How your dental health can affect your mood

Life isn’t always plain sailing (here’s looking at you 2020) and everyone feels down from time to time, but when you just can’t put your finger on what’s wrong and you’ve been feeling disinterested and unmotivated for a while then it might be time to take stock of your dental health. Even dental nurses and professionals can be guilty of forgetting to look after ourselves dental health can have a real impact on your wellbeing.

Let’s take a look at the link between chronic inflammation in the mouth and depression.

dental mood

There’s been a lot of talk of late regarding the link between gut health and depression. ‘Evidence indicates that major depression is accompanied by increased translocation of gut commensal Gram-negative bacteria (leaky gut) and consequent activation of oxidative and nitrosative (O&NS) pathways.’ (Gomes et al., 2018) The gut is said to be the “Second Brain” and if we can keep it happy then apparently, we can make a positive step towards keeping our heads happy too.

However, a recent study looked at the link between depression and inflammation in the mouth from conditions like periodontitis and the toxins released in root canal treated teeth. The study found that increased root canal endotoxin levels accompanied with chronic apical periodontitis may cause depression and a lowered quality of life. (Gomes et al., 2018)

Sometimes we can’t avoid having root canal treatment (no matter how much you plead with your dentist!), so what can we do to minimise the risk of ‘leaky teeth’ (Gomes et al., 2018) and keep our mouth and brain happy?

Well, before we even get to the root canal stage it’s vital to keep any potential inflammation in the mouth in check. You may have been lucky enough to never experience bleeding gums when brushing your teeth but this is one of the first signs that something may be going awry in your mouth.

dental mood
dental mental health

This localised inflammation is an early stage sign of gingivitis and if left untreated for a long period of time can lead to the more serious periodontitis. As you may have read in some of our other posts, periodontitis can cause inflammation markers in the body to rise and lead to other conditions.

You know from experience (think back to when you last had a terrible cold) that inflammation in the body can leave you feeling weak and unmotivated. Luckily with a cold, this usually only lasts a short time but with inflammation in the mouth going unchecked, unfavourable symptoms could go on for a long time. You can start to see how reducing inflammation in the body is a good step toward improving overall wellbeing both physically and mentally. It’s always best to get anything suspicious when it comes to your mouth and teeth checked out sooner rather than later.

Of course, it can lead to a vicious circle, when you’re feeling depressed self-care is often very low on your list of priorities and brushing your teeth may even feel like too much. This can lead to further inflammation build up and rapidly deteriorating mouth conditions; so it’s really important we take good care of oral hygiene for both body and mind. Remember everybody reacts to stressors in their own unique way so it’s not a given that inflammation in the mouth is directly going to lead to depression, but it’s always good to make keeping on top of your dental health a priority. Regular visits to the dentist can give you peace of mind that any inflammation is in check and that your mouth and teeth are in a happy state.


Gomes, C., Martinho, F. C., Barbosa, D. S., Antunes, L. S., Póvoa, H., Baltus, T., Morelli, N. R., Vargas, H. O., Nunes, S., Anderson, G., & Maes, M. (2018). ‘Increased Root Canal Endotoxin Levels are Associated with Chronic Apical Periodontitis, Increased Oxidative and Nitrosative Stress, Major Depression, Severity of Depression, and a Lowered Quality of Life.’ Molecular neurobiology, 55(4), 2814–2827.

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