UK Study Links Gum Disease, Mental Health Risk
A major UK study that reinforces the growing body of evidence linking poor oral health and the risk of developing various chronic health conditions broke new ground by including mental illness among those chronic conditions.
The study, which was published in the journal BMJ Open, followed 64,000 patients with a history of periodontal (gum) disease, as well as a 250,000-person cohort group without periodontal disease, for an average of three and a half years. The patients with gum disease were 37 more likely to develop mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
Reporting on the study, NewAtlas.com’s Rich Hardy writes that the link between poor oral health and poor mental health is likely multifaceted:
“The researchers are clear in noting the association between mental health and periodontitis is likely both behavioral and immunological. This means it is probable poor oral health (such as halitosis or tooth loss) can enhance social anxieties but there is also evidence of oral infections exacerbating inflammatory responses that lead to distinct changes in immune system activity in the brain.
“Ultimately, regardless of ‘what comes first’ questions, the researchers suggest these findings affirm the importance of maintaining good oral health. Krish Nirantharakumar, co-senior author on the study, says ideally this means regular dentist visits and better communication between dentists and GPs underpinned by the understanding that oral health can be intrinsically associated with broader health concerns.”
Information sourced by Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, owner of Cariodontal, located at 310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck, NY (516-282-0310 / Cariodontal.com), and Manhattan Oasis Dentistry, 525 West End Ave., Ste. 1G, New York, NY (212-874-2880 / ManhattanOasisDentistry.com)