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Mental Illness And Oral Health Care


Individuals living with mental illness are prone to oral diseases because their oral healthcare has often been neglected. Such neglect is a consequence of the low priority given to oral care regimes by these individuals and their families. The severity of mental illness from minor distress to severe disorder of mind and behaviour also play a role in the oral health status. In addition, oral hygiene status is also related to the living conditions either they live dependently or independently and at home or in an institution..

Types of mental illness


Oral problems associated with mental illness



Teeth erosion from constant acid reflux (bulimia)
  A patient living with HIV and major depression disorder presented with rampant caries and gum swelling


Behavioural problems related to individuals with mental illness

Individuals living with mental illness are often perceived as having behavioural problems. Understanding behavioural problems and their oral health impacts will allow dentists to plan and discuss treatment options. Successful dental treatment outcomes may hopefully motivate all parties to maintain good oral health for the benefit of their general health.

These are the behavioural problems which could be related to individuals with mental illness:-

  • Inconsistent moods
  • Lack of interest
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor motivation towards self-care
  • Fear and anxiety of dental treatment
  • Poor compliance, missing and late cancellation of dental appointment


Important advice




Coping with dental treatment

If you cannot cope with the regular dental treatment at the dental chair-side, there are other treatment options

  • Nitrous oxide sedation (Laughing gas)
  • Oral sedation
  • General Anaesthesia



Oral Health Care for People with Mental Health Problems Guidelines and Recommendations (2000) British Society for Disability And Oral Health


Last Reviewed : 9 June 2014
Writer : Dr. Norjehan bt. Yahaya