A new study published by the Karolinska Institute concludes that anxiety, stress, and long-term depression can add up to oral hygiene difficulties and therefore early loss of teeth. Between 15 and 30 percent of Swedes suffer from periodontitis, a severe gum disease that is the largest cause of tooth loss in adults.
Annsofi Johannsen, who has conducted four studies on the topic, says: “Certain people have plaque and inflamed gums without suffering periodontitis, but others suffer the chronic problems. It could be that depression reduces the immune system so that poor dental hygiene habits lead to reduced oral health and more inflamed gums.”
Johannsen believes her study could help treat dental patients better.
“Unfortunately, however, you don’t talk about your mental health with your dentist or hygienist these days. We should pay better attention to that side of things,” she says.
Participants who answered yes to the question: “Do you feel anxious in your everyday life?” were more likely to have dental problems than those who answered “no.”
Johannsen’s is the first study connecting psychological health with oral health.