Dental disease an added burden for those with mental illness

PATIENTS with serious mental illness are three times more likely than the general population to be edentulous, a systematic review suggests.

Brisbane researchers concluded patients with severe mental illness, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, were not sharing in the improved oral health enjoyed by most people in developed countries.

In a meta-analysis of nine of the 21 studies in their review they found patients with psychiatric diagnoses had 3.4 times the odds of having lost all their teeth. The rate of dental caries in such patients was about six times greater than the population rate, they said.

Clinicians should consider oral health when assessing patients with mental illness, and saliva substitutes may be needed for those with dry mouth secondary to psychotropic medication, they suggested.

Br J Psych 2011; 199:187-93