Social Isolation And Loneliness Bite Dental Health Badly – Is There A Pill For That?

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  4. Social Isolation And Loneliness Bite Dental Health Badly – Is There A Pill For That?
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  4. Social Isolation And Loneliness Bite Dental Health Badly – Is There A Pill For That?
Social Isolation And Loneliness Bite Dental Health Badly Is There A Pill For That In Diggers Rest Dental House

It has long been recognised by science that the feeling of loneliness is responsible for more than just scraping a piece of toast with jam for dinner and adopting a lacklustre approach to personal hygiene.

Loneliness is not simply about being alone – for some it’s the preferred state of being. More than just having had an unfortunate day of feeling ignored or overridden, where normal networks have felt made of more holes than net, feeling lonely is a state of mind.

It’s the distressing sensation of being disconnected from others, or separate from those with whom emotional security is perceptively reliant. Loneliness has little to do with being alone: it’s a conscious, cognitive feeling of being estranged from meaningful bonds and a lack of self-identifable place in the world. In this dynamic is the chasm between present social relationships, and desired ones; whether past, or never actuated.

Isolation is not interchangeable. It is much more objective. Isolation is defined as interacting or engaging with few people whilst still having companionship needs met. Some people have less need for social interaction than others, and what they have sufficiently evokes feelings of being loved, valued and understood.

Counterintuitively, loneliness often leads to further withdrawal from the mesh of family and community, as relationships can appear threateningly dissatisfying. All that can be managed is the wearying treading of emotional water.

Relationships, social connectedness and a place in community are central to thriving as a human being.

Freedom and autonomy are also important values – and not so achievable when loneliness is the overstaying houseguest. Overwhelming aloneness commandeers the remote from happiness, eats the meals left for life purpose, and has any sense of mastery forced to sleep uncomfortably on the lounge.

It makes exercise take a back seat in an unmoving vehicle.

Loneliness triggers stress hormones that in turn lower immunity.

Studies show that after experiencing this lack of heartfelt involvement for four years or more, there’s an increase in blood pressure that cannot be attributed to other causes. Problem solving and memory becomes less automatic. A loss of mental acuity opens the opportunity for Alzheimer’s.

And the list goes on.

There can be alcohol and drug abuse, weight gain, diabetes, smoking, anxiety and depression. Overall poor cardiovascular health is the picture of sadness drawn by the stubby pencil of a broken heart.

New studies also found that coupled with social isolation, it’s detrimental to oral health. Compared to socially fulfilled adults, loneliness suffers lose more than two natural teeth, with almost one-and-a-half times the rate of further tooth loss. There is a higher incidence of gum disease which can lead to more missing teeth.

This impact on oral health significantly alters nutritional intake, clarity of speech and self-esteem. These are basic life quality requirements that are important for longevity.

Undeniably, a strong support system is as necessary as air, water, food and shelter. It helps maintain healthy behaviours. Evolution has instilled connection as a primary source.

The combination of loneliness and isolation has an extraordinarily negative impact on general wellbeing and oral hygiene with all roads leading to systemic inflammation. It’s really useful to be able to at least see one person twice a year: your dentist. There is such clear correlation between dental health and mental health, it’s the best promise you can make to yourself when it feels like nobody else is listening.

Much like the way in which high-calorific foods have now become a existence torture rather than a survival tool, the once adaptive device of loneliness has become so misaligned with modern living it’s epidemic in proportion.

Over previous generations it simply wasn’t measured because it wasn’t prevalent.

Maybe there were fewer expectations on what life provides rather than what is sought from it.

Certainly social media wasn’t there to misrepresent and detract.

Families were more extended, less nuclear, less fractured and rarely completely estranged. It was more likely that you lived close to where you worked, and that in the Venn diagram of social contacts and connection there was notable intersection.

People knew people in their suburb other than immediate neighbours. Now it’s uncommon to even know those who live either side, or above or below you unless there have been noise complaints, and Airbnb hasn’t taken over like the plague that it is.

More than ever before, people live alone.

Partnerships and children are an optional component of the life plan for many, and it could be that ‘the more the more’ zeitgeist has fundamentally left us with less.

Could be, that the more connected one is to interactive technology, the less connected life becomes. Software has dissolved the inconvenience and untidiness of dealing with other human beings.

Maybe the ‘social M’ is a mobocracy, tiered by ultracrepidarians.

Chronic loneliness is not only a terrible place to be, it places terrible failures of function on human physiology.

All On 4 Two Years On And More How Are Patients Feeling About It? At Diggers Rest, Caroline Springs, Hillside, Taylors Lake And Sydenham In Diggers Rest Dental House

Unlike anxiety and depression, it has no recognised clinical form; thereby rendering it unable to be helped by medication – which is the reason for a continuing body of research in search of a quantifiable cure.

A number of clinical trials target the process the brain goes through under the prolonged experience of loneliness, and the unleashed chaos on the central nervous system.

Essentially, the signals that impel interacting with others, are interfered with by dysfunctional perceptions of danger.

Biologically, the neurosteroid pregnenolone (what an interesting ultima there) eases brain hypervigilence to social threat exposure. Isolated mice show decreased levels of this regulator, which also occurs in lonely people. Oral doses of a compound derivative have a calming effect on the almygdala and insula – the brain regions responsible for threat detection, anticipation response, and emotional recall.

Similar results can be achieved with some antidepressants, but they often come with the counterproductive side effects of insomnia, nausea or fatigue.

There is cautious optimism that medication to increase pregnenolone can remedy the feedback loop of loneliness and negative response. Exercise certainly helps, but it has only moderate influence – which is still better than doing nothing at all.

A more recent, small study of only eighteen participants, pinpoints MDMA as a potential tool in the treatment of loneliness.

Probably better known as the recreational party-popper ‘ecstasy’ or ‘molly’, early research finds that in combination with therapy, it could produce connectedness for those combatting the chronic sense of social and emotional dislocation.

For anyone who’s ever taken it, it’s unlikely for this to be surprising news.

In 2017 MDMA-assisted therapy cleared clinical trials in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the US and was approved in Australia in February 2023. Its usefulness is its ability to induce a state of plasticity, where the space for change presents the option for other perceptions and behavioural responses to take place.

However, even when in a medically controlled setting, circumspection is required.

The translation of how these higher-order emotions like empathy, affinity and inclusion happen, is largely enigmatic – regardless of the scientific understanding of which receptors and neurotransmitters are affected.

And although the impact of MDMA on blood pressure and heart rate is low, there could be vexing psychological effects. Research volunteers are routinely screened for any psychological disorders.

As a sobering thought, recreational users experience jaw pain and related issues, as well as 60% of them having tooth wear that progresses beyond enamel and into underlying bone – found in only 11% of those who don’t take it.

It’s lonely being lonely. While it’s wildly encouraging that there could soon be a pill for that, it’s dispiriting to have created a world that needs one.

Loneliness is real, and the help that’s so hard to ask for, can make it managable. With apologies to ‘60s counterculture guru Timothy Leary, maybe it’s time for another Human Be-In where we turn off, tune out, drop in.

Note: All content and media on the  Sunbury Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

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