Psychosocial factors such as depression, stress, emotional vulnerability, and Type A personality are associated with more severe periodontal injuries, indicating the need for psychological evaluation and support for patients presenting with aggressive or chronic periodontitis, according to research presented at the European Federation of Periodontology’s EuroPerio9 conference, June 20 to June 23 in Amsterdam.
Previous studies suggesting a link between periodontitis and psychosocial factors presented very mixed results, making it difficult to identify the interaction between specific psychological characteristics and severe gum disease, the researchers noted. The new study included 79 patients with periodontitis who attended the Periodontology Clinic at Descartes University Hospital in Paris.
“Our aim was to explore the association between clinical variables in patients suffering from aggressive or chronic periodontitis and some psychological traits, especially depression, stress, Type A behavior pattern, and locus of control. We hoped to identify patients at risk for more severe periodontal disease,” said lead author Sébastien Jungo, DDS, of the Department of Periodontology at Paris Descartes University.
“Our patients completed some short questionnaires to help us determine certain psychological traits. They also underwent periodontal examinations where we measured probing pocket depth and clinical attachment loss,” said Jungo.
“After controlling for age, tobacco consumption, and the form of periodontitis, we found that a clinical attachment loss of more than 5 mm was associated with ‘emotional vulnerability’ for all patients and with stress and Type A personality in patients presenting aggressive periodontitis,” Jungo said.
More research is needed to determine the possible causes for the association between severe periodontal injuries and psychological traits, Jungo said.
“This is a small study, but it is representative of what periodontists see in their clinics. In the future, there is a need for wider interventional studies, as well as research into inflammatory markers in addition to psychological assessment,” Jungo said.
“At this stage, we can say that the psychological evaluation of patients presenting with particularly aggressive periodontal disease is important. For patients presenting Type A personality, depression, perceived stress, or emotional vulnerability, the oral healthcare team should recommend psychosocial support,” said Jungo.