It’s often said that keeping healthy teeth and gums is beneficial, not to say essential for personal well-being on many levels. From better overall health to stronger self-confidence, a beautiful healthy smile is a great asset. But to what extent does it affect the way we perceive our own worth?
Based on a survey by DentaVox, 89% of people believe that good oral health contributes to better self-esteem. Furthermore, most of the respondents associate high self-evaluation with dental appearance rather than with the status of oral health. In general, dental conditions seem to be more widespread amongst respondents with lower self-esteem. For instance, 60% of respondents with very low self-esteem report problems with bleeding gums in comparison to 30% of respondents with very high self-esteem.
The infographic below highlights some of the key findings from the survey in two main aspects:
- Appearance or health status: which has a stronger influence on self-esteem?
- How widespread are dental issues among people with different self-evaluation?
Appearance or health status
64% of people believe that the look of teeth contributes more to better self-esteem than the lack of oral health concerns. This finding doesn’t come as a surprise in view of the relationship between satisfaction with general appearance and self-evaluation. Despite opposing opinions on which one is the cause and which one is the consequence, their interconnection is widely recognized. With regards to oral health, a previous study among Indian adolescents found that teens who are not satisfied with the appearance of their teeth are also more likely to have lower self-esteem.
Dental issues by self-esteem groups
The most common dental problems among all participants in the study, bad breath, change in teeth color and bleeding gums, are up to 2 times more prevalent amongst people with low self-evaluation than those with higher. Unlike yellow teeth and gum disease which impact the look of teeth, bad breath is not associated with visual appearance. Yet, its link with self-esteem is not surprising. Unpleasant mouth odors may lead to embarrassment and a lack of confidence.
These findings correspond with prior research, which found that participants with high self-esteem had better clinical oral health status than participants with low self-esteem despite a lack of significant difference in their oral hygiene habits. Furthermore, in the same study over half of the participants with low self-evaluation suffered from moderate gum inflammation whereas only 5% of those with a high perception of one’s worth had it.
Without a longitudinal study with assessment of self-esteem over a longer period of time, e.g. before and after treatment of dental issues, we cannot claim a cause-and-effect relationship. However, the significant variations among the self-esteem group indicate a close connection between the two.
For more insights from the survey: