Over 30 percent of people smile more than 20 times a day. However, less than 14 percent of individuals smile less than five times a day. On the other hand, children smile as much as 400 times a day.
The smile is also the first thing that people notice when meeting someone new.
Smiling individuals are deemed to be more likable, courteous, and competent. People ranked a smile as the second most attractive feature next to personality.
Smiling goes beyond language and is a universal sign of both happiness and a means of communication. In research in Papua New Guinea and of the Fore Tribe, American psychologist Paul Ekman found that smiles are cross-cultural. In other words, a smile has the same meaning in different societies.
TED speaker and writer Ron Gutman also recognized the “untapped powers” of smiling in improving lives. Gutman said the “superpower” of smiling helps people and those around them live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
Smiling activates the release of small molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other called neuropeptides. These influence both brain and body activities. Additionally, the activation of these molecules reduces stress.
Aside from neuropeptides, smiling releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. The release of these neurotransmitters relaxes the body and lowers blood pressure. Endorphins are also natural pain relievers while serotonin lifts mood and serves as an anti-depressant.
However, not all people flash their smiles. In its 2015 Oral Health and Well-being report, the American Dental Association (ADA) stated that one in four adults refuses to smile because of the condition of their teeth.
Having crooked teeth is one of the dental concerns that hinder people from showing off their pearly whites.
An individual can have crooked teeth for several reasons, which include:
- A mouth too small for the teeth, leading to crowding and causing a shift in the teeth
- A malformed upper and lower jaw that can result in an overbite (excessive protrusion of the upper jaw) or an underbite (lower jaw and teeth extends beyond the upper teeth due to the excessive protrusion of the lower jaw)
- Inherited trait
- Early loss of baby or adult teeth
- Improper fit of dental restorations
- Gum disease
- Undue pressure to on the teeth and gums
- Injury to the jaw leading to misalignment
- Mouth or jaw tumors
- Tongue thrusting
- Pacifier use beyond three-years-old
- Prolonged use of a baby bottle
Crooked teeth can cause self-consciousness and affect an individual’s self-esteem. Aside from its aesthetic consequence, the dental problem can interfere with chewing.
It can also make basic oral care like brushing and flossing difficult. Additionlly, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis. Crooked teeth stress the teeth, jaws, and muscles that can lead to the breaking of a tooth.
Although noticeable, determining the need for treatment still lies on a dental professional. A dentist can look for signs such as abnormal alignment of the teeth, abnormal appearance of the face, discomfort or difficulty in chewing or biting, and speech problems.
A referral to an orthodontist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusion can also be made.
The orthodontist will take X-rays of the patient’s teeth and photographs of his or her face to determine what treatment may be necessary. Impressions will also be made by biting down on a soft material, creating an exact copy of the patient’s teeth.
Orthodontic treatment can involve a fixed or removable appliance. Fixed orthodontic devices include dental braces, fixed space maintainers, and special fixed appliances. Removable devices include removable retainers, aligners, jaw repositioning appliances, palatal expander, lip and cheek bumpers, headgear, and removable space maintainers.
A tooth or teeth may require extraction to provide adequate room for teeth movement during the orthodontic treatment.
Beside the latter, practicing good oral hygiene all the time remains a necessity to keep the mouth healthy for a more beautiful and healthier smile.