Most people are aware of the unsightly appearances that tooth loss may incur. But, are you aware that the effects of tooth loss can extend past physical appearance? It’s true, losing teeth can have a direct effect on your mental health – particularly with inducing depression and anxiety.

Recently published research, introduced at the 43rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research at West Virginia University, confirms the relationship. The study links patients who express “dental anxiety” and subsequently avoid regular dental checkups with future depression because of their resulting poor dental health and eventual tooth loss.

The research was conducted through over-the-phone interviews, in which participants were over 19 years of age and were informed about the information surrounding depression, anxiety, and tooth loss. The study had almost 77,000 participants and was equally divided amongst gender and evenly distributed amongst racial categories. It was concluded that, of the nearly 77,000 participants, 13.4% exhibited some form of anxiety, 16.7% were diagnosed with depression, and 5.7% had experienced full tooth loss.

In order to more accurately evaluate the data, three separate categories were identified- 1) “depression,” 2) “anxiety,” and 3) “depression/anxiety.” From these categorizations, the researchers were able to conclude that there was a large discrepancy between attitudes toward tooth loss in participants who reported feeling some type of anxiety or depression and those who reported neither of the two mental conditions. The findings cited the adjusted odds ratio for tooth loss and anxiety to be 1.58, for tooth loss and depression to be 1.64, and for depression/anxiety and tooth loss to be 1.55. Meanwhile, the adjusted odds ratio for anxiety was found to be 1.13, while the ratio for depression was 1.16 and the ratio for depression/anxiety was 1.23.

In all, as a result of the study and its findings, it was confirmed that depression and anxiety were directly correlated with an individual’s tooth loss.