The quality of life

Deborah Lyle explores the links between oral and general health.

Oral hygiene and dental care are evidently important for preventing and treating various conditions. However, for patients this is often not a purely medical matter. Physical attractiveness is subjective and difficult to categorically define, for the purposes of this article we will consider physical attractiveness as features that are generally perceived as aesthetically pleasing or inoffensive to the majority in society at this present time. Decaying or lost teeth, bad breath, and other perceptible indicators of poor oral health are commonly regarded as detracting from a person's attractiveness.


There is an observable and deep-rooted bias that physical attractiveness correlates with positive personality traits and behaviors, sometimes referred to as the` beautiful is good `stereotype or the halo effect. This influences how people react to and think about others, with attractiveness being associated with greater wealth, employability, morality, and one`s suitability as a romantic partner.


Edentulism can have a profound impact on an individual`s quality of life (QOL), particulary in the absence of treatment. A German study reported that participants with fewer than nine teeth remaining in the maxilla had QOL scores between those of people suffering renal disease and cancer. The study authors concluded that a major reason for the quality of life to be so drastically lowered for these patients was that edentulism in the maxilla impairs verbal communication and so limits social participation.


Considerably less severe oral conditions than edentulism can still play an outsized role in patients` social lives and psychological wellbeing. Malaligned or discoloured teeth, halitosis and other oral health issues can be off-putting to others, which can obviously affect their social and love lives to one degree or another.

Moreover, dissatisfaction with one`s own dental appearance and condition has been observed to negatively Impact a person`s self-esteem, which can in turn have negative social and psychological consequences. A reduction in self-esteem can also further distort an individual`s perception of their own attractiveness in negative ways, potentially leading to a downward spiral.


While we may wish otherwise, advancing one`s career is not a totally meritocratic activity. People who are perceived as less attractive can face greater difficulties gaining employment and can experience slower career advancement. While this may be somewhat understandable for certain positions such as customer facing roles, being perceived as unattractive can impact a person`s employability even for jobs where it should have no bearing whatsoever on their ability to perform a role.


This effect is not just a matter of the employer`s perception or biases. Where individuals hold a negative self-image, it has a negative effect on their employability. This applies even where there is a disconnect between the person`s self perception and their outward appearance.

Lower socio-economic status has been associated with lower standards of oral health across a wide-body of research. The reasons for this our complex, but given the effect that aesthetics can have on employability alone, the problem is likely something of vicious circle. There may be a silver lining to this – by helping a patient with their oral health and recommending proven adjuncts, like the waterpik Water Flosser, you could positively influence seemingly unrelated aspects of their lives.


It is well established that oral and general health influences each other. This does not just apply to an individual`s physical wellbeing, but to their psychosocial status as well.


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