Oral health and mental wellness share significant connections 

Many of us experience a noticeable shift in our mood and overall well-being this time of year. In many cases, the culprit is the quickly decreasing amount of sunlight exposure that comes with the shorter days and longer nights of fall. You might be surprised to learn that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can impact your dental health as well as your attitude.

Seasonal affective disorder refers to the general lack of energy and gloomy, irritable attitudes that are more common as cloudy days and longer nights become the norm. This is especially prevalent for those of us in the northern part of the country. The sun is up only 8 hours and 49 minutes per day here in northeastern Wisconsin by the time we get to the winter solstice in December. That leaves many of us going to work in the dark and getting out of work in the dark.

Gum disease can have a negative impact on your mental health

Research has shown that inflammation in the body can have an adverse effect on mental health as well as physical health. This includes inflammation caused by gum disease (periodontitis). Dr. Craig Janssen and the Janssen Dental Clinic team provide treatment designed to reduce gum inflammation and protect structures below the surface. Of course, keeping up on your dental hygiene is an important first step in taking control of your overall health and attitude.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection, and your mouth is no different in its response to infection than any other part of your body. These infections can release harmful bacteria and toxins into your bloodstream, triggering an immune response that has the potential to affect your mood.

Oral health issues such as pain from toothaches and gum disease can lead to chronic discomfort. Persistent pain can interfere with your daily life by causing anxiety, stress, and potentially even depression. The shorter days of fall and winter make the task of keeping a smile on your face all the more important.

Give your body all of the “sunshine vitamin” D it needs

There are several simple steps you can take to counteract the challenges of sunshine deprivation. Vitamin D plays an important role in helping us maintain strong bones and a healthy immune system. It can even boost our mood.

Sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D, meaning the reduced exposure we have to natural sunlight during the fall and winter can lead to a deficiency. Try to spend some time outside during daylight hours to absorb all the natural sunlight you can, even on cloudy days. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks and nutritional supplements.

Light therapy, often administered through the use of a lightbox, can help minimize some of the symptoms of SAD. Lightboxes emit bright, white light that mimics natural sunlight. (Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate duration and intensity for you.)

Maintain your commitment to regular dental hygiene

Taking proactive steps to care for your oral health begins with a commitment to regular brushing, flossing and checkups with the Janssen Dental team. Make sure to drink plenty of water to maintain saliva production, which helps protect your teeth and gums, and limit sugary or acidic foods and drinks to further protect your teeth.

Maintaining a healthy combination of good oral hygiene, activity and a positive attitude will help you endure the darker months of the year when seasonal affective disorder casts a shadow on our mental well-being.

About Janssen Dental Clinic in Green Bay, Wisconsin 

Janssen Dental Clinic features the dental expertise of Dr. Craig Janssen, a third-generation dentist serving patients in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the surrounding area. Dr. Craig and his staff specialize in oral health as a component of overall well-being, a philosophy of care known as biological dentistry. They have expertise in reducing the fear and anxiety that people of all ages feel over going to the dentist, with services ranging from routine cleanings to restorative and cosmetic procedures. Call (920) 983-8383 to schedule an appointment. New patients are always welcome.