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Lucy Stock is a columnist for the Irish News

Good Teeth Can Help Happiness

by Lucy Stock BDS DipImpDent RCS (Eng)

Published in the Irish News . 05.03.2014

During the reign of Elizabeth I it actually became fashionable to paint one’s teeth black. This came about due to Queen Elizabeth’s I fondness of sweets, which ultimately caused her teeth to decay and turn black. If you wanted to look fashionable and prosperous in the 16th Century, painting your teeth black showed that you were able to afford enough sweets to destroy your teeth.

Fortunately this trend fizzled out and today it’s a much different story. Research by Oasis dental group has shown that 70% of people with bad teeth say it’s negatively affected their lives and 5.4 million people say they try to hide their smile or even avoid smiling altogether. 31% people say that having bad teeth has eroded their self-esteem so much that it has made them feel less confident in public. A poorly maintained mouth is making 2.1 million of us feel depressed and is even stopping 3% of people leaving the house. 10% don’t speak as much as they would if they had better teeth and one million people say that their love life has been negatively affected.

Most of us understand that low self-esteem can lead to depression and general unhappiness. Now, new research suggests it can also change the way our brains function. Research published in the Oxford Journal Cerebral Cortex indicates that having low self-esteem can alter the manner in which our brains interpret social feedback. Conducted at Dartmouth, the study showed that people tend to be more sensitive to social cues when they suffer from low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem tend to think that other people are judging them more harshly. In an ideal world, society would accept us no matter what we looked like. In terms of our smile it’s great to find the balance between accepting what we look like and growing our self-esteem regardless of appearance. Some people feel that the condition of their teeth is just too much of a barrier to think about growing their self-confidence until their dentist has rejuvenated their smile. Replacing missing teeth, straightening crooked teeth or whitening dark teeth are just some of the treatments that can give people back the confidence to smile again. This allows the true personality to shine through and help gain a happier state of mind.