Your smile has a huge impact on how you feel about yourself, and on how others see you. The smile is easily one of the most noticeable features on the human face. When it’s healthy and complete, people tend to look youthful and well-groomed. Understanding this, it’s not uncommon to become less social, less proactive, and less confident when your smile isn’t perfect. Following are five reasons why your smile impacts your self-esteem, and why you should take action to correct it.
1. A Healthy Smile Is a Functional One
Aesthetic issues affecting the smile often go hand-in-hand with functional problems. If you’ve got one or more missing teeth, or teeth that are cracked and low-functioning, you probably have a hard time chewing your food and speaking clearly. Efforts to only use the teeth that are structurally intact can make eating in front of others a veritable nightmare. People who chew loudly often do so simply because they’re working with fewer teeth than everyone else. They also have more choking incidents, and embarrassing issues with weakened teeth that crack, fracture, or break off entirely during meals.
Enunciation can be especially challenging if you have several missing teeth at the front of the mouth. When tooth loss isn’t treated with dental implants, dental bridges, or even partial dentures, it tends to be a progressive issue. Over time, as more teeth are lost, you may develop a lisp, accidentally drool when making certain sounds, or simply have an all-around difficult time getting others to understand you. All of these issues can be further compounded by the fact that you’ll likely try to hide your missing teeth while talking.
2. Your Smile Makes an Impression on Others and You Know It
People tend to be more understanding of cosmetic issues affecting others when they’re dealing with these same problems themselves. For instance, as you grow older, you may judge people with loose and sagging skin less harshly as you start seeing fine lines and creases appear on your own visage. With teeth, however, certain generalizations are always made. Knowing these generalizations can make living with tooth loss and noticeable tooth damage especially embarrassing. Unresolved tooth loss is frequently associated with poverty, poor self-care, old age, drug use, and flagging health. There are no positive justifications for missing and badly damaged teeth that people are likely to make when seeing them. When you meet someone, as soon as they smile, their teeth tell you a lot about them. Although your perceptions may be incorrect, they will always remain your first impression. Recognizing this can make you feel incredibly self-conscious about your own diminished smile aesthetics.
3. Getting Up Close and Personal Is No Longer an Option
On television and in movies, people have perfectly even, perfectly white, perfectly spaced teeth. Watching them lean in to whisper into the ears of their loved ones, or tilt their heads to receive a kiss, may make you long for the days when getting close with others was done with such confidence. Sadly, neglecting tooth damage frequently results in unpleasant mouth odors. This is because chipped, cracked, and fractured teeth allow harmful, odor-causing bacteria in. Once they enter these spaces, they proliferate and create embarrassing smells. Not only does getting close to others give them a chance to view your incomplete smile head-on, but it also means that they might catch a whiff of any broken, infected, or otherwise damaged teeth in your mouth. Both mouth odors and smile aesthetics are further compounded when flagging tooth health is paired with untreated gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease.
4. There’s No Way to Dress Up an Unhealthy Smile
If your skin breaks out, you can always cover the worst of your blemishes with a suitable foundation. If you have a bad hair day, you can pull your hair back or put on a cap. When you feel bloated or bulgy, you can wear looser clothes, don a large comfy sweater, or even pull on some shapewear. Your smile, however, can’t really be accessorized or concealed. The only way to minimize the look of smile features that you don’t like is by smiling less, laughing less, and keeping your distance from others. Whether consciously or unconsciously done, these actions can make you seem less approachable, less social, and less marketable all-around. Worse still, if you’re doing them in the workplace, they may be harming your career.
5. It’s Not Going to Get Better on Its Own
The most psychologically damaging part of having an incomplete or unhealthy smile is the knowledge that it isn’t going to get any better on its own. Living with cosmetic dental issues isn’t like having a massive pimple or a bad hair day. These problems aren’t going to clear up without treatment. Worse still, if you don’t take action, they’ll invariably get worse. Continuing to chew with broken or fractured teeth will cause increasingly widespread harm. Subjecting your remaining, healthy teeth to extra bite forces will increase your likelihood of tooth decay, progressive tooth loss, and more. In fact, without functional tooth replacement, tooth loss can even lead to the deterioration of your jawbone. When this happens, the face will take on an aged, hollow look and the skin will start to sag. Not liking how you look, and not being able to look ahead to better, brighter days and a healthier smile can tear your self-image down completely.
The good news is that there can be better days ahead. You simply have to make a concerted effort to proactively tackle the functional and cosmetic issues that you currently have, and before they spiral further out of control. If you’re worried about the cost, don’t try to fix everything at once. A seasoned, reputable dentist can help you establish a feasible, affordable plan for reversing smile damages and regaining your self-esteem.