conditions, side-effects of medical treatments ormedication, being overweight, poor nutrition,and drug or alcohol abuse. There is also some evidence that poor oral health may be linked with depression.
How to look after your oral health
Whether or not maintaining good oral hygiene can lower your risk of depression, it’s still recommended to help prevent dental diseases and their related health effects. Dentists recommend that you: 
- brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, brushing for around two minutes each time
- replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months
- floss between your teeth every day to help remove food and plaque trapped in the gaps
- drink lots of water throughout the day, especially during exercise or in the heat
- cut down on sugary, starchy or acidic food and drinks
- avoid smoking, drinking excessive alcohol and drug use
- visit your dentist for regular check-ups and professional teeth cleaning
- talk to your doctor if antidepressants or other medication may be causing dry mouth
Where can I get help?
If you think you or someone you know may have depression, seeking help as soon as possible will improve your chance of getting treatment and beginning to recover sooner.
Treatment and management of depression depends on the individual, and requires discussion with an appropriately qualified health professional. Talking to your GP or visiting your local community health centre is a good starting point, as they may be able to refer you to a specialist who can help you.
There are also charities and other organisations you can talk to for more information, support or to discuss how you feel. In Australia, these include:
Do you need to see a dentist in Melbourne?
If you’re due for a check-up and clean, or you want to talk a dentist about your oral health, get in touch with our friendly team at Freedom Dental near Melbourne CBD. Our staff will give you a warm welcome and we’ll make sure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions about your health.
Call us on 03 9828 3888 or book an appointmentonline and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
 Better Health Channel. Depression [Online] 2018 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/depression
 A O’Neil, M Berk, K Venugopal, SW Kim, LJ Williams and FN Jacka. The association between poor dental health and depression: findings from a large-scale, population-based study (the NHANES study) in General Hospital Psychiatry 2014 May-Jun;36(3):266-70. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2014.01.009. Epub 2014 Jan 31. [Online] 2014 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24636212
 Healthdirect. Dental care [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-care