Study Finds Gum Disease Linked to Depression

Beaverton Dental Center

At the Beaverton Dental Center, our doctors work to ensure each and every patient enjoys a healthy, great-looking smile they can have confidence in showing. Healthy teeth and gums not only enable you to better enjoy the little things in life, they also help to lower your risk for a range of chronic health problems. Studies have found that patients who experience tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of diseases that include heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer.

Now, European researchers have discovered that patients who experience gum disease may have a higher risk for depression. In a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, researchers found that patients with chronic gum disease had nearly twice the risk of developing depression when compared to those with healthy gums.

This study adds to the growing amount of research that shows just how important regular cleanings and exams at Beaverton Dental Center are to ensuring our patients enjoy healthier, happier lives.

Understanding the Connection

As part of the study, researchers examined patients 14 and older who had received a diagnosis of chronic gum disease in the UK. Roughly 16 percent of the people with chronic gum disease went on to receive a depression diagnosis within 10 years. Conversely, only 9 percent of those without gum disease received a similar diagnosis for depression.

“It has been shown that mental health can have a negative impact on oral health and that biological components and behavioral mechanisms that are connected with depression can have an adverse effect on periodontal health. However, little is known about the reserve association,” wrote the research team in their findings.

The study focused on individuals who received a diagnosis of chronic gum disease in one of the UK’s 256 general dental practices between the years 2000 and 2016. The research team excluded individuals who’d been previously diagnosed with other types of mental illness, including anxiety, mood disorders, and schizophrenia.

To compare different cases of depression in those with and without chronic gum disease, the research team used a database with information on drug prescriptions and diagnoses and basic demographic and medical data. Over 6,500 patients with chronic gum disease and over 6,500 patients without gum disease were included in the analysis.

Overall, 16.3 percent of patients with chronic gum disease and 8.8 percent without gum disease received a depression diagnosis within 10 years. The team found a positive and significant relationship between the two conditions, with those suffering from chronic gum disease being 1.82 times more likely to also develop depression.

These results were true from both men and women across all age groups under 65. The link between gum disease and subsequent depression was especially strong for those between the ages of 21 and 50.

“It seems that there is a strong association among young adults,” wrote researchers.

One More Reason to Visit Beaverton Dental Center

To explain what links gum disease with depression, researchers hypothesized that an autoimmune response could be the trigger between the two conditions. Inflammation is linked to neuroinflammation and impaired serotonin synthesis.

“Restrictions in oral hygiene and the wearing of prostheses as well as pain and halitosis may be associated with depressive symptoms,” explained the research team.

Researchers believe this marks the only study to examine how gum disease is a potential risk factor for depression. As the first study in this area, more research is needed before a clear cause and effect relationship can be drawn between gum disease and depression risk.

As researchers give more study to this particular area, the results of this preliminary study provide one more reason why patients should undergo frequent cleanings and exams with our team at Beaverton Dental Center.

Regular preventative care, along with daily brushing and flossing, offer patients the best defense against gum disease, and now, potentially depression.