THE RELATIONSHIP OF STRESS WITH PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
Studies relating stress and oral pathology have been limited to animal experiments or clinical studies of personality and psychological health that have ignored the role of specific life events. The present study, based on an earlier pilot project, was the first investigation to relate measurements of life stress to measurements of periodontal disease. Subjects were fifty male volunteers recruited from a pool of dental patients from the Brooklyn V.A. Outpatient Clinic. Each subject was given a complete oral examination by one of four participating dentists in order to evaluate the degree of periodontitis and gingivitis. Evidence of psychological and somatic symptomatology was assessed for each subject with a self-report questionnaire, the Brief Symptom Inventory. The degree of life stress was assessed with the Life Experiences Survey, a life events checklist which allows the subject to classify events as positive or negative and rate their impact. Previous research has found subjects who remained relatively healthy throughout their lifetimes despite various life stresses. For these subjects, life stress was unrelated to illness. Therefore, the present study identified a subpopulation of the present sample having the fewest somatic symptoms. The ten subjects with the lowest Brief Symptom Inventory scores constituted this low somatization group. The relationship between life stress scores and periodontal disease was studied for the entire sample and again excluding the data from the low somatization subjects. Measurements of life stress were found to be significantly correlated to levels of oral pathology. Oral conditions were more severe and more widespread as the levels of stress increased. Stress was also related to overall psychological health. Subjects wth relatively high stress scores tended to be more anxious and hostile and to manifest more obsessive-compulsive and somatic symptoms. The measure of stress most strongly related to both periodontal and psychological pathology was negative life events. This was true whether the events were weighted equally or individually rated for impact. Subjects were found whose health was unrelated to their life situation. Their data obscured or diminished the relationship between stress and periodontal disease. Their resistance to stress deserves further investigation.
GREEN, LESLIE WAYNE, "THE RELATIONSHIP OF STRESS WITH PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8323526.