Can personality be a problem? – Howard Thomas

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  Posted by: Dental Design      2nd June 2018

From the moment of birth right up until death, a person is defined by their individual characteristics and qualities. Amongst other things, these personality traits can predispose opinions, behaviours and frame of mind, and affect an individual’s overall approach and attitude to life.

Naturally, it is quite hard to measure personality, and as such there are a number of different methods that can be used to try and make sense of personality traits. In the days of the ancient Greeks, Hippocrates theorised that individuals fall into one of four categories: melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic and sanguine. Those that were melancholic or choleric were considered to be neurotic, while phlegmatic and sanguine individuals were thought of as emotionally stable.

Today, the grouping of certain traits is based on more complex considerations. Some psychologists focus on characteristics that are regarded as dominant, of which the big five are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Building on that concept is the use of personality testing such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which involves assessing extraversion and introversion along with psychological functions such as sensing and intuition, and thinking and feeling. It is believed by many that each person uses one of these functions more dominantly, and based on these qualities fall into one of 16 personality categories. Other tests such as the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire focus on extraversion and introversion, neuroticism and stability, and psychoticism and socialisation.

What category a person falls into can influence romantic relationships, friendships, career paths and choices, workplace habits and more. Research has even shown that personality can affect health, as results from a study indicated that extraverts appear to have better immune systems that are more effective at fighting infection.[i]It is also thought that personality might be associated with heart disease in terms of vascular inflammation, endothelial dysfunction and disturbed autonomic tone, and behavioural factors such as smoking and failure to follow medical advice.[ii]More importantly for dental professionals, an individual’s personality type can affect oral health.

Indeed, according to research, certain personality types are more likely to exhibit signs of poor oral health. Using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire along with clinical parameters, one study found a clinical correction between personality traits and certain behaviours pertaining to oral hygiene and health.[iii]Amongst the discoveries was that gingival inflammation correlated significantly with patients from the E (extroversion) category, and P (psychoticism) and E subjects had lower brushing frequency. Alongside this, prevalence of tobacco use was higher in P, E and N (neuroticism) subjects compared to the control group. As there is evidence to suggest that there is a positive association between periodontal disease and smoking,[iv]it is clear that people can be at greater risk of poor oral health and dental disease depending on their characteristics.

Another study suggests that personality may impact the way in which people understand their symptoms and respond to the issue at hand.[v]In other words, individuals with depressive tendencies or those more susceptible to stress might construe their symptoms to be worse than what they actually are. This in turn could potentially have an impact on oral health motivation, dental attendance and confidence.

In light of this evidence, there might be opportunity to use psychological intervention and motivation based on patients’ personality to change poor oral health behaviours, reinforce key information and improve oral hygiene and health. That’s not to say, of course, that dental professionals are expected to become experts on psychological behaviour or start questioning patients about personality traits to assess their ‘type’. Yet, by consciously considering personality and devising a few simple strategies it might be possible to reach out to patients on a more personal level that inspires them to take greater control of their oral status.

To help with this, Curaprox has created a brand new range of whitening toothpastes called Be You. Purposefully designed to inject an element of fun, playfulness and personal expression into the daily oral hygiene routine, Be You toothpastes appeal on an individual level like no other adjunct. From ‘day dreamer’ to ‘explorer’ there’s a toothpaste for every personality type, and they come in six unique flavours and colours to add to the allure.

Personality is just one of many factors that can affect dental health, but by encouraging patients to express themselves and take a personal approach to oral hygiene, there might be scope to change oral attitudes, behaviour and status. Provide your patients with inspiring adjuncts today that will help them feel empowered to make positive changes tomorrow.



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[i]University of Nottingham: Study sheds new light on relationship between personality and health. Published 11 December 2014. Accessed online March 2018 at

[ii]Steptoe A, Molloy GJ. Personality and heart disease. Heart. 2007; 93 (7): 783-784. Accessed online March 2018 at

[iii]Shanker RK, Mohamed M, Hegde S, Kumar MSA. Influence of personality traits on gingival health. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2013; 17 (1):58-62. Accessed online March 2018 at

[iv]Gautam DK, Jindal V, Gupta SC, Tuli Am Kotwal B, Thakur R. Effect of cigarette smoking on the periodontal health status: A comparative, cross sectional study. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2011; 15 (4):383-387. Accessed online March 2018 at

[v]Caspi A, Roberts B, Shiner R. Personality development: stability and change. Annu Rev Psychol 2005; 56: 453–484. Accessed online March 2018 at


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