Depressed young adults more at risk of oral health disease

Findings of a new study suggest that young adults with feelings of depression are significantly more at risk of oral health diseases

Published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, scientists monitored the oral and mental health of more than 500 people from birth until the age of 30.

The research shows those suffering from sadness, helplessness and other symptoms of depression, are almost 20% more likely to also have severe gum disease.

Depression and neglecting oral health

The study makes a connection between depression and the body’s ability to fight off inflammation – a sign of gum disease. It also suggests that young people with symptoms of depression are more likely to neglect their oral health.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the study highlights how good oral health can be as much about the mind as it is about the mouth.

He said: ‘Gum disease and feelings of depression are two common conditions that most of us might suffer from at some point in our lives.  Following this study, we now know these problems are linked and often occur together.

‘Understanding that mental disorders can influence the health of our mouth is extremely important.’

‘More effective education, individual treatment plans, better supportive therapy and aftercare, must be provided for those suffering with depression and other mental health disorders.

‘For these things to happen, we must first improve our ability to spot depression, which often goes undiagnosed.’

Around one in five (20%) people in the United Kingdom have symptoms of anxiety or depression.

According to the Oral Health Foundation, those with mental disorders are often faced with more challenges to maintain a healthy mouth.

The charity is keen to offer support to those struggling with their oral health, as well as for parents and carers.

‘Everybody deserves the right of good oral health. Sadly, for those with depression, there are many reasons why this may negatively impact their oral health,’ adds Dr Carter.

‘For anybody struggling with their oral health, there is help. Our Dental Helpline is a free service, staffed by fully-trained professionals who are there to support you by offering advice and reassurance.’

To contact the Dental Helpline, please call 01788 539780 or email [email protected].


1. Nascimento, G. G. et al (2018) ‘Is there an association between depression and periodontitis? A birth cohort study’. J Clin Periodontol. Accepted Author Manuscript. . doi:10.1111/jcpe.13039

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