Study finds mentally ill skip flossing, mouthwash in oral care

A recent study presented at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) conference in New Orleans has shed light on the oral hygiene practices of patients with self-reported mental health disorders.

The study, conducted by Gracie Groth from the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, aimed to understand the relationship between mental health and oral health behaviors.

Researchers reviewed the dental records of 854 patients treated at an advanced care dental clinic between 2018 and 2021. Among these patients, 250 reported having mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, dental anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study found that there were no significant differences in oral hygiene behaviors, recommended recare intervals, or frequency of recare visits based on the type of mental health disorder. However, the researchers discovered that most patients did not use interdental cleaning tools (60.8%) or mouthwash (73.2%).

Interestingly, the study revealed a statistically significant difference between men and women in terms of toothbrushing and the use of fluoride toothpaste. Women reported a higher frequency of these oral hygiene practices compared to men.

The average recommended recare interval for the patients was five months, but the study found that less than two recare visits were attended by both sexes and all types of mental health disorders.

“Frequency of performing OHB, except for daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and returning for recare at recommended intervals was low for patients with self-reported MHD,” Groth stated in the study’s abstract.

The findings of this study highlight the need for increased attention to oral hygiene practices among patients with mental health disorders and the importance of regular dental check-ups and recare visits.

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