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Today, I wanted to share an interesting article on the effects of poor dental health on one’s psychology. The guest post was contributed by Robert Anders, for Rockefeller Center Orthodontics – Experts in Invisalign braces. For more information about consultations, visit Invisalign Consultation New York.
The Psychological Issues of Poor Dental Care
By: Robert Anders
Having bad teeth can bring with it a lot of psychological issues, such as insecurities and lack of self esteem. Can repairing your teeth improve your mental health as well? The answer seems to be a resounding “yes.”
Your Mouth and Your Body
For years, medical professionals have warned that poor dental health can affect your overall physical health. They have established links between poorly-maintained teeth and heart problems, as bacteria from your mouth can slip into your bloodstream. They have also uncovered links between gum disease and pregnancy complications, like premature birth. Immune system disorders are another common concern for people with oral health problems.
Researchers have even started to explore how poor dental health can affect the brain. The Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York discovered that there may be a link between bad teeth and cognition ailments. In their study, elderly people who suffered from gum disease performed worse on memory tests than those without gum trouble. That same group also struggled more than the rest with subtraction tests.
Your Mouth and Your Mind
Beyond physical problems, having bad teeth can cause psychological issues. After all, your mouth is usually a point of focus when socializing, whether you are talking, flashing a smile, or twisting a scowl. Given the mouth’s importance, it makes sense why feeling self-conscious about your teeth can be especially damaging. Here are some ways bad teeth can trigger psychological issues.
- Anxiety, especially when socializing:
If you’re self conscious about one of your most important communication tools, it can ravage your ability to socialize comfortably. People who think they have bad teeth may want to avoid doing anything to expose them, which can start an unhealthy cycle of self-monitoring and criticism. It impedes a person’s ability to speak clearly, and it eliminates one of the most effective nonverbal ways to strike up rapport: cracking a genuine smile.
- Low self-esteem:
Confidence stems from feeling good about yourself. If you are always worried about your teeth, it is difficult to feel confident, and that can seriously strip away at your self esteem. Having bad teeth can also trigger self esteem issues that extend beyond how others think; in some cases, people begin to feel guilty about the state of their teeth, engaging in a lot of self criticism about their ineffective oral hygiene habits, which can exacerbate issues about self image.
Anxiety, poor social experiences, low self esteem, and guilt are a recipe for depression. Not only can they all contribute to isolation, which comes with its own share of problems, but they establish a psychological state that is both self-loathing and reluctant to engage with the world. While not everyone will experience all those symptoms, those who do could sink into deep depression unless they get help.
Studies from different countries in Europe suggest that poor dental care and psychological issues can develop into a vicious cycle. Those with high self esteem tend to take better care of their teeth, and the resulting bright smiles contribute right back to the high self esteem they hold. On the other hand, people with low self esteem tend to brush less often, and then the poor state of their teeth can make them feel even worse.
That means it is important to get serious about dental care. Not only does commitment to oral hygiene contribute to better physical health, it seems to significantly influence mental health, too.