GEELONG, Australia: Researchers from Australia have found that depression is linked to poor oral health. Studying the data of more than 10,000 patients, they were also able to demonstrate a dose–response relationship between the two conditions, as patients with more dental conditions had depression that was more severe.


In particular, the study showed that almost two-thirds of participants (61 per cent) who reported depression also reported having had oral pain over the past year. In addition, more than half of the participants (57.4 per cent) considered their teeth to be in fair or poor condition. Compared with individuals without an oral health condition, the prevalence of depression was significantly higher in those with two, four or six conditions.

According to the researchers, poor dental health has not been studied extensively in the context of its links with mental health. “The relationship is not well understood, with previous studies investigating poor dental health as a by-product of depression, rather than a precursor,” said Dr Adrienne O’Neil, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT) Strategic Research Centre at Deakin University. '

“Although the results of this study provide only a snapshot of this association, they add to emerging theories around the importance of oral health and bacteria in mental health. If poor oral health is a risk factor for depression, this may have implications for depression management, as well as depression prevention from a public health perspective,” O’Neil added.

The IMPACT Strategic Research Centre is an integrated research facility that investigates the causes of and impact of psychiatric, musculoskeletal, metabolic and other disorders, and contributes to the development of innovative therapies and preventative interventions.

For the study, the researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a programme of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the US.

The study, titled “The association between poor dental health and depression: Findings from a large-scale, population-based study (the NHANES study),” was published in the May issue of the General Hospital Psychiatry journal.