Dental / Social Anxiety Disorder Connection

About 4 million adult Americans suffer from SAD during the course of a year. It most often begins in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood. It is more common in women than in men.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated unpleasant feelings and worry about everyday life events. People with symptoms of SAD tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about job security, health, money, relationships, family, work or school. Those who have social anxiety disorder, possess an intense fear of embarrassing themselves. Often their fear is so intense that they go to great lengths to avoid situations that would trigger it.

In people with social anxiety disorder or sometimes referred to as social phobia, the worry often is unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of uneasiness, fear, worry and dread. Eventually, the anxiety dominates the person’s thinking and begins interfering with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities and relationships.

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

The exact cause of SAD is not fully known, but a number of factors — including genetics, brain chemistry, environmental stresses, infections (viruses, bacterial, fungal), heavy metal toxicity, chemical toxicity appear to contribute to its development.

In a research article published by the Environmental Working Group, 2005, they found on average 287 chemicals present in the blood of new born babies at birth. It is this author’s opinion that further exposure to environmental chemicals plus childhood immunizations pushes the body’s adaptive capacity beyond its limits. The end result is more advanced diseases at younger ages. The mental component is also partially due to the chemical build-up.

  • Genetics: Some research suggests that family history plays a part in increasing the likelihood that a person will develop SAD. This means that the tendency to develop SAD may be passed on in families.
  • Brain chemistry: SAD has been associated with abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are special chemical messengers that help move information from nerve cell to nerve cell. If the neurotransmitters are out of balance, messages cannot get through the brain properly. This can alter the way the brain reacts in certain situations, leading to anxiety.
  • Environmental factors: Trauma and stressful events, such as abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, may lead to SAD. SAD also may become worse during periods of stress. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, can also worsen anxiety.
  • Infections: Infections in the mouth (infected root canal teeth, infections in the jawbone from previously extracted teeth, infections under old fillings, periodontal or gum infections) provide a reservoir of toxic substances, which filter through the lymphatic or drainage system and concentrate within the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland contributes much to the mental health of the patient. Disturbed function can result in depression, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, voices in the head and insomnia.
  • Heavy metals: Mercury from amalgam dental fillings leaks out 24/7 and gets transported via the lymphatic drainage system to the thyroid. Other heavy metals like aluminum from underarm deordorant, foil, cooking pots and pans and antacids also can concentrate in the thyroid. Lead in lipstick and hair dyes. Arsnic in lettuce and chickens. Cadmium in candy, refined cereals, cigarette smoke, coffee and tea, marijuana, welding materials, soft drinks and processed foods.
  • Chemicals: Dioxins: a class of chemical contaminants that are formed during combustion processes such as waste incineration, forest fires, and backyard trash burning, as well as during some industrial processes such as paper pulp bleaching and herbicide manufacturing; PCB’s (Polychloronated Biphenyls): Industrial insulators and lubricants., Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): Pollutants from burning gasoline and garbage; Organochlorine pesticides (OCs): DDT, chlordane and other pesticides., Polychlorinated Naphthalenes (PCNs): Wood preservatives, varnishes, machine lubricating oils, waste incineration; and Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs): Active ingredients or breakdown products of Teflon, Scotchgard, fabric and carpet protectors, food wrap coatings; Polybrominated dibenzodioxins and furans: Contaminants in brominated flame retardants. Pollutants and byproducts from plastic production and incineration.

Triggers for social anxiety disorder (social phobia)

The following situations are often stressful for people with social anxiety disorder:

  • Meeting new people
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Making small talk
  • Public speaking
  • Performing on stage
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Talking with “important” people or authority figures
  • Being called on in class
  • Going on a date
  • Making phone calls
  • Using public bathrooms
  • Taking exams.
  • Eating or drinking in public
  • Speaking up in a meeting
  • Attending parties or other social gatherings

Psychological symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD)

  • Irritability
  • Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation.
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you don’t know.
  • Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations.
  • Fear that you’ll act in ways that that will embarrass or humiliate yourself.
  • Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous.
  • Avoidance of social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life.
  • Excessive, ongoing worry and tension

Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder (social phobia)

  • Nausea
  • Pounding heart or tight chest
  • Shaky voice
  • Tiredness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Upset stomach, nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Muscle tension
  • Being easily startled
  • Blushing
  • Dizziness, feeling faint
  • The need to go to the bathroom frequently
  • Clammy hands
  • Twitching
  • Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”
  • Headaches

Medication for social anxiety disorder (social phobia)

Medication is sometimes used to relieve the symptoms of social anxiety, but it’s not a cure for social anxiety disorder or social phobia. If you stop taking medication, your symptoms will probably return full force. Medication is considered most helpful when used in addition to therapy and other self-help techniques that address the root cause of social anxiety disorder.

Three types of medication are used in the treatment of social anxiety disorder (social phobia):

  • Beta blockers — Beta blockers are used for relieving performance anxiety. They work by blocking the flow of adrenaline that occurs when you’re anxious. While beta blockers don’t affect the emotional symptoms of anxiety, they can control physical symptoms such as shaking hands or voice, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
  • Antidepressants — Antidepressants can be helpful when social anxiety disorder is severe and debilitating. Three specific antidepressants Paxil, Effexor, and Zoloft have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of social phobia.
  • Benzodiazepines — Benzodiazepines are fast-acting anti-anxiety medications. However, they are sedating and addictive, so they are typically prescribed only when other medications for social phobia have not worked.

If you’re suffering from major depression, antidepressant medication may relieve some of your symptoms. Antidepressants aren’t a silver bullet for depression, and they come with their own side effects and dangers. Plus, recent studies have raised questions about their effectiveness.

Learning the facts about antidepressants and weighing the benefits against the risks can help you make an informed and personal decision about whether medication is right for you.

It has been this author’s clinical experience that many mental problems experienced today are the result of chemicals passing through the brain disrupting normal function and also dysfunction of the thyroid due to faulty nutrition and toxins from the oral cavity. Until conventional medicine starts evaluating these causative factors millions of patients will be missed diagnosed and wrongfully treated. The following case is a perfect example of the shortfall of “modern medicine.”

My nutritionist referred me to Dr. Smith. I was diagnosed as having severe social anxiety for my entire life along with depression. I was placed on anti-depressant drugs for years with no success. I also tried conventional therapies for many years with no results. Dr. Smith diagnosed that I had a streptococcal infection in one of my molar teeth. The toxins produced by the strep infection had migrated to my thyroid. Dr. Smith also discovered that the aluminum from my underarm deodorant had migrated into my thyroid. My treatment consisted of stopping the use of deodorant containing aluminum, taking natural vitamin supplements to boost my immune system and use of bio-frequencies to kill the strep infection in my tooth. Within two days of starting this therapy I felt a release of my anxiety. I have been on Dr. Smith’s supplement protocol for a few weeks and have seen a major improvement in my anxiety and mood.

Jennifer B.

Dr. Gerald H. Smith

About The Author

Dr. Gerald H. Smith is certified by the World Organization for Natural Medicine to practice natural medicine globally. He is also a certified dental practitioner. His broad base of post-graduate training in dentistry and natural medicine enabled him to integrate many health care specialties.


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