Oral health and depression: The connection, explained by your biological dentist of Dothan, AL
Posted By Dr Nathan Pfister
Brushing your teeth and visiting your friendly biological and holistic dentist not only keeps your smile healthy and attractive, but research indicates that quality oral care can help to prevent depression. The connection of depression and your oral health in Dothan at Biodentist Alabama isn’t overstated; studies going back to at least the 1960s and spanning subjects in several countries have determined that oral disease and depression coexist and are frequent comorbidities. Dr. Nathan Pfister and Dr. Brian Pfister consider the “whole person” when recommending preventive, diagnostic, and restorative services, which is of vital importance as research substantiates the interconnectedness between organs, tissues, and other bodily structures.
Depression and gum disease
Periodontal or gum disease has many “non-oral” risk factors, including genetics, smoking, and the emotional element -- stress and sadness. The association between depression and gum disease is largely characterized as:
Behavioral – The loss of motivation and interest that defines depression can negatively affect hygiene. Depressed patients who forgo routine, professional dental visits and good oral care at home, put their gums at increased risk of developing periodontal disease. Also, depressed patients tend to find solace in smoking, drinking, and other unhealthy habits. Tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are risk factors for gum disease.
Biological – Several studies indicated depression and stress modify the body’s immune response, which makes depressed or stressed-out people more prone to other unhealthy medical conditions that impact gum health. Other research suggests a disturbance in the brain among depressed people releases cortisol and other hormones that contribute to the development of periodontal disease and its progression from mild, reversible gingivitis to destructive, chronic periodontitis.
A study first featured in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology found that patients with gum disease had a significantly higher total depression score on Beck Depression Inventory (a prevalent screening measure) than the “normal” control group with healthy gums. In fact, researchers found a direct correlation between the severity of depression and severity of periodontal disease; the higher a patient scored on the depression inventory, the more pronounced his or her symptoms of gum disease were. The study’s authors contend that assessments related to depression are valuable tools in the modern dental practices (such as Biodentist Alabama) that emphasize personalized diagnostics, treatment planning, and perio-maintenance.
Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting itself, removing harmful invaders and stimulating the healing process. So, acute inflammation is a sign that your body is successfully fending off infections. Chronic inflammation is a different story, as it is linked to chronic disease. Persistent, untreated oral inflammation can alter the flow of blood to the brain and lead to cognitive and emotional changes. There is no denying the brain-immune system connection. Research indicates that:
The “brain states” linked to mental illness are vulnerable to inflammation
Inflammation itself tends to produce depression, anxiety, and other psychosocial conditions
Inflammatory processes can induce changes in bodily and brain function that contribute to the onset of psychiatric conditions
In fact, inflammation is a common denominator among patients with a range of mental illnesses not limited to depression, including obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. Like oral conditions, psychiatric conditions are associated with several risk factors; partly, the life circumstances surrounding the onset of the inflammatory event, and the individual’s genetic predisposition toward mental illness. Resolving inflammation in a safe and natural way at Biodentist Alabama can help to reduce the risk factors for depression.
Depression and tooth loss
A study of seniors aged 65 and older featured in the journal Medicine showed a direct relationship between depression and the condition of existing teeth (presence of decay), the number of missing teeth, and dry mouth. In fact, researchers discovered that the severity of depression among subjects was correlated with the number of missing and decayed teeth and the prevalence of dry mouth or xerostomia. Findings from these and other studies suggest:
Depression plays an important role in chronic oral pain, as it potentially intensifies perceived discomfort and lowers pain tolerance.
Antidepressants can induce dry mouth, which is a risk factor for tooth decay and other oral conditions. Plus, many seniors have two or more chronic conditions. The medications they take to manage these illnesses often have xerostomia as a side effect.
Tooth loss and dental pain generally impair quality of life, including mental health.
Tooth loss results in uncomfortable chewing, poor speech, self-consciousness about the appearance of the smile, and withdrawal from social interactions needed to lead a happy, meaningful life into the golden years.
Dr. Nathan Pfister and Dr. Brian Pfister understand that you are more than your teeth and gums, and the great influence oral health has on your wellbeing and overall health. They and the entire team at Biodentist Alabama look forward to guiding you and your family through the journey that is oral health, and to helping you achieve all the additional quality of life benefits that go with a healthy smile. Call (855) 939-5566 to schedule your appointment at the Dothan AL office.
Dr. Pfister's passion for non-invasive biologic dentistry began while practicing dentistry in Hawaii and he learned of the power of ozone in dentistry. From Hawaii, Dr. Pfister moved to his hometown of Upland as the protégé of the world-renowned ozone dentist Dr. Bill Domb...
Dr. Brian Pfister was born and raised in Upland, CA. He attended Brigham Young University-Idaho, graduating with a degree in exercise physiology with a minor in chemistry. From Idaho, Dr. Brian returned to southern California to continue dental training at Western University College of Dental Medicine.