Chairside Connection: Mental health and the oral connection

Sept. 21, 2022
Mental health issues can complicate how someone cares for their oral health. How should dental pros approach patients with mental health struggles—and how do they deal with their own?

I had the opportunity to talk with oral-systemic expert Jo-Anne Jones, RDH, and Courtney Tracy, LCSW, PsyD, about how oral health and mental health are connected. As mental health continues to lose its stigma, research is increasing in this area.

To begin with, when someone is struggling with mental health issues, oral health care can fall by the wayside. It's difficult for someone to engage in daily living activities when they're simply trying to make it through each day.

Jo-Anne is working on new presentations about oral health and mental health. Chronic inflammatory disease has an impact on the brain. This is just one of the many areas in which we can educate patients and our peers.

Dr. Tracy mentions that many mental health medications can lead to oral side effects. Yet mental health professionals seldom ask their patients about the health of their mouth.

On the other side of that, dental professionals are hesitant to approach patients about their mental state, and whether it might be affecting their oral health.

Find out what else Jo-Anne, Dr. Tracy, and I cover in this eye-opening and timely discussion.

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About the Author

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, is the chief editor of DentistryIQ and editorial co-director of Through the Loupes. Based in Salem, Massachusetts, Dr. Maragliano-Muniz began her clinical career as a dental hygienist. She went on to attend Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she earned her doctorate in dental medicine. She then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dental Medicine, where she became board-certified in prosthodontics. Dr. Maragliano-Muniz owns a private practice, Salem Dental Arts, and lectures on a variety of clinical topics. You may contact her at [email protected].


Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, named chief editor of DentistryIQ