As a general dentist in Aloha, Dr. Bronitsky provides all of her patients with the type of advanced dental care they need to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime.
In our blog, we’ve covered a variety of studies that demonstrates just how important a patient’s oral health is to their overall health. Decades worth of research has found compelling links between an individual’s oral health and their risk for developing a range of chronic health problems that include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, and now even depression.
A new study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research suggests a possible connection exists between patients who deal with chronic gingivitis and depression. The results of this latest study provide further evidence of just how interconnected an individual’s oral health is with their overall health.
Oral Health Linked to Mental Health
As we covered earlier, decades worth of research has examined the connection between an individual’s oral and physical health. However, far less research has gone into examining what impact poor oral health may have on an individual’s mental health.
To further explore a potential connection, researchers in the UK examined the medical records of patients 14 years and older who had previously received an initial diagnosis for chronic gingivitis. Researchers determined they would attempt to closely match the patients with chronic gum disease to those without gum disease by sex, age, and socioeconomic background.
Overall, the study included 6,544 patients who dealt with chronic gingivitis and 6,544 patients with healthy gums. In the study, 49 percent of the participants were women and the average age of all the patients was 40.3 years.
Of the study participants, 16.3 percent of those with chronic gum disease and 8.8 percent with healthy gums received a diagnosis for depression within 10 years of the study’s start.
After examining the data, researchers determined that a positive and significant association existed between chronic gum disease and depression within the participant group.
To step back and examine the study’s findings, you might think that researchers are saying that people with gum disease are more likely to develop depression. However, researchers say that such a clear cause and effect relationship would need more study to determine.
Alternative explanations exist that could help to shed more light on this potential connection.
For example, patient’s experiencing depression often place less importance on maintaining their personal grooming habits like brushing, flossing, and bathing. A patient may well start to decrease their daily hygiene habits before they become clinically depressed. Once in the grips of a depression, those patients may then pay little to no attention to habits like brushing and flossing they once engaged in daily.
In the end, patients will have neglected their oral health for months, which alone would make them far more susceptible to developing chronic gum disease.
Rather than viewing depression as a risk factor for gum disease, it’s more instructive to view gum disease and a potential warning sign for depression. If loved ones notice a family member taking less care and time when it comes their oral hygiene or bathing habits, that could signal an underlying issue is the root cause.
So while gum disease may not directly contribute to the development of depression, it does signify another connection between our oral and overall health. That’s why it always remains so important that patients schedule regular exams and cleanings with our general dentist in Aloha.