It’s easy to take a great smile for granted if you’ve always had one. However, not everyone has that luxury. The truth is that the majority of adults have at least one cosmetic issue with their teeth. These range from slight irregularities to serious damage, but all of them can have a negative effect. However, the psychological benefits of cosmetic dentistry are almost entirely positive.
The Psychological Benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry
As with all cosmetic irregularities, perception is as powerful as the reality. Even a minor inconsistency can negatively affect your self-esteem if you’re hyper-aware of it. You may avoid smiling, cover your mouth when you talk or display any number of other behaviors that display a lack of self-confidence. If any of this sounds familiar, then cosmetic dentistry may be right for you.
Your Teeth and Your Psychological Health
The connection between the physical appearance of your teeth and your psychological health may not be immediately apparent. But take a moment to consider everything you do to hide your teeth from others. Every time you suppress a smile or cover your mouth when you talk, you’re reinforcing negative messages about yourself. These repetitive negative thoughts are gradually changing the way you perceive yourself and damaging your self-esteem over time.
This isn’t just a theory. Scientific research has repeatedly shown that cosmetic dentistry has a positive effect on the self-esteem of patients. One such study evaluated the self-esteem of 44 patients. Seventeen of the patients were unhappy with their dental appearance. The study compared their self-esteem to a slightly larger control group that were not unhappy with their dental appearance. At the beginning of the study, the participants rated their self-esteem at similar levels with some variation from person to person.
In the second part of the study, the participants who were unhappy with their dental appearance received cosmetic dental veneers. These ultra-thin porcelain shells fit over the front of your teeth, giving the impression of a perfect, natural smile. The results speak for themselves, and the researchers witnessed a substantial spike in the participants’ self-esteem after the procedure. Based on the data, it is safe to say that cosmetic dentistry helped improve the participants’ self-image and created a positive trend in their psychological health.
Despite the research, many people still choose to forgo cosmetic dentistry. The reasons vary from person to person. But many people seem to think that cosmetic dentistry is about vanity rather than about health. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Differentiating Between Vanity and Health
There is nothing vain about wanting to smile freely without embarrassment. In fact, smiling more is actually beneficial to your physical health. Every time you smile, it sends a signal to your brain to release endorphins and other “feel good” hormones. These hormones help your body deal with stress and are partially responsible for the way you experience positive emotions.
If that wasn’t a good enough reason by itself, social psychologists have shown that people who smile freely are generally found to be more trustworthy and attractive. In several studies, researchers showed that strangers were more likely to actively avoid people who smiled less.
Therefore, addressing cosmetic issues that may prevent you from showing your true self is not a question of vanity. It’s a question of reality.
For patients with mild to severe cosmetic dental issues, porcelain veneers and other cosmetic procedures can make a world of difference in terms of appearance and psychological well-being. For a full examination and consultation, contact your local cosmetic dentistry office at Valley Alder. Dr. Alpesh Patel will provide you with realistic treatment plans that address your concerns, giving you an opportunity to smile freely again.