Recent studies have shown a connection between depression and oral health. Depression is a disease that affects a person’s ability to cope with day-to-day life and decreases their motivation for self-care. Needless to say, activities such as brushing teeth, flossing and trips to the dentist can fall by the wayside. During a study at Deakin University, researchers found almost two thirds of participants reporting depression (61 per cent) also reported having an aching mouth in the past year and more than half (57.4 per cent) considered their teeth to be in fair or poor condition.
Depression is considered an inflammatory disorder. Sources of inflammation such as bad dietary habits, being overweight or the presence of other medical conditions can contribute to the biological processes that induce mental disorders. It can be tough to pinpoint which issue arises first.
As Dr. Neil of Deakin University stated, “The relationship between dental health and depression is not well understood, with previous studies investigating poor dental health as a by-product of depression, rather than a precursor.”
One physical symptom of depression is reduced flow of saliva, which can also lead to an increase in dry mouth, pathogen bacteria and, therefore, tooth decay. Unfortunately, many anti-depressant drugs also contribute to this problem.
A decrease of the hormone serotonin can impair taste perception meaning that one will crave sweet foods and foods high in carbohydrates. Together with the reduced oral care, issues with tooth decay are much more frequent.
There is still more to be discovered about the relationship between mental and oral health. Regardless, if you are concerned about either issue, visit your healthcare provider now.