The surprising connection between tooth loss and depression

A new study from West Virginia University, finds there are strong links between tooth loss, depression and anxiety.

Study leaders say what goes on in people’s minds has a direct effect on their dental health. The findings show that people who report having “dental anxiety,” tend to avoid regular checkups and cleanings. Additionally, those with depression are often negligent with self-care.

The report was given at the recent 43rd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR).

Study leaders used data from a telephone survey of more than 450,000 people taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state health departments for the study. From that group, researchers wanted to identify all those who were 19 years or older and reported having depression, anxiety and tooth loss to be eligible for the study.

They found that of the 76,000 eligible participants, 13.4 percent reported anxiety, 16.7 percent had depression and 5.7 percent reported tooth loss. The sample was balanced between race, gender and ethnic background. They concluded that both anxiety and depression are linked with tooth loss.

The connection between dental and mental health isn’t the only strategic link between teeth and overall well-being.

A recent study in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who have periodontal disease are also at greater risk for systemic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

“It’s important for people to understand that good dental hygiene can have a direct and positive impact on their health,” says Dr. Harvey Wigdor, chairman of the Department of Dentistry at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “The benefits of brushing and flossing go far beyond just having healthy teeth.”

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