To Protect Your Brain, Brush Your Teeth

A new study confirms that good dental hygiene is a must if you want to keep your mental faculties intact as you age.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS PA—The results of a new study, just published in theJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, underscore a strong association between gum disease and brain health. As the study illustrates, you need to avoid the former to preserve the latter as you age.
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The Link Between Oral Health and Medical Illness

  • Mental health problems. It’s common knowledge that stress and anxiety can impact your health. But research has now shown a strong relationship between gum disease and many mental health problems, including stress, depression, distress, anxiety, and loneliness. All of these conditions can cause your body to produce more of the hormone cortisol which, in increased amounts, can aid in the progression of periodontal disease.

Hospitalized mental health patients and oral health.

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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2011 Oct 27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2011.01794.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Hospitalized mental health patients and oral health.


Associate Professor of Nursing Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University             Director/Chair, St Vincent’s & Mercy Private Nursing Research Unit, Fitzroy             Service Integration Project Officer, Banyule Community Health Service, West Heidelberg             Manager, Clinical Nursing Education Department, Austin Health             Adjunct Senior Lecturer, La Trobe University, Heidelberg, Vic., Australia.


ACCESSIBLE SUMMARY: •  Oral care for hospitalized mental health patients can minimize negative effects of physical conditions such as dehydration and diabetes and the oral side effects of commonly used medications. •  About 14% of the global burden of disease is attributed to mental illness and for those who have mental illness, oral health assessment is not routinely practiced by clinicians. •  Oral health care of hospitalized patients at present is variable and nursing care can play an important role in the oral health requirements of the hospitalized mental health patients and this information can form part of discharge planning to community care.

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this review of the literature is to present a contemporary perspective related to the nursing care of hospitalized mental health patients who have risk of developing oral health issues. Mental illness is a major health concern worldwide. Compounding this health issue, mental health patients/clients demonstrate avoidant behaviours related to oral health, and the symptoms of mental illness can be a compounding factor. Oral health and oral inflammatory disease are the result of lifestyle and behaviour and mental disorders affect both lifestyle and behaviour. The search used the search terms oral health AND nursing AND mental illness AND Published Date 2005 to 2010. For those who experience mental illness oral health assessment is not routinely practised by clinicians. The importance of special attention to dental problems for people with mental disorders has also been stressed by researchers since the lifespan of people with serious mental disorders is shortened compared to the general population. Oral health care is an important part of treatment. Routine oral care for hospitalized patients is imperative, and this is usually the responsibility of nurses without sufficient knowledge in oral care or comprehensive protocols to follow.

© 2011 Blackwell Publishing

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