We often talk about the physical problems that result from a bad smile, including issues like difficulty chewing, plaque build-up, and poor overall oral health. However, the serious and lasting social impact of a bad smile that can affect mental health.
Our culture is already fairly obsessed with “looking good.” We prioritize having perfect skin, diet and weight loss, and going to the gym whenever possible. Plus, we’re taught from a young age that imperfections in our appearance will be judged by others, and this fear leads to intense self scrutiny.
While a better smile does help improve self confidence, the effects are far different and better than those from a superficial attempt to look better. A good smile contributes significantly to a healthy self-esteem that measurably improves your quality of life.
Bad Smiles By the Numbers
Research on the number of adults and children that lack confidence in their smile shows that this problem is much more prevalent than many realize.
- A new study of 2,000 Americans found that 7 in 10 were at least somewhat self conscious about their teeth.
- 30% of adults believe that they have a bad smile. However, only a fraction of these adults seek low-cost, simple treatments to remedy their orthodontic issues.
In 2015, a report published by BUPA found that 42% of respondents said their smile was the first thing they would change about themselves.
What is the Social Impact of a Bad Smile for Kids and Adults?
How does this lack of self-esteem affect behavior for those that feel they have an inferior smile? Though many people don’t realize how it’s impacted their behavior, a poor smile is likely changing the way that they act and their level of comfort in certain social situations.
Subconscious practices to mask this emotional discomfort can include:
- Covering your mouth with a hand when smiling. In fact, 28% of adults smile less and 62% of those ages 25-44 cover their mouth with their hand to avoid showing their teeth.
- Shying away from public situations. Research shows that children with orthodontic issues suffer from lower self-esteem. This means that children are less likely to take pictures with friends and more apt to avoid social situations where they garner attention.
Dr. O’s Own Journey to a Better Smile
Although the orthodontic problems that make people feel self conscious are often fixable, many people still avoid consulting an orthodontist to understand their available treatment options. While this lack of care is unfortunate, it can happen for many reasons, including a dentist that fails to make a referral when needed.
Dr. Oppenhuizen recently shared about his own childhood experience with a smile that was both cosmetically and functionally debilitating.
“You wouldn’t know it from me smiling today, but I’m missing two front teeth. [So] when I see kids come in with really goofy front teeth, I can completely relate to that…I think that really gives me empathy for a lot of the kids that I see that really have what I would call a socially debilitating smile.”
Understand Your Options
Our experienced and professional team can help you take the next steps toward a masterpiece smile that boosts your confidence and puts lifelong quality oral health within reach. Request a no-pressure consultation and get the personalized attention and plan that you deserve. Or, get started online today!