Going to the dentist has previously been proven to vastly improve not only your physical health but your self-perception as well. People who regularly visit the dentist are significantly 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.
Kariza Fernandes was beaten beyond recognition by her own husband, who trapped her in a van and threw her out of the vehicle as he accelerated.
She woke up in the hospital and immediately got a sense of the damage that had been done when she saw everyone staring at her. A look in the mirror revealed what Fernandes described as a “dead person walking.” The magnetic smile she was known for had been completely destroyed, leaving her 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, and a friend of hers knew exactly who to call.
“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, and when you have the reward of making somebody smile and making them feel good about themselves, there’s nothing better.”
In a single operation, Dr. Roth resurrected his patient’s smile so effectively that 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 as tears of joy streamed down her face.
“It was the time that I valued the mirror the most in my life, when I saw my smile back,” she said.
Dr. Roth was moved by her reaction since most patients usually do not look at him with such gratitude and joy during an appointment.
“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 to a person’s confidence and overall emotional state. The operation restored Fernandes’ self-esteem, allowing her to see the bright future ahead of her.
“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”
Fernandes’ transformation ultimately inspired her to go back to work as a fashion designer and donate a portion of sales from her clothing line to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence. 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.
The observations your dentist makes while examining your teeth aren’t just limited to oral hygiene. Certain oral health problems can actually be early signs of increasingly dire conditions that effect your entire body, even conditions you didn’t know you had.
Good oral health is an indicator of good overall health, significantly decreasing your risk for a wide variety of diseases and disorders, ranging from highly-preventable to life-threatening. The following conditions are just a few that your dentist can detect simply by looking inside your mouth:
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, the medical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism is more frequently observed 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 more dull 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 to exercise or even psychological counseling. Stress management is reportedly the most effective method for eliminating the habit for good.
Much like severe stress, acid reflux is so widespread that many sufferers don’t even know they have it. Your dentist, however, might confirm your suspicions of the disorder after noticing erosion of tooth enamel and dentine, which is the soft layer beneath the enamel. Acid reflux causes gastric acid, or stomach bile, to move up your esophagus and erode enamel, particularly in the upper back molars.
An excessive amount of saliva could clue your dentist in to acid reflux as well. This symptom involves the same nerves and reflexes as vomiting, since the body is trying to flush out something that is irritating your esophagus.
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, but the most common is the decline of previously good oral hygiene habits. Alcohol inhibits the production of saliva, causing the mouth to dry out. Without saliva, oral bacteria does not get washed away and can therefore result in myriad conditions and oral problems, beginning with cavities.
When a patient who used to possess good oral health suddenly begins to develop high levels of plaque or gum disease, the early stages of alcoholism might be the culprit. Both of these symptoms evolve at a faster pace than usual in patients who increase their alcohol consumption.
A string of oral health problems, such as gum disease, bleeding gums, enamel erosion, or loose teeth, is an indicator of 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 and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These outcomes can be prevented through regular dental visits, since cleanings 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’d be surprised to learn that the dentist can bestow more advice than just brushing or flossing.
Should your dentist have reason to suspect the presence of one of the aforementioned conditions, it should be taken as a warning that your overall health is at risk unless you seek further treatment. For those who don’t want to develop the conditions in the first place, you can begin by visiting the dentists every six months, a major step towards living a longer and healthier life.
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 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 thecycle 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.
Drink Water for a Healthy Smile
Most people want an attractive smile. It is usually the first thing that someone notices. Following a solid oral care routine that is filled with brushing and flossing is important but 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. When you drink water, you 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.
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. Drinking water 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, water 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
May 7, 2017 kicks off “Drinking Water Week.” Most people know how the body needs water, 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.
With the rise of social media, the availability or user-friendly apps and access to high-resolution cameras on phones or tablets, self-portraits have become the documentary of modern times. These developments have certainly made it quicker and easier to take candid photos, emphasizing the importance of having a camera-ready smile all the time. While many have mastered the art of always looking good in photos, there are multitudes who 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 an awkward smile.
Anatomy of a Healthy Smile
If you were to examine the most dazzling smiles on celebrities or commercial models, you would notice a common element. Fresh, dewy skin and perfect lips help, but these are not the most important factors that determine the appeal of a smile. The one element that automatically qualifies a smile as an appealing one is having healthy teeth. It is always possible to smile without exposing your teeth, but the type of smile that usually draws a reaction is one that flashes your pearly whites in all their well-cared for glory. It is the kind of smile that reaches your eyes and almost automatically draws a positive response from others. Smiling is contagious: Evidence from various social research projects indicate that humans have an instinct for facial mimicry as a way to develop empathy and understanding of the other person’s experience or feelings. Inability to mirror the other person’s face limits your own ability to read their verbal and nonverbal messages and react appropriately to their expressions.
Importance of Dental Health
A healthy smile begins with good dental health. When it comes to oral health, there is no substitute for consistently practicing dentist-recommended habits such as brushing at least twice daily, flossing once a day and using your choppers only as intended. It is tempting to open packages with your incisors or use your canines to cut off stuff because they are handier than scissors, but these practices can damage the enamel and even the roots. For that matter, you should also pay make sure that no tooth is ever exposed to undue stress such as very hard food, overly sticky pieces and extreme temperature changes. Visiting your dentist at least twice a year is good practice because only trained and licensed professionals should perform the checks and procedures needed to keep your mouth healthy.
Smiles Should Come Naturally
You are more confident when you don’t have to worry about hiding a snaggletooth or other tooth imperfections such as discoloration, chipping or missing dentition. You tend to be friendlier when you’re not dealing with an abscess or a painful cavity. Many put up with these issues because of a fear of dentists, inadequate access to dental care, financial constraints and lack of dental insurance. Even when you have none of these issues but suffer from uneven or misaligned teeth, it is nearly impossible to smile naturally. As often happens, the tendency is to compensate for the imperfection by keeping the lips together for a closed-mouth smile, which is often unconvincing and uncomfortable.
Smile Makeover 101
Smiling is not only a form of expression, it is also part of a set of critical social skills that help you navigate through life. The good news is that an imperfect smile can be made more perfect with proper care and the help of professionals. With dental insurance, you will have access to the professional care that will 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.