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Mood disorders


Up to 37 percent of adults experience mood disorders at some point in their lives; and many receiving treatments may undergo adverse dental side effects according to a study that appears in the September/October 2004 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD) clinical peer-reviewed journal.

Mood disorders are a group of mental conditions, including depression and bipolar disorder, which are common among adults and early diagnosis and treatment can greatly reduce the risk of suicide.

Medications prescribed as treatments for mood disorders can result in dry mouth (xerostomia), an increased rate of dental caries and periodontal (gum) disease. "Many patients who are taking antidepressants will have dry mouth," says David F. Halpern, DMD, FAGD and AGD spokesperson. "In an effort to curtail any tooth decay, we stress with patients the importance of maintaining an extremely high level of oral hygiene care by brushing, flossing and daily fluoride therapy."

Because of these medical interactions, it is typical for dentists to ask about:

- Lifestyle (smoking or involvement in high-risk sports)
- Family medical history
- Health, even if it doesn’t relate to the mouth
- Surgeries or major illnesses
- Medications being taken

Dry mouth can be treated by sipping water during the day and chewing sugarless gum. Dr. Halpern also suggests artificial saliva substitutes such as gels, liquids or sprays. Individuals with dry mouth should contact a dentist for an evaluation and appropriate solution. Periodontal (gum) disease can be prevented by removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning.

Major depression usually lasts eight to nine months if the individual is not treated. James W. Little, DMD, lead author, says, "If treated it will take about 1-3 weeks to begin to feel better and get rid of thoughts of suicide."

Antidepressants and psychotherapy are common for treatment of depression. Bipolar disorder is treated with an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer to prevent manic episodes. When medication and psychotherapy are coupled together more than sixty percent of individuals will begin to notice improvements.

Jennifer Starkey | EurekAlert!
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