Finnish rock musician Mikko von Hertzen

Psoriasis and the importance of oral health: A rock musician’s transformative tale

Feb. 20, 2024
A Finnish rock musician learns more about the connection between oral health and autoimmune disease in his journey to a healthier life.

Rock musician Mikko "Pide" von Hertzen, lead singer and guitarist of the globally successful Finnish rock band Von Hertzen Brothers, underwent a significant transformation in his early 20s due to the onset of a chronic skin disease. This health challenge served as a catalyst for him to seek a deeper meaning in life and prompted a newfound focus on his overall well-being, including his oral-systemic health.

Mikko described the early stages of his illness: "In the summer of 1994, I had a long cold, and I was applying for university at the same time, and a lot of other things were going on in my life. At the end of the summer, I noticed the first itchy patches on my skin. From there, the patches started to spread very quickly."

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that manifests as red patches on the skin, scaling, and sometimes joint pain. The World Health Organization estimates that around 2%–3% of the world's population suffers from psoriasis. Psoriasis usually appears in young adulthood, but it can start at any age.

"The onset of the disease was quite unexpected. Only afterward did I discover that I had a genetic predisposition to the disease and that it was triggered by a longer flu," the rocker says.

Also by the author … Poor oral health and oral dysbiosis: A link to systemic diseases and cancer

Second-generation Finnish rocker

Mikko, Kie, and Jonne von Hertzen are second-generation rock musician brothers. Their father, Hasse von Hertzen, has been playing rock music alongside his brother Lasse in The Roosters since the 1960s. The younger generation of brothers inherited their passion for making music through familial ties.

Mikko started playing the piano at a Finnish music school at age 4. In the seventh grade, he began playing the drums, and he made his first recordings with his brothers in 1990 when he was 17. Mikko, now 51, played in several popular Finnish rock bands, such as Venus Flytrap, Egotrippi, and Lemonator.

Journey toward a healthier lifestyle

The autoimmune disease psoriasis changed Mikko's self-image, and accepting the change wasn't always easy, he admits. But the experience opened the door to spiritual growth and new insights about life that he might not have been able to deal with at that stage of his life without the disease.

In 1998, Mikko went to India to work in an ashram and do yoga and meditation. He lived an outwardly ascetic life there: For the first couple of years, he slept on a mattress only a few millimeters thick, directly on the hard floor.

“I wanted to delve into the ultimate meaning of life and explore different philosophies, ideas, and religions about humanity and the meaning of the body. I like to believe that the onset of autoimmune disease and its timing in my life helped steer me in a direction that has proven to be the best and most meaningful for me.”

A healthy lifestyle helps to alleviate the skin symptoms of psoriasis, so when Mikko returned to Finland, his priority became good health.

“Having psoriasis has motivated me to pay special attention to lifestyle choices that support the well-being of my skin and body. Although I cannot influence the autoimmune disease, I can contribute to my well-being through choices such as following a vegetarian diet,” Mikko says.

Yoga, meditation, and a healthy diet are also ways he maintains a balanced mind, which is especially helpful in challenging life transitions.

Oral health and autoimmune diseases

Mikko acknowledges the importance of oral health for individuals with psoriasis. Studies indicate that those with psoriasis should be diligent about their oral hygiene, as they commonly face oral diseases like cavities and periodontitis.1-4

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Psoriasis is occasionally treated with immune-suppressing drugs, emphasizing the need for meticulous oral care to diminish harmful bacteria in the mouth and simultaneously mitigate the body’s inflammatory response. The use of biological medications has become more common among individuals with psoriasis. Before resorting to these medications, it’s important to address the patient’s dental health. Sometimes, after dental treatment, the need for biological medications decreases as oral infection management alleviates the symptoms of psoriasis.

Scientific research underscores the connection between oral health and autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. Studies highlight the significance of controlling oral infections and maintaining good oral hygiene, as these practices can help reduce systemic inflammation and the associated systemic effects of poor oral health.

For Mikko, prioritizing oral health is crucial for several reasons. "In addition to psoriasis, I have a predisposition to enamel erosion that affects my oral health. I have been using a bite guard for many years; it prevents teeth from wearing down and helps maintain the enamel in good condition. All home remedies that enhance oral hygiene are necessary for my teeth."

Antibacterial therapy for oral health

The rock musician has been using an antibacterial photodynamic therapy (Lumoral), developed by Finnish scientists, for about six months. (Lumoral is not yet available in the US.)

"I have always tried to take the best possible care of my teeth, and the antibacterial treatment method is an excellent addition to this. When I use the device a couple of times a week as part of my overall oral hygiene routine, I can be sure that the bacterial balance in my mouth is in great shape."

Antibacterial treatment enhances the effects of the toothbrush, and studies show that it significantly improves preventive results compared to professional dental care. The technology slows down plaque formation, reducing the burden of harmful bacteria in the mouth.5,6

Author’s note: Von Hertzen Brothers announced the release of their live performance at Tavastia, Finland, in 2023. Live at Tavastia was recorded February 10, 2023, at the Tavastia Klubi in Helsinki. It was released as a live album on February 16, 2024, and the concert will also be available to watch on-demand.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Clinical Insights newsletter, a publication of the Endeavor Business Media Dental Group. Read more articles and subscribe.


  1. Kwak EJ, Choi YJ, Kim HN, Kim KE, Jeon J, Baek YS. Increased dental comorbidities in patients with psoriasis: a nationwide population-based cohort study in Korea. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2023;48(12):1347-1353. doi:10.1093/ced/llad286
  2. Korman NJ. Management of psoriasis as a systemic disease: what is the evidence? Br J Dermatol. 2020;182(4):840-848. doi:10.1111/bjd.18245
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  6. Aggarwal N, Gupta S, Grover R, Sadana G, Bansal K. Plaque removal efficacy of different toothbrushes: a comparative study. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2019;12(5):385-390. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1669

Nina Garlo-Melkas, MSc, is a health and science journalist who works as communications manager at Koite Health Ltd., a quickly growing health technology company and innovator in light-activated antibacterial solutions for treating and preventing oral diseases.