Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine

Religious Involvement and Psychological Stress as Predictors of Dental Health

*Yung Y. Chen
Department Of Neurology, Taiwan, Province Of China

*Corresponding Author:
Yung Y. Chen
Department Of Neurology, Taiwan, Province Of China
Email:superego100@gmail.com

Published on: 2018-04-30

Abstract

Religious involvement has been linked to many indicators of health, including longevity. Previous research has identified psychological stress as a possible mediator for the positive effects of religion on health. Fewer studies have investigated the potential relationship between these psychosocial factors and dental health. This study examined religious involvement, stress, and dental health in a community sample. Participants included 150 community residents who received dental care as part of the study. Results indicated a significant positive association between religiousness and dental health, and a negative association between stress and dental health. These findings encourage further research on religion, stress, and dental health, as well as possible mechanisms for these associations.

Keywords

Religiousness; Religious Involvement; Perceived Stress; Dental Health

Introduction

In recent years, religion has received attention as a psychosocial factor that may exert a positive influence on physical health outcomes [1]. Religion comprises a broad domain that includes affiliations with religious denominations, ties to a particular religious congregation, involvement in religious practices such as private prayer and attendance at services, and various beliefs, values, and sentiments. A meta-analysis has suggested that indicators of religious involvement, or degree of religiousness, are associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality in large population-based studies [2]. Fewer studies, however, have examined the potential association between religion and dental health. One purpose of the current study was to investigate the possible association between religion and indicators of dental health. Previous research has identified both health-related behaviors, and pathways involving the modulation of physiologic processes associated with psychological stress [3] as possible mechanisms for the salutary effects of religion on health. The association between psychological stress and physical health has been well documented over the previous decades. Perceived stress, subjective and psychological in nature, has been thought to affect health largely through physiological and behavioral pathways [4]. The experience of stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and is associated with cardiovascular [5], endocrinological [6], and immune [7] changes in the body. More recently, psychological stress has been reported to be associated with various measures of dental health, from plaque buildup to pocket depth and tooth loss [8]. Specifically, results from previous studies have shown evidence in support of stress contributing to the development of periodontal disease, through its effects on immune system function and chronic inflammation, as well as maladaptive health behavior [9]. Less research though, has been done to evaluate the effects of stress on broader indicators of dental health, such as fillings, cavities, or crowns. Another purpose of the current study was to examine the potential association between psychological stress and general dental health. In addition, this study would investigate potential interactive effects of religion and psychological stress on dental health.