Better teeth, better quality of life?

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  Posted by: Dental Design      10th August 2019

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. Humans pay a great deal of attention to faces, there is a wealth of evidence establishing that even babies exhibit a marked preference for faces (and face-like configurations) over other stimuli.[i],[ii]Adults recognise faces with greater speed and accuracy than any other visual stimuli.[iii]

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 behaviours, 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.[iv]

Social interactions

Edentulism can have a profound impact on an individual’s quality of life (QOL), particularly in the absence of treatment. A German study reported that participants with fewer than 9 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.[v]

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.[vi],[vii]

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.[viii],[ix],[x]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.[xi]

We might note that receiving some dental treatments can affect QOL differently at different phases of the procedure. A classic example of this would be fixed orthodontic treatment, where it is not unusual for the patient’s QOL and self-esteem to dip, particularly during the first three to six months, but then rise above pre-treatment levels once they reach the retention phase.[xii]


While we may wish otherwise, applying to jobs and advancing one’s career are not totally meritocratic activities. 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.[xiii],[xiv]We might also note that this unfortunate reality is likely to remain outside of legal redress for the foreseeable future.

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 – so a person who is generally recognised as aesthetically pleasing, but who does not share this impression of themselves may unfortunately also struggle more with employability and advancement.[xv]

Lower socio-economic status has been associated with lower standards of oral health across a wide-body of research.[xvi],[xvii]The reasons for this are complex, but given the effect that aesthetics can have on employability alone, the problem is likely something of a vicious circle. There may be a silver lining to this – by helping a patient with their oral health it could positively influence seemingly unrelated aspects of their lives.

Brushing alone only cleans exposed tooth surfaces, which can allow plaque to form in interdental surfaces. However, the Waterpik®Water Flosser can help patients clean those difficult to reach areas easily and effectively, helping to ensure their oral hygiene is maintained. The Waterpik®Whitening Water Flosser also has infuser technology that mixes a gentle stain remover with water to restore natural tooth whiteness and as with all Waterpik®models, it provides significant oral health benefits to patients with orthodontic appliances,[xviii]dental implants,[xix]crowns, bridges and veneers.

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

For more information on Waterpik®please visit Waterpik®products are available from Amazon, Asda, Costco UK,
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[i]Farroni T., Johnson M., Zulian M., Faraguna D., Csibra G. Newborns’ preference for face-relevant stimuli: effects of contrast polarity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2005; 102(47): 17245-17250. 18, 2019.

[ii]Frank M., Vul E., Johnson S. Development of infants’ attention to faces during the first year. Cognition. 2009; 110(2): 160-170. 18, 2019.

[iii]Haan M., de Pascalis O., Johnson M. Specialization of neural mechanisms underlying face recognition in human infants. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.2002; 14(2): 199-209. 18, 2019.

[iv]Little A., Jones B., DeBruine L. Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2011; 366(1571): 1638-1659. 18, 2019.

[v]Mack F., Schwahn C., Feine J., Mundt T., Bernhardt O., John U., Kocher T., Biffar R. The impact of tooth loss on general health related to quality of life among the elderly Pomeranians – results from the study of health in Pomerania (SHIP-0). International Journal of Prosthodontics. 2005; 18(5): 414-419. 18, 2019

[vi]Ha T., Overbeek G., Engles R. Effects of attractiveness and social status on dating desire in heterosexual adolescents: an experimental study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2010; 39(5): 1063-1071. 18, 2019.

[vii]Karraker A., Sicinski K., Moynihan D. Your face is your fortune: does adolescent attractiveness predict intimate relationships later in life? The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. 2017; 72(1): 187-199. 18, 2019.

[viii]Badran S. The effect of maolcculsion and self-percieved aesthetics on the self-esteem of a sample of Jordanian adolescents. European Journal of Orthodontics.  2010; 32(6): 638-644. 18, 2019.

[ix]Tin-Oo M., Saddki N., Hassan N. Factors influencing patient satisfaction with dental appearance and treatments they desire to improve aesthetics. BMC Oral Health. 2011; 11:6. 18, 2019.

[x]Crocker J., Luhtanen R. Level of self-esteem and contingencies of self-worth: unique effects on academic, social, and financial problems in college students.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2003; 29(6): 701-712. 18, 2019.

[xi]Kaur P., Singh S., Mathur A., Makkar D., Aggarwal V., Batra M., Sharma A., Goyal N. Impact of dental disorders and its influence on self esteem levels among adolescents. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.2017; 11(4): ZC05-ZC08. 18, 2019.

[xii]Johal A., Alyaqoobi I., Patel R., Cox S. The impact of orthodontic treatment on quality of life and self-esteem in adult patients. European Journal of Orthodontics. 2015; 37(3): 233-237. 18, 2019.

[xiii]Johnson S., Podratz K., Dipboye R., Gibbons E. Physical attractiveness biases in ratings of employment suitability: tracking down the “beauty is beastly” effect. The Journal of Social Psychology. 2010; 150(3): 301-318. 18, 2019.

[xiv]Chiu R., Babcock R. The relative importance of facial attractiveness and gender in Hong Kong selection decisions.  International Journal of Human Resource Management.  2002; 13(1): 141-155. 18, 2019.

[xv]Tseng, M. S. Self-perception and employability: A vocational rehabilitation problem. Journal of Counseling Psychology. 1972; 19(4): 314-317. 18, 2019.

[xvi]TimişT., DănilăI. Socioeconomic status and oral health. The Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2005; 13(1): 116-121. 18, 2019.

[xvii]Paula J., Leite I., Almeida A., Ambrosano G., Pereira A., Mialhe F. The influence of oral health conditions, socioeconomic status and home environment factors on schoolchildren’s self-perception of quality of life. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.2012; 10(6). 18, 2019.

[xviii]Sharma N.C, et al. The Waterpik® Water Flosser is 3X as Effective as String Floss for Orthodontic Patients. Am J Ortho Dentofacial Orthop 2008; 133(4):565-571. [Accessed January 22, 2019]

[xix]Magnuson B, et al. Comparison of the effect of two interdental cleaning devices around implants on the reduction of bleeding: A 30-day randomized clinical trial. Compend of Contin Ed in Dent 2013; 34(Special Issue 8):2-7.  [Accessed January 22, 2019]


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