Can Depression Undermine Your Oral Health?

Young Woman Biting Her Finger NailDid you know that tooth loss is linked to anxiety and depression? You heard correctly; that means that taking care of your teeth protects more than just your physical well-being, but also, your mental state.

These findings were concluded based on a study that was presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research, which occurred in March of this past year, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The American Association for Dental Research is a non-profit organization composed of nearly 3,500 members. Its mission is stated as, “to advance research and increase knowledge for the improvement of oral health, to support  and represent the oral health research community, and to facilitate the communication and application of research findings.”

In the study, researchers examined a potential association of tooth loss with depression and anxiety.The study was conducted using The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey, a complex, telephone survey the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments administer. Researchers focused on the 292 eligible participants, people who were 19 years old and up, who had answered questions pertaining to depression, anxiety, and tooth loss out of the overall 451,075 respondents who participated in the survey in 2010,

13.4 percent of of this eligible group of participants reported anxiety, 16.7 percent reported depression, and 5.7 percent reported tooth loss.

Demographics of the participants included the group being evenly split between males and females, with 68.7 percent of the participants being non-Hispanic whites, 12.7 percent were African American, 12.5 percent were Hispanics, and 6.8 percent reported being other. Further analysis of this selected group of participants confirmed initial thoughts that depression and/or anxiety were significantly related to tooth loss, when compared with participants who had not reported themselves as having depression or anxiety symptoms.

The study was overseen by Dr. R. Constant Weiner, a professor at West Virginia University. Her findings concluded that several biopsychosocial factors influenced a person’s dental health. What are “biopsychosocial factors”? This all-encompassing term is as an expression for all factors, embracing biological, psychological, and societal influences, that result in a scenario, such as tooth loss. Dr. R. Constance Wiener noted that prominent  biopsychosocial factors that resulted in tooth loss were the relative presence or lack of feelings of self worth and self-esteem, as well as a lack of access to dental care.

What are the reasons for this connection? People who suffer from anxiety may avoid dental care, and people who suffer from depression are often negligent in self-care, which includes dental care. It is a chicken-or-the-egg scenario to try and determine whether depression, and its related lack of self-care, leads to tooth loss, or whether tooth loss leads to a loss of self-esteem that results in depression and anxiety. Either/or, the relation between depression/anxiety and tooth loss is significant enough to garner attention.

If you’re suffering from tooth loss, there is help available. At Wellesley Dental Group, we offer dental implants, which are beautiful and fully functional. We offer a caring, non judgemental environment where our focus is on your health and happiness. No matter the current state of your teeth, there is a place for you at our office. Our Dr. Ali is a renowned cosmetic dentist who can help you have a smile you’ll be confident showing off. Rest assured, you’ll be happy with your results! If there is anything we can do at all to take care of your oral health, please call 781-237-9071 or email to set up an appointment for consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Kim. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.




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