Research summary

Is There an Association Between Mental Health and Oral Health?

Jessica Ganga

In a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis, a team of researchers found a potential association between mental and oral health. The researchers presented their results at the 52nd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research in Portland, Oregon, which took place on March 15-18, 2023.

In their study, researchers used self-reported data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study and utilized the Global Appraisal Individual Needs-Short Screener (GAIN-SS) to measure mental health systems. These symptoms were categorized by three different disorder types: (1) internalizing, (2) externalizing, and (3) substance use. Further, six oral health conditions were evaluated: (1) self-rated oral health, (2) bleeding gums, (3) loose teeth, (4) tooth loss, (5) gum disease, and (6) bone loss.

Upon cross-sectional analysis, the researchers found that all six adverse oral health outcomes “demonstrated a statistically significant prevalence over increasing severity of mental health problems.” An example of this significance was the adjusted odds of bone loss around teeth were 1.79 times greater (95% CI, 1.30 – 2.46) at high vs non/low categories of internalizing mental health disorders.

Additionally, when analyzed longitudinally, associations with externalizing and substance use problems largely dissipated, but researchers found that multiple associations with internalizing problems persisted.

Overall, the authors concluded that health care providers should expect to see higher levels of oral disease among patients with adverse mental health conditions and the finding in their research “may inform both medical and dental communities in diagnosing and providing treatment to individuals suffering from mental illness.”


Study examines the link between mental health and oral health. News release. American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research; March 18, 2023. Accessed June 28, 2023.