Don’t Worry. Be Happy. It Could Save Your Teeth!

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Tooth loss is no laughing matter, and here’s a fact that could make you even sadder: depression and anxiety have been linked to tooth loss.

This finding was revealed at the 43rd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research in March.

West Virginia University researchers examined the possible link between tooth loss and depression/anxiety because those who experience dental anxiety often avoid care, according to an article published in The Journal of the American Dental Association. People diagnosed with depression often neglect self-care.

The research team used data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. That data revealed that of the nearly 76,300 participants, more than 13 percent reported having anxiety, while nearly 17 percent reported depression and nearly 6 percent reported total tooth loss. The research found that those with depression, anxiety, or both had different levels of tooth loss than did participants without.

Thankfully, there are remedies for depression and anxiety. When it comes to dental anxiety specifically, Dr. Robert Walley has some options available to set patients at ease and help them remain calm and comfortable during treatment. We offer nitrous oxide – commonly known as laughing gas – as a sedative to keep you comfortable. We also can prescribe valium for you to take prior to your appointment. This will help ensure that you are in a relaxed state by the time you arrive for treatment. For patients who experience severe dental anxieties or require extensive dental treatments, we can even bring in an anesthesiologist to administer stronger sedatives.

Regardless of the reasons that keep people from dental care, you should strive to overcome them because tooth loss can usher in a whole host of additional dental complications. Let’s say you lose a lower molar and you decide not to replace it. It’s in the back where no one sees it. No big deal, right? Wrong. You see, your teeth depend on each other for support. A missing lower molar eliminates the support needed by the upper opposing molar it normally touches when your jaws are closed. That missing support causes the upper molar to “supra-erupt,” and the tooth becomes longer than it should.

Another problem with missing teeth is that when they aren’t replaced, the jawbone begins to waste away.

Other problems include:

  • Loss of ability to chew foods effectively
  • Adjacent teeth drift into the gap caused by the missing tooth
  •  Food can collect in the space left by a missing tooth
  •  Problems with the temporomandibular joint

Please don’t let fear and depression keep you from your routine professional dental checkups and dental cleanings. Call us today to schedule an appointment.