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June 12, 2014

Are Your Teeth Depressing You?

teeth depressingAre Your Teeth Depressing You?

Do you want to be happy like the couple in the photo to the right? Then brush your teeth. Yes, brushing your teeth might make you happier.

If you don’t like the appearance of your teeth you may have another reason not to be happy with them. They actually may be causing depression especially if you have poor dental health. The Deakin IMPACT Strategic Research Centre found that depression was linked to the number of dental conditions one has. Not only that but the more dental conditions one had the more severe was the depression. So the link between poor dental health and depression is “dose dependent”.

Data were used from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (NHANES) on 10,214 individuals in the study.

The study was not able to determine why there is a link between dental health and depression, but it is thought to be related to inflammation. We’ve written a series of articles on the harmful effects of inflammation and it’s relationship to chronic disease like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. There is a strong relationship between poor dental health and cardiac disease on the basis of inflammation. The mouth is a home for bacteria (good and bad) and poor dental care adds to the inflammatory burden of the body.

Is Depression Related to Inflammation?

While we think of depression as an imbalance in neurotransmitters, depression is also related to inflammation. Where does this inflammation come from? Low grade inflammation that is behind depression and other chronic disease comes from many sources.  The main sources for this inflammation include psychosocial stressors, diet, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, sleep, dental and periodontal disease, low vitamin D, allergy related diseases, and gut bacteria.

As you can see there are plenty of opportunities or reasons for one to become depressed from inflammation. Depression is certainly on the rise along with all the other chronic diseases mentioned above. Inflammation is the one factor they share in common.

With that in mind perhaps more attention and strategies should be developed to manage these inflammatory sources. Some of these inflammatory sources are relatively easy to address like being more active and being sure to have optimal vitamin D levels (at least above 50 ng/ml), plus eating more fruits and vegetables that lower the inflammatory burden of the body.

And, what can be more simple than brushing and flossing your teeth? Don’t let your teeth depress you! Brush and stay happy.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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