CareQuest Institute Report Reveals Growing Link Between Mental Health and Oral Health

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health
CareQuest Institute


CareQuest Institute for Oral Health — a leading national nonprofit focused on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system released a new report during Mental Health Awareness Month that spotlights the growing link between mental health and oral health.

CareQuest Institute

The new visual report, which is based on an increasing body of research from CareQuest Institute’s 2022 State of Oral Health Equity in America survey and other scientific literature, highlights eight findings that show how mental health is connected to oral health. For example, depression is linked to poor oral hygiene, fewer dental visits, and other oral health problems.

“We know that depression can significantly affect an individual’s emotional well-being and overall functioning,” said Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. “This Mental Health Awareness Month, we are highlighting a growing body of research that shows that our emotional state is also connected to our oral health and why it’s so important to integrate oral health into broader, overall health strategies.”

The eight findings from CareQuest Institute and other scientific literature include:

  1. Adults with severe depression are more than twice as likely to report they do not brush their teeth at least twice a day.
  2. Adults with depression report flossing their teeth less often than those without depression.
  3. Individuals with depression visit the dentist for care significantly less often than those without depression.
  4. Adults with poor mental health (including depression) are more likely to have one or more unmet oral health need and are less likely to seek care for these needs.
  5. Depression is linked to higher levels of dental caries (decay).
  6. Periodontal (gum) disease is associated with higher scores on measures of depression.
  7. Scores on measures of depression are higher in individuals with a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) — that is, chronic pain in the face and jaw — compared to those without a TMD.
  8. Young adults with a history of depression are more likely to have extended use of opioid prescriptions after wisdom tooth removal than those without depression.

To learn more about this topic, read CareQuest Institute’s recent post, “Three Resources That Explore the Connection Between Oral Health and Mental Health.”


CareQuest Institute for Oral Health is a national nonprofit championing a more equitable future where every person can reach their full potential through excellent health.

We do this through our work in grantmaking, research, health improvement programs, policy and advocacy, and education as well as our leadership in dental benefits and innovation advancements. We collaborate with thought leaders, health care providers, patients, and local, state, and federal stakeholders, to accelerate oral health care transformation and create a system designed for everyone.

To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.