The state of your oral health is an indicator of various conditions and personal choices. Stained enamel could indicate
personal habits such as smoking and drinking copious amounts of tea or coffee. Misaligned teeth may point to a nail biting habit while bad breath may reflect poor dental hygiene and the presence of other illnesses. Dental professionals are trained to look for these symptoms and counsel patients to consider altering their lifestyle choices for the sake of their dental health.
Stress Affects Oral Health
Dental professionals are charged with providing care and addressing the issues that patients may have regarding the condition of their teeth, gums and mouth. While many dental problems are due to lifestyle choices and inadequate care, some serious conditions are related to emotional strain. Dental insurance may not explicitly mention emotional factors, but your oral conditions may be symptomatic of these issues.
• Bruxism – This condition involves grinding the teeth, clenching the jaws or a combination of the two. The condition may be caused by factors, such as sleep problems, uneven bite or missing molars or incisors, but bruxism may also be traced to emotional pressures. Grinding could be also be part of nervous tics. Symptoms of bruxism include worn out enamel, flattened dental tips, increased sensitivity in the mouth and indentations in the tongue.
• Temporomandibular Disorders – This set of conditions affect movement of the joints of the jaw, causing pain and stiffness all the way to the neck. Chronic stress may lead to TMD or aggravate a pre-existing condition.
• Periodontal Disease – Emotional factors may contribute to development of gum diseases in adults. Researchers found that patients who reported problems related to problems with personal relationships, jobs and financial situations in the last 12 months developed gum diseases with the severity of the condition increasing with the level of stress. Gum disease may become difficult to resolve once it sets in. This is one of the reasons that dental insurance providers strongly recommend twice a year cleaning and prophylaxis if needed.
• Canker Sores – These oral sores are not contagious, but they could cause pain and discomfort. It may be due to biting the lining of your cheeks or other trauma caused by vigorous oral care. A report in “General Dentistry” discussed how canker sores in students seemed to increase in students while school was in session, but declined during school breaks.
The Dentist as Emotional Counselor
Your dentist is not typically the health care provider you would see for emotional issues, but it is clear that anxiety and other emotional issues may affect your oral health and worsen existing problems. Aside from trauma to the mouth due to biting, grinding and scrubbing, oral care may fall by the wayside when you are under constant emotional pressure.
Dental insurance providers recommend preventive care that includes dental visits, cleaning and some oral health-related counseling. Your annual or bi-annual visits will give your dentist an opportunity to detect changes in your dental health that may be due to emotional pressures. While dentists may not be able to address the emotional aspects directly, they can make sure that your dental health issues are dealt with effectively.
One of the most remarkable things documented in recent academic studies of smiles is that the bigger one’s smile, the longer one’s life will likely be. Wayne State University studied photos of Major League baseball players found on 1952 baseball cards and found a correlation between the players’ lifespans and their smiling.
Researchers have also documented that smiling leads to an improved mood. If you want to feel happier, paying attention to oral health and visiting the dentist on a regular basis is key. When you feel confident about your smile, you are going to be more willing to smile, and thus you will smile more often.
Smiling Improves Your Relationships
It should be no surprise that those who report feeling the most satisfied in their relationships are those who smile a great deal. Some research involving high school yearbooks has shown that those who smile in their yearbook photos tend to feel as if they have effective relationships and are able to connect with others well.
Researchers surveyed people in their current relationships and then compared their answers with their high school yearbook pictures from several decades ago. The result was that those who reported the most happiness in their relationships also had some of the biggest smiles in their high school photos.
The Smiling, Self-Confident You
People who smile a lot are perceived by others to have greater self-confidence, and self-confidence leads to many good things in life. A high level of self-confidence helps you meet new people, makes you more attractive to prospective employers and helps you recover more quickly after a loss.
If you take good care of your mouth, you will be proud of your healthy smile, and you will show it more. Show that smile more, and you will grow in your self-confidence. At the end of the day, others will definitely take notice.
How to Improve Your Smile
Since smiling leads to so many good things, it is vital to maintain good oral health so that you will want to smile frequently. What can you do to improve your smile and dental health? Experts recommend the following:
• Watch Your Diet—Eating too many foods with processed sugars increases your risk of cavities and other dental problems. Your dentist may have also told you that coffee, tea and other beverages can stain your teeth if you are not careful. You do not have to cut out these things entirely, but consuming them in moderation will reduce your odds of cavities and yellowing, both of which make your smile look less than its best.
• Brush Regularly—Brushing after every meal is another proven way to improve your smile. Using your tooth brush like your mom told you to will remove germs, bacteria and other enemies of a good smile.
• Remember to Floss—Lots of people brush on a regular basis. Fewer people floss as often as they should. Yet flossing is the only way to remove bacteria and germs from certain portions of your mouth. Without flossing, these bacteria and germs will grow and multiply, and you may end up with bleeding gums, cavities and lost teeth. None of those things are conducive to a smile of which you can be proud.
• Use Mouthwash—In addition to brushing and flossing, using a good mouthwash will assist you in acquiring the best smile. Mouthwash kills germs you miss when you brush and floss, providing an extra level of smile protection.
• Professional Whitening—Even those who are diligent to care for their smile will find that their teeth get discolored over time. Your dental office can perform professional whitening that will help each tooth look as white as it did the first time it came in to your mouth. A safe, effective whitening procedure is one of the easiest and surest ways to improve your smile.
• Regular Dental Checkups—Finally, seeing your dentist regularly will keep your mouth healthy and your smile looking its best. Your dental provider will be able to catch problems before they get serious and harm your smile. Quality dentists also provide a level of care that makes sure your daily routine of brushing and flossing is actually achieving the results you are seeking.
Keep Your Smile Healthy
Good oral health means a healthy smile, which leads to a longer life, a happier disposition and many other benefits. Pay attention to your smile by doing what you can to keep it in good health, and you will reap the rewards.