Shy Smiles: How Your Oral Health May Be Impacting Your Social Life – And How To Fix It
You may have heard yourself referred to as shy or demure. Or perhaps you’ve been called their less-flattering cousins; standoffish, grim, and antisocial. While these labels are sometimes unfairly placed, at times, they can be a direct result of your behavior. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the way we behave socially can stem from a huge range of emotional and physical issues, including a lack of self-confidence. To dive even deeper, that lowered self-esteem can be fueled by physical insecurities, including your oral health. Here are some of the most common ways your oral health can harm your sense of self-worth – and ways to fix them.
The Problem: There are two types of people who suffer from bad breath (or halitosis) – those that are aware of the issue, and those that aren’t. If you’re aware of the issue, you may be constantly thinking about your halitosis whenever you’re interacting with someone. Whether it’s a first date or a job interview, these thoughts can distract you and keep you from getting what you want. On the flip side, those that don’t know they suffer from bad breath may be inadvertently turning off friends, love interests, and co-workers who are too polite to hand you a breath mint. If you notice people take a physical step back when speaking in close proximity to you, consider whether it’s because of your breath – especially if you’re a perpetual coffee drinker or smoker.
The Solution: The good news is, there are tons of solutions out there to help negate dragon breath. First and foremost, make sure you’re flossing and brushing enough – including your tongue – to help slay the bacteria that may otherwise build up. While mouthwash, gum, and mints can be good short-term fixes, there are other, longer-term strategies that may help. Make sure you’re drinking enough water – it will help generate more bacteria-killing saliva. Another option is to brush up with baking soda once a day to not only brighten your teeth, but also neutralize the acids that build up on your teeth and cause halitosis. Keep in mind that bad breath can also stem from gum disease. If you have gum disease, your gums may pull away from your teeth, allowing bacteria and plaque to build up that can’t be cleaned with regular brushing. A periodontal (gum) cleaning and ongoing attention to your gum issues could help neutralize bad breath for good and make you feel totally fine with getting up close and personal.
Crooked or Cracked Teeth
The Problem: That person in photos with a glum, close-mouthed smile? That’s you. If you’re self-conscious about the position of your teeth – whether they overlap, jut out, are chipped or have gaps between them – it can be challenging to feel good about showing off those pearly whites. The trouble is, when you’re afraid to smile, it can give off the impression that you’re either not enjoying yourself or that you are unapproachable.
The Solution: If you don’t like some aspect of your smile, chances are you haven’t had orthodontics. Most adults, when they hear that word, immediately think of a mouth full of metal braces. But advancements in the orthodontics industry have made it possible to get a perfectly straight smile more efficiently, with more cosmetically appealing options like Invisalign or tooth-colored braces. Braces will also help correct issues that will boost your overall oral health, like bite alignment. Another option is cosmetic bonding, which involves applying a custom, color-matched resin to blend with your teeth to repair small chips, cracks, or gaps. It’s a quick and relatively painless way to rid yourself of those little defects you don’t love. For more serious issues, porcelain veneers can be applied to filed down teeth to give you that perfectly straight smile you’ve always dreamed of. Once you feel good about your smile, you’re sure to feel better and more confident overall.
Stained or Yellow Teeth
The Problem: There are many causes out there for discolored or dull teeth – from an intense coffee habit to smoking to genetics. In most cultures however, yellow teeth tends to symbolize poor health, which can cause people to be physically repulsed and potentially bar you from making new social or professional connections. As a result, you may be nervous about showing off your teeth when meeting new people, causing you to not smile or have awkward facial expressions.
The Solution: A dazzling white smile is a simple tooth whitening treatment away. You can actually get a high impact treatment while visiting the dentist in as little as an hour, or you can opt for a take-home kit that will gradually brighten your teeth over a series of weeks. If you do whiten your smile, be sure to keep up with brushing your teeth and stay away from indulging in bad habits like smoking, or drinking colored beverages such as tea, sports drinks, or coffee. Soon enough, you’ll be the one beaming in photos.