Could cosmetic dentistry help survivors heal from domestic abuse? Research shows that going to the dentist can vastly improve both physical health and self-perception. People who regularly visit the dentist are far more likely to find financial and romantic success, just a few of the endless benefits of a perfect smile.

But even south Florida dentist Dr. Steven Roth couldn’t have predicted the magical reaction his care would evoke from a recent patient.

Recovery from Domestic Abuse

Kariza Fernandes’ husband beat her beyond recognition. Sadly, he trapped her in a van and threw her out of the vehicle as he accelerated.

stop domestic abuse

Dentists may not be able to stop domestic abuse, but they can help survivors heal.

She woke up in the hospital and immediately got a sense of the damage she had sustained when she saw everyone staring at her. A look in the mirror revealed what Fernandes described as a “dead person walking.”

The violent abuse had completely destroyed the magnetic smile people associated with her. She was left with a broken jaw, broken nose and five missing teeth.

Fernandes’ jaw was wired shut throughout the next few months to prepare her for several surgeries that would repair her facial wounds. The next step was reconstructing her teeth. Fortunately, a friend of hers knew exactly who to call.

The Rewards of Making Someone Smile

“When I heard about Kariza’s case, I’m like, I would love to do it,” Dr. Roth told CBS Miami. “Dentistry is an interesting art,” Roth said. “When you have the reward of making somebody smile and making them feel good about themselves, there’s nothing better.”

Learn more: How This Dentist Became the #1 Pick for Dozens of Supermodels

In a single operation, Dr. Roth resurrected this domestic abuse survivor’s smile. In fact, he was so successful, it appeared as though no visible traces of the attack remained.

When Dr. Roth showed Fernandes the results of the cosmetic procedure, she was so overcome with emotion that she could barely speak. Only tears of joy streamed down her face.

The Importance of a Healthy Smile

“It was the time that I valued the mirror the most in my life, when I saw my smile back,” she said.

domestic abuse and cosmetic dentistry

A healthy smile can boost confidence and overall emotional state.

Dr. Roth was moved by her reaction. After all, few patients  look at him with such gratitude and joy during an appointment.

He explained:

“As a dentist, we always hear, ‘I hate the dentist,’ or ‘I hate going to the dentist.’ It’s nice when someone comes out smiling and feeling better than when they came in.”

Dr. Roth’s stunning work is a reminder of how important a healthy smile is. A healthy smile can boost confidence and overall emotional state. The operation restored Fernandes’ self-esteem. It allowed her to see the bright future ahead.

“One smile, one tooth can change a person’s whole character, personality, feelings,” she said. “I looked at it as a rebirth. I was reborn again”

Helping Other Domestic Abuse Survivors

Fernandes’ transformation ultimately inspired her to go back to work as a fashion designer. Now, she donates a portion of sales from her clothing line to organizations that help victims of domestic abuse. According to CBS Miami, approximately 75% of domestic violence wounds effect the head, neck and mouth, so it’s safe to say Fernandes donations could very well help other victims bring back their smiles.

“If we all had Kariza’s charisma and her inspiration the world would be a better place,” said Dr. Roth. “And let’s make it that way.  Let’s focus on the positive.  Let’s bring people forward and help each other.  The world would be a lot better.”

Fernandes is not the only victim of serious violence who has been transformed by Dr. Roth. A firm believer in charity work, he once donated a whole month of his services to reconstructing the smiles of war veterans.

Read Next: 5 Reasons Healthy Smiles Lead to Success

The observations your dentist makes during a dental exam aren’t just limited to oral hygiene. Certain oral health problems can actually be early signs of increasingly dire conditions. These may effect your entire body, even conditions you didn’t know you had.

Good oral health is an indicator of good overall health. It significantly decreases your risk for a wide variety of diseases and disorders. These range from highly-preventable to life-threatening. The following conditions are just a few that your dentist can detect simply by looking inside your mouth.

Excessive Stress

It is extremely common for people to experience high levels of stress. Therefore it’s difficult to determine when that level becomes unsafe. One way to tell that stress is on the verge of impacting your overall health is bruxism. This is the medical term for teeth grinding. Dentists see bruxism more frequently in patients who have trouble sleeping due to stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Dentists can detect bruxism when they see a healthy tooth that is smaller and duller than it should be. “The surfaces of the teeth become flat and the teeth get worn down,” Charles Rankin, DDS and professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, told the Huffington Post.

Your dentist might suggest a night guard to prevent bruxism. In addition,  exercise or even psychological counseling can help. Stress management is reportedly the most effective method for eliminating the habit for good.

Acid Reflux

Like severe stress, acid reflux is so widespread that many don’t even know they have it. Your dentist, however, might confirm your suspicions of the disorder. The warning sign: erosion of tooth enamel and dentine, the soft layer beneath the enamel. Acid reflux causes gastric acid, or stomach bile, to move up your esophagus. This can erode tooth enamel, particularly in the upper back molars.

In addition, an excessive amount of saliva could clue your dentist in to acid reflux. This symptom involves the same nerves and reflexes as vomiting, since the body is trying to flush out something that is irritating your esophagus.

Excessive Drinking

Your dentist will be one of the first people to notice you are drinking too much. A number of observations could lead to this conclusion. However, the most common is the decline of previously good oral hygiene habits. Alcohol inhibits the production of saliva. This causes the mouth to dry out. Saliva helps wash oral bacteria away to help prevent many conditions and oral problems.

When a patient who used to have good oral health shows high levels of plaque or gum disease, alcoholism might be the reason. Both of these symptoms evolve at a faster pace than usual in people who increase their alcohol consumption.

Diabetes

A string of oral health problems, such as gum disease, bleeding gums, enamel erosion, or loose teeth, may point to diabetes. “Among people that are unaware of whether they have diabetes or not, poor gum status has been shown to be associated with diabetes,” Panos Papapanou, DDS and professor of dental medicine at Columbia University told the Huffington Post. “This is a pretty critical situation in which a dentist can help to identify undiagnosed diabetes.”

Diabetics are reportedly three times more likely to experience the most severe type of gum disease. Bacterial infections can also worsen other diabetic symptoms. In addition, they may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. You can help prevent these outcomes with regular dental visits. That’s because cleanings help stop bacteria from getting under the gums.

 

Wouldn’t You Rather Not Deal With These Problems At All?

It’s very important to tell your dentist about any oral problems you are having, even those that seem relatively negligible. You may be surprised to learn that the dentist can bestow more advice than just brushing or flossing.

If dentist suspects the presence any of the conditions above, you should take it as a warning that your overall health is at risk. For those who don’t want to develop the conditions in the first place, begin by visiting the dentists every six months. That alone is a major step towards living a longer and healthier life.

Read next: Dental Inequality in America

Depression is a hot topic in the modern world. Many people struggle with it, and many others are concerned about watching for the signs so they don’t miss something that could potentially save a loved one’s life.

Along with life-threatening concerns like suicide, depression can cause a variety of other problems that most people don’t even realize. Even something as simple as the ability to laugh or smile could be affected.

The first full week of May (7th-13th) recognizes National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week.

The Fear of Smiling: How Does Poor Dental Health Create Ongoing Sadness?

Science has already taught us that an unhealthy mouth can increase your risk of heart problems, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. Did you know that it can also affect your chances of getting depression? Researchers have found a strong relationship between cavities, gum disease and mental health problems.

An unhealthy mouth can lead to problems in many ways, causing you to:

  • Feel ashamed of your teeth.
  • Avoid dating or other social interactions.
  • Experience nagging pain from cavities that lowers your mood and wears on you daily.
  • Have a higher level of inflammation in your body, possibly triggering other health conditions.
  • Abuse drugs, alcohol or painkillers in an effort to reduce anxiety.

Oral Health and Mental Health: How Do You Break the Nasty Cycle?

It’s probably easy to see how this could become an unhealthy self-feeding cycle. Not only does your mood and self-confidence plummet when dealing with dental problems, but a low mood can also cause you to have difficulty taking care of your teeth properly.

Anxiety and isolation cause the body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to more cavities and gum disease. As the problem continues to worsen, you lose hope, and eventually, you give up on yourself all together.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to break the cycle by getting your teeth looked at by a professional. If your self-esteem is low, you might not want to do this. You might convince yourself that you don’t deserve treatment, but please know that your health, happiness and smile are all worth fighting for.

Smiling and Happiness: Which Comes First?

You already know that it’s difficult to smile when you’re depressed, but did you know smiling can help reduce sadness? It’s obvious that the emotions that lead to a smile make us feel good, but researchers have discovered that the physical act of smiling can also trick our minds into producing more feel-good chemicals.

A 2009 study from the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who had Botox injections felt happier on average, and it’s believed this might be due to their inability to frown. While Botox is certainly not for everyone, this does shed some light on the fact that simply practicing the act of smiling can help people feel better.

If you’re depressed and haven’t smiled recently, try faking it for a while. If that doesn’t work, find a sweet or funny video to watch. Don’t pressure yourself to heal from your sadness in a day. It’s impossible in most cases.

Instead, focus on setting small, easy-to-accomplish goals, such as spending a few minutes smiling, reaching out to a friend or scheduling an appointment with the dentist. With a good checkup, cleaning and treatment recommendation, you should be on track to healing your dental problems and feeling better about your smile in no time.

Read next: 5 Reasons Healthy Smiles Lead to Success

drinking water plays a key role in preserving your teeth

Drinking water plays a key role in preserving your teeth.

Most people want an attractive smile. It is usually the first thing that someone notices. Following a solid dental care routine that is filled with brushing and flossing is important. However, drinking water plays a key role in preserving your teeth, and it brings many oral health benefits.

Keep Stains Away

Certain foods and beverages, including coffee, wine, and berries, cause discoloration of your tooth enamel. Staining can dampen your smile and cause your pearly whites to look dingy.

Regular hydration helps dilute the items so that they do not cause a negative reaction in your mouth. When you consume anything that leads to staining, it is advised to drink and rinse with water so that your mouth is properly flushed.

Prevent Cavities

When you eat a candy bar or a similar sweet treat, follow it with a glass of water.

When you eat a candy bar or a similar sweet treat, follow it with a glass of water.

Water is a helpful tool that keeps sugars and acids from harming your mouth. When you eat sugary foods, they turn into acids that eat at your enamel and cause cavities.

For example, when you eat a candy bar or a similar sweet treat, follow it with a glass of water. This is not a replacement for brushing your teeth, but it is a good way to eliminate acids that can have a devastating effect on your oral health.

Freshen Your Breath

Nothing is worse than the embarrassment of bad breath. When you are kissing your sweetheart or are in the middle of a meeting with an important client, the last thing you want to do is to worry about your breath.

When your mouth is dry, anaerobic bacteria is produced. This is common when you first wake up. If you frequently drink water throughout the day, your mouth stays moist, and the environment where bacteria thrives is eliminated. Also, this helps to get rid of leftover food that becomes trapped in the crevices of your mouth. This means that there is nothing for bacteria to feed upon.

Celebrate National Drink Water Week

pure, clean water

Our bodies need to stay hydrated.

May 7, 2017 kicks off “Drinking Water Week.” Most people know how the body needs to stay hydrated, but few comprehend the positive effects that it brings to your oral health.

After learning how water benefits you mouth, you will want to incorporate it into your daily activities. It is an easy way to keep your smile looking as beautiful as possible.

Read Next: Oral Health and Pot Use Concerns

Healthy smiles help people look great in photos.

A healthy smile helps people look great in photos

With the rise of social media, our smiles have grown more important than ever. Access to high-resolution cameras on phones or tablets mean self-portraits have become the social currency of our times.

These developments have certainly made it quicker and easier to take candid photos. Therefore, people feel the importance of having a camera-ready smile all the time.

While many have mastered the art of always looking good in photos, others shy away from spontaneous photo sessions. Some may be introverts, eccentrics or fiercely private individuals. But for others, the underlying cause of their camera shyness may be as simple as poor oral health.

Anatomy of a Healthy Smile

The one factor that automatically qualifies smiles as appealing is having healthy teeth.

The one factor that automatically qualifies a smile as appealing is having healthy teeth.

If you were to examine the most dazzling smiles on celebrities or commercial models, you’d notice a common element. Fresh, dewy skin and perfect lips help, but these are not a smile’s most important elements. The one factor that automatically qualifies a smile as appealing is having healthy teeth.

Learn more: How This Dentist Became the #1 Pick for Dozens of Supermodels

It’s always possible to smile without exposing your teeth. However, the type of smile that usually draws a reaction is one that flashes your pearly whites in all their well-cared for glory. It’s the kind of smile that almost automatically draws a positive response from others.

Smiling is contagious. Evidence from various social research projects show that humans have an instinct for facial mimicry. It’s a way to develop empathy and understanding of other people’s experiences or feelings.

An inability to mirror the other facial expressions limits your own ability to read verbal and nonverbal cues. It may also prevent you from reacting appropriately in social situations.

Importance of Dental Health

A healthy smile begins with good oral health. There’s no substitute for brushing at least twice daily, flossing once a day and using your choppers only as intended.

It’s tempting to open packages with your incisors or use your canines to cut stuff. Teeth are handier than scissors. However, these practices can damage tooth enamel and roots.

In addition, protect your tooth against undue stress, such as very hard or overly sticky foods and extreme temperature changes. Visiting your dentist at least twice a year is good habit to embrace. That’s because only trained and licensed professionals can perform the checks and procedures needed to keep your mouth healthy.

Learn more: Can dental problems cause health problems?

Smiles Should Come Naturally

family group with big smiles

People tend to smile and be more friendly when they feel healthy.

You are more confident when you don’t have to worry about hiding tooth imperfections such as discoloration, chipping or missing teeth. People tend to smile and be more friendly when they feel healthy.

Many put up with these issues. That may be due to fear of dentists, poor access to dental care, financial constraints or lack of dental insurance. Even without such issues, people sometimes suffer from uneven or misaligned teeth. That can make it nearly impossible to smile naturally.

Smile Makeover 101

Smiling is not only a form of expression, it’s also part of a set of critical social skills that help us navigate through life. The good news: an imperfect smile can be made more perfect with proper care and professional help.

With dental insurance, you’ll have access to professional care to help keep your mouth healthy for a camera-ready smile at all times. The month of May is designated as Photograph Month, which would be a good time for a personal smile review and makeover.

Read Next: How This Dentist Became the #1 Pick for Dozens of Supermodels