A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

The Dental Voice for Mental Health

The Dental Voice for Mental Health

August 30, 2010

In 2008, Lisa Knapp Stillman shared her personal story of caring for her twenty-four year old son with severe mental illness (SMI). Of all of the struggles she has faced, she emphasized the effect of his illness on his oral health:

“Within one year of my son’s diagnosis, after taking the prescribed medications, his teeth began to disintegrate. Because his medications caused him to have dry mouth coupled with the negative symptoms of his SMI, his teeth developed severe decay that led to over $15,000 in dental reconstruction. We were fortunate that we could provide dental treatment for him, whereas many others with SMI are not that fortunate and consequently lose their teeth.”

After several years of hard work, Ms. Stillman has created the “Dental Voice for Mental Health” project with her sister. The goal is to increase awareness of oral health needs for people receiving mental health treatment, as “mental health care recipients are being left out in the cold when it comes to oral and dental health.”

This project is just one of many that demonstrates how oral health is a critical part of overall health. Ms. Stillman has done a fantastic job of using her voice to speak up for oral health. For more information on how you can be part of this movement, please visit www.hcfama.org/oralhealth.
-Christine Keeves