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    February 13, 2011

    Depression and oral Health

    Depression and Oral Health

    Depression effects 1 in 5 Australians at some point in their life, and these statistics are conservative. If its not you, then maybe it is someone you know. Depression has a profound effect on all aspect of the sufferer’s life, not the least being the state of their oral health, which can have long term effects even after recovery from the illness.
    I write this article with reference to 20 years clinical experience and also with reference to the latest medical journals. A full list of citations or further in depth information is available.
    Depression causes impairment in mood, thought content and behaviour. This causes distress, compromised social function and a decrease in personal hygiene skills and motivation. Depression is characterised by marked sadness, no interest in pleasurable activities, weight change, sleep disturbance, inability to concentrate and a high suicide rate. The more chronic the disease the more profound the oral affects will be.
    This translates in the mouth to poor oral hygiene, a diet high in sugars, high decay rate, decreased saliva flow, gum disease, decreased taste sensation and burning/tingling in the mouth
    Reduction in saliva flow is caused by the disease itself but also medications such as tri-cyclic anti-depressants (TCA) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). To combat this, artificial salivary products can be used such as Biotene mouthwash, gel and toothpaste.
    The high caries rate is caused by decreased oral hygiene, poor diet and reduced saliva. This can be combated by use of high fluoride toothpastes (Neutraflour 5000), and fluoride mouthwashes (Neutrafluor 900 and 220). Also the use of re-mineralising agents such as recaldent which is present in GC mousse plus and Recaldent chewing gum can be easy to use and have a better compliance.
    A depressed patient will not be motivated to seek the help of a dentist so it is important for carers to organise this with appropriately trained oral health professionals.
    In recovery, the continued use of high fluoride products and in particular GC mousse plus help to reverse the white lesions caused by the poor oral hygiene and diet.
    All products mentioned are available at www.dentalcareproducts.com.au and further information regarding depression can be found at www.beyondblue.org.au
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