The Connection Between Depression and Bad Oral Health
Many people think that oral health can only be harmed by poor dental hygiene, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Teeth, gums, and other parts of your mouth are connected to the rest of your body the same way your nose and lungs are. That means that some diseases can affect your oral health even if they have nothing to do with poor dental hygiene and vice versa.
The most famous correlation is between diabetes and gum disease. You can brush and floss your teeth as much as you want, but if you have diabetes, you are more likely to contract gum infections and other similar diseases. It truly is fascinating how different parts of our body are interconnected. Even the most seemingly harmless problem in one part of your body can cause a reaction somewhere else. That’s why it’s no wonder that researchers have recently started studying these sorts of connections, which has led to some interesting discoveries.
During the last couple of years, more and more connections of this type have surfaced in the scientific world and one of the most interesting ones is the connection between depression and oral health – more specifically, how depression threatens our oral health.
First, let’s define what depression is. Science has pretty much confirmed that depression is an inflammatory disorder. That means that technically any source of inflammation, like being overweight for example, can lead to depression. Bear in mind that studies have not been conducted on every type of inflammation, so we can’t say with absolute certainty that one has to lead to another. However, since bad dental health is a source of inflammation, researchers have decided to check if there are any connections between these two. And let’s just say that their research has revealed some interesting findings.
In the results that were a part of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States, it can clearly be seen that bad dental hygiene and depression share an undeniable connection; about 60% of participants suffering from depression also had poor oral health.
As you can see, the connection is clear, but why and how this happens still isn’t. Researchers can’t pinpoint with certainty what comes first. Do people get bad teeth because of depression or is it the other way around? In our opinion, the right answer is too complicated to be answered easily and involves a lot of other factors.
There is another bit of research that has been done on this topic, but it was focused on depressed people and how often they go to the dentist – you can view the whole study here. Services like regular check-ups, adult orthodontics treatments, and any other type of oral health services were taken into consideration and the results were astounding. Not only did people with depression have worse dental health, but they also almost completely cut their visits to the dentist. As with the previous survey, it is not clear why exactly this is the way it is, but one can only assume from what we know about depression and how it affects our everyday life that participants simply didn’t have the willpower to do it.
As you can see, the connection is there, but what leads to what is still open to debate. Both depression and oral inflammation are complicated problems that should be taken seriously. If you are struggling with one, the chances are that you probably have some other health problems as well. The only way to fight this is by trying to focus on the good things. Do your best to live a healthy life, and of course, don’t be afraid to seek professional help if necessary.
Author Bio – Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time, she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.