The Role of OCD in Oral Health of Affected Individuals

Thumyat Noe ’23

Figure 1: The oral health of individuals with OCD is different compared to those with other mental health disorders due to differences in oral hygiene habits.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by disturbing thoughts and repetitive behaviors. Presentations of OCD include excessive cleaning and extreme fixation with symmetry or order. Psychiatrists treat OCD through prescribing antidepressants and selective serotonin uptake inhibitors. According to previous studies, mental health disorders can reduce oral health by increasing inflammatory biomarkers. However, OCD patients exhibit unique obsessions with cleaning which may counteract the harmful effects of mental health disorders on oral health. In a recent study, researchers from the International Association of Dental Research compared oral health statuses and brushing practices of individuals with or without OCD to determine how OCD may improve or reduce oral health.

To investigate the relationship between OCD and dental health, researchers recruited participants at private dental centers. Eligible participants were over the 18 years of age and presented symptoms of OCD. Prior to scheduled dental visits, participants completed a demographic survey and questionnaires that assessed their OCD symptoms. Researchers evaluated the oral health statuses of participants by looking for receding gum, plaques, and root caries. Researchers also used the Decayed Missing Filled Teeth (DMFT) index to measure the number of decayed teeth, the number of treated teeth, and the number of teeth missing due to decay; a high DMFT index score indicates poor oral health. 

The results of the study suggest that individuals with OCD generally have a lower DMFT index, higher brushing frequency, and lower plaque index. Researchers hypothesize that high brushing frequency in individuals with OCD contributed to lower scores on the DMFT. In addition, individuals with OCD had less cavities. While past studies suggest that individuals with mental health disorders tend to score higher on the DMFT index, the results of this study suggest that oral hygiene does not deteriorate in individuals with OCD. Understanding how OCD affects oral health differently compared to other mental health disorders is crucial in developing appropriate oral health treatments. Future studies could explore the effects of such treatments to improve oral health in individuals with mental health disorders. 

Works Cited:

[1] M. Moharrami, et al., Oral health status of individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder considering oral hygiene habits. Special Care Dentistry 42, 41-49 (2022). doi: 10.1111/scd.12632.

[2] Image retrieved from:
https://pixabay.com/illustrations/dentist-clinic-appointment-care-4275389/

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