Mental health awareness is on the rise. More and more people are taking charge of their emotional and mental wellness by making positive changes in their lives and seeking professional care when necessary. But did you know that your oral health can also have a bearing on your mental health? Research suggests that gum disease may increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and other indicators of poor mental well-being. Let’s talk more about this connection.
What Does the Research Say?
A study published in 2021 examined records from more than 64,000 patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with either gingivitis (the earlier stage of gum disease) or periodontitis (advanced gum disease).
The study uncovered a significant correlation between gum disease and a number of other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and cardiometabolic diseases. Surprisingly, the research also indicated a 37% increased risk of mental ill-health. (The term “mental ill-health” includes conditions like anxiety, depression, and other serious problems that affect mental well-being.)
Why Are Gum Disease and Mental Health Connected?
The abovementioned study was not specifically focused on the link between mental health and gum disease, so it did not attempt to delve into the reasons why they are connected. One possible reason for the connection has to do with how gum disease can affect overall quality of life. For example, it can limit food choices and cause bad breath, both of which may have adverse effects on a person’s social life. It can also cause continual pain and even lead to tooth loss.
Managing Your Oral Health
Gum disease is extremely common in the U.S., with approximately half of adults suffering from some form of it. If you believe that your gums are not as healthy as they should be, you should take prompt action to get them on the road to recovery. You can start by consulting with a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gum health. After they examine your mouth, they will be able to recommend your next steps. They might advise you to:
- Adapt your oral hygiene routine. For example, you may need to brush and floss more often, change the products that you use, or alter the techniques that you use to clean your mouth.
- Undergo gum disease therapy. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, you may need a fairly conservative treatment, such as a deep cleaning of the mouth. However, it is also possible that surgical intervention will be required.
Gum disease treatment is not a magic cure for mental health problems, but many patients do enjoy a brighter outlook on life after they are free of active gum disease. That might be true of you as well!
Meet the Practice
Drs. Handsman, Haddad, and Jenny are proud to serve as periodontists for the Worcester community. They have many years of combined experience and are proud to offer a range of gum disease treatments. To learn more about them and how they may be able to help your smile feel and function its best, contact us at 508-753-5444.