Severe mental illness and tooth loss


Investigators from the University of Queensland have discovered that individuals with severe mental illness are more than three times more likely to lose their teeth due to bad oral hygiene and more than six times more likely to have decaying teeth.

The British researchers made a call for free dental care for people who had a diagnosed mental illness after the study showed that these particular patients didn’t benefit from advances in dental health. The types of mental illness they looked at wee schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder or other affective disorders.

“People with severe mental illness may not be able to clean their teeth properly because of poor housing or homelessness. Some medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers can also reduce the flow of saliva and cause of dry mouth, which increase plaque formation. They may be reluctant to see a dentist because they are scared of treatment, or worried about the cost,” explained lead investigator Professor Steve Kisley.

Oral health for the general population has increased as advances in care have made oral hygiene affordable and accessible. This is not unlike other areas of medical advancement like cardiovascular disease, where the mentally ill fall behind general population.

In addition to free dental care, Kisley called for general treatment of the mentally ill to include information on oral health including medication, tobacco and drug use information. Patients should be given specific advise on diet, smoking, oral health, and brushing techniques.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, British Journal of Psychiatry

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