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How Depression Is Linked to Oral Health

Published 05/24/2022

Eight Findings on the Growing Link Between Mental Health and Oral Health  

A growing body of research, highlighted in this visual report, shows that our emotional state is connected to our oral health. For example, depression can be linked to poor oral hygiene, fewer dental visits, and other oral health problems.  

Key findings from CareQuest Institute and the scientific literature include: 

  • Adults with depression report both brushing and flossing their teeth less often than those without depression. 
  • Adults with poor mental health (including depression) are more likely to have one or more unmet oral health need and are less likely to seek care for these needs than those with better mental health. 
  • Depression is linked to higher levels of dental caries (decay). 
  • Scores on measures of depression are higher in individuals with a temporomandibular disorder (TMD)—that is, chronic pain in the face and jaw—compared to those without a TMD. 

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