We all get self-conscious about our smiles. We worry when they are not white enough, or if we have inflamed gums, but what could bad teeth be doing to our minds?
The Smilist Dental in Commack enlightened us to this terrible phenomenon that made us rethink what we already knew about the desire for a beautiful smile. This is what you should know.
The first point that was revealing to us was that the more you smile, the happier you are. The basic act of moving your facial muscles to form a smile can tell your brain that you must be happy. When you do not use those muscles or make an effort to smile on a regular basis, your brain will start to believe that there is nothing to be happy about.
People who are self-conscious about their smiles are far less likely to smile or show their teeth when they do smile. Over time, the lack of smiling will eventually convince your mind that you are unhappy.
One of the largest sources of unhappiness with people's smiles is tooth loss. Whether you have lost teeth due to accident or trauma or you lost them from decay or periodontal disease, it is common for people to feel uncomfortable about their smiles when they have teeth missing.
It has also been shown that people are not treated as well by others when there are visible missing teeth. People will make assumptions about why you have lost your teeth, your social class, and even your professionalism. Having missing teeth can negatively impact your success in finding work, making friends, and even finding a romantic partner.
One less talked about cause of tooth loss is as a result of eating disorders. These dental patients especially are prone to feeling unhappy about their smiles and it can further negatively impact their mental health.
As a result, tooth loss can have a negative effect on your mental health. The more you are visibly treated poorly based on your smile, the more you will resist smiling, resist social encounters, and it can even affect your ability to interview for a job you are otherwise qualified for.
Depression and Anxiety
There has also been some research into the fact that depression and anxiety can cause poor oral health. This is because the stress hormone, cortisol, is higher in people who suffer from depression or anxiety. When your cortisol level is higher, your immune system is lower, making you more susceptible to illness. On the oral health side of things, when you have a weak immune system, periodontal disease or gum inflammation becomes a much larger issue as your body cannot fight off the bacteria that is taking hold in your mouth.
Furthermore, the medications that treat depression and anxiety can cause dry mouth. When your mouth does not have adequate saliva, bacteria and plaque cling to your teeth, taking hold and causing cavities and other issues.
As a condition, anxiety also comes with its own oral health concerns, such as teeth grinding (bruxism), canker sores, and dry mouth. All of these can cause discomfort as well as contributing to poor oral health.
What to do
Since we now know that anxiety and depression can worsen oral health and that oral health can cause psychological concerns, the whole thing is a cycle. That best solution to combat this is to take care of your oral health. You can do this by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist at least twice a year. Preventative care is the best solution to keeping your oral health well.
If your smile is making you feel self-conscious and you are already doing great homecare, it is time to see what other options are out there to take care of your smile. Some solutions will be more aesthetic treatments, such as veneers or orthodontia. Other solutions might be restorative, such as crowns and fillings.
The best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with your local dentist. Then, you will be able to figure out what are the best steps to take to get your dream smile.
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