Relationship of Poor Oral Health to Depression in US Adults




Rudraraju, Hemanth
Mandapati, Surendra R.
Vinjamuri, Gopi K.
Dhara, Prabodh K.
Homan, Sharon


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Purpose: Oral health is a key component of the overall health of individuals. In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults in the U.S had at least one major depressive episode in the past year which represented 6.9 percent of all the U.S adults2. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between poor dental health and depression in US adults, adjusting for demographic and health risk variables. Methods: We analyzed data from 4949 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES 2011-2012)1. Decayed Missing Filled Surfaces (DMFS) Index was used as a measure of oral health. Depression was measured as a subjective score based on answers to the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) designed by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Ordinal logistic regression was performed to examine if depression was associated with poor oral health. We used SAS© 9.3 for the analyses. We adjusted for confounding variables including age, race, gender, smoking status, marital status and diet. Results: Poor dental health as measured by DMFS, is only weakly associated with depression. We estimated the adjusted odds ratio for depression in people with poor oral health to be 1.01 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.03; p= 0.4). Conclusion: There is a weak positive association between poor oral health and depression that is independent of age, race, gender, smoking status, marital status and diet.