21 Jun How Depression and Anxiety Can Lead to Tooth Loss
The number of Americans that experience depression and anxiety disorders is not only alarmingly large, but it is growing on a yearly basis. In the United States, 40 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders, the highest mental illness in the nation. Depression is commonly associated with anxiety disorders, affecting 1 out of every 10 Americans with more than 80 percent of those suffering from clinical depression going untreated.
Although there are numerous detrimental symptoms and affects of clinical depression, one of them lies in the area of oral health. Earlier this year, a study out of West Virginia University, Morgantown entitled “Association of Tooth Loss and Depression and Anxiety” was presented. The outcome of the study revealed that depression and anxiety were directly linked to tooth loss in affected patients.
It has been revealed through other studies that chronic and complex health issues are often linked to poor oral health such as gingivitis (inflamed gums), caries (tooth decay) and periodontitis (severe deterioration of the gums). However, in this study, Dr. R. Constance Wiener went a step further to show the direct link of depression and anxiety on tooth loss using data gleaned from the complex telephone survey system known as BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System). The results of data from over 80,000 adults spanning 16 states were used in the analyses.
It was found that adults suffering from depression and anxiety disorders were more likely to avoid good oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing and flossing. The same group was also less apt to make regular, or any, visits to dental professionals leaving any oral health problems undetected and untreated. Avoidance of personal and professional dental care means that those suffering from depression or anxiety disorders are much more likely to develop serious dental problems that result in the loss of one or more teeth.
The results of the study are quite eye-opening. There are 32 teeth in the adult human mouth. It was found that a significant increase in tooth loss was present in those suffering from depression and anxiety compared to those who do not. Ninety-five percent elevations were found across the board in three categories: those having 1-5 teeth removed, those having 6-31 teeth removed and those having all 32 teeth removed.
This study reveals the importance of continuing good oral health practices, including regular dental visits, regardless of being in a state of depression or suffering from other types of anxiety disorders.
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This article is part of our blog series, “The Deadly Consequences of Poor Dental Care“
International & American Associations for Dental Research. “Tooth loss linked to depression, anxiety.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320111903.htm>.