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Angry, Lonely Men Prone to Gum Disease

Expressing Feelings, Having Friends Helps Oral Health
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WebMD Health News

Dec. 22, 2003 -- If you're angry, this may make you mad. And if you're lonely, it may make you want to shun others. Here's the news: Anger and social isolation are linked to gum disease -- particularly in men.

The findings come from a survey of more than 42,500 health professionals. Nearly 60% are dentists, about 20% are veterinarians, and the rest are pharmacists, optometrists, osteopathic physicians, and podiatrists. They all are taking part in the ongoing Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

None of the men had gum disease when they started the study. But within the next four years, 1,100 of them said they'd had at least one bout of gum disease. Officially called periodontitis, gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It's a major cause of adult tooth loss.

Men who said they got angry on a daily basis were 43% more likely to have gum disease. The men who scored highest on anger scores were 72% more likely to get gum disease than those men who scored lowest on anger scores.

Men who reported having at least one close friend were 30% less likely to have gum disease than their friendless colleagues. Participation in regular religious services cut gum-disease risk by 27%.

Researchers Anwar T. Merchant, DMD, ScD, and colleagues at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, conclude that having more social support -- and learning to express one's feelings of anger -- would be good for your gums.

The findings appear in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Signs of Gum Disease

It's not always obvious when you have gum disease. Catching it early, though, could mean the difference between keeping and losing your teeth.

Beware if you have any of these signs of gum disease:

  • Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Your gums are red, swollen, or tender
  • Your gums have pulled away from your teeth
  • You have bad breath that doesn't go away
  • You have pus between your teeth and gums
  • You have loose teeth
  • There's been a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • You've had a change in the way your partial dentures fit

If so, health experts advise seeing a dentist as soon as you can.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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