Study Examines the Link Between Mental Health and Oral Health

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Is the phrase mind over matter true? A group of scientists has decided to test this theory by evaluating whether a person’s sense of coherence and other psychological factors can have a noticeable impact on their oral health-related quality of life after receiving periodontal treatment. Their study, “Do psychological factors predict changes in oral health-related quality of life and clinical status after periodontal treatment?” was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

About the Sense of Coherence Scale

The Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC) evaluates how people view life and explains why some have coping skills that allow them to navigate stressful situations while maintaining a positive attitude and life outlook. The scale involves three main components: comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness. The first, comprehensibility, is someone’s ability to understand their problems in a rational way. Manageability refers to a person’s ability to cope and solve the situation due to high self-esteem, money, intelligence, support, and other valuable resources. Meanwhile, the latter refers to the extent to which people feel that their lives are filled with purpose and meaning, so they’re self-motivated to overcome their challenges. Typically, people with a higher score can maintain a positive attitude even among extreme hardships and stressful life situations.

About the Research Study

The lead researcher for the study, Andrew Rawlinson, works at the School of Clinical Dentistry at The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and the rest of his team: Mario Vettore, Sarah Baker and Peter Robinson. Rawlinson decided to perform the study to examine whether a patient’s psychological factors could predict upcoming changes in their oral health-related quality of life (or OHRQoL) and clinical status after undergoing periodontal treatment.

The oral health-related quality of life concept was founded on the idea that a person’s oral health can have a significant impact on their overall well-being. It is a subjective evaluation of the individual’s emotional, physical, and functional well-being in addition to their psychological health.

Rawlinson and the other scientists gathered a cohort of 140 patients with chronic periodontitis to begin the study. Each participant received non-surgical treatment. Participants completed questionnaires that asked about several psychological factors such as their self-esteem, locus of control, and ability to complete tasks using self-efficacy throughout the study. The researchers also added an Oral Health Impact Profile that included an oral hygiene review before, during, and when the research was complete. Rawlinson used a latent growth curve modeling guided by the Wilson and Cleary model to analyze the participant’s oral health-related quality of life, oral health changes, as well as their individual demographic, psychological, and environmental factors.

Rawlinson and his team found proof that participants experienced a greater oral health-related quality of life and periodontal status after receiving dental treatment. Men who had a greater sense of coherence predicted an overall better oral health-related quality of life before their periodontal treatment. The researchers also discovered that participants who had a stronger internal dimension of locus of control predicted a greater rate of improvement in their oral health-related quality of life.

On the other hand, participants who leaned more towards a greater external dimension predicted they would improve at a much slower rate. Meanwhile, others who scored high on self-efficacy for certain tasks predicted they would experience less overall improvement.

In Conclusion

Based on their initial findings, Rawlinson believes that understanding a patient’s psychological factors can make it easier for dental clinicians to understand why each person experiences a different oral health-related quality of life after dental treatment. He encourages dental practitioners to conduct more investigations to learn more about the close link between a patient’s oral health and overall quality of life. Their findings could have lasting implications on future health policies and improve the dental field.

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