Chances are high that you or someone in your family or immediate circle of friends is unhappy with the appearance of their smile. In fact, an international healthcare group recently conducted a study that shows that 28 percent of those questioned admit that they strive to avoid exposing their teeth in social media photos. Even more telling is that 81 percent of those queried feel their teeth are unattractive in any type of photograph.
While some of the study participants may have been unhappy with the overall level of whiteness their smile offered, many people were concerned with their appearance because of more serious dental issues, including one or more missing, broken, or decayed teeth. Unfortunately, missing, broken, or decayed teeth can do more than just damage a physical appearance - they can actually be very detrimental to physical health.
If you or someone you love is unhappy with the smile they present to the world but they have not yet sought any restorative dental treatment to address it, this information about the physical impact on overall health may provide the motivation needed to seek appropriate dental care.
Impact on mastication and nutrition
One obvious reason to explore restorative dentistry options for the repair or replacement of damaged or missing teeth is to help improve the mastication process and the nutrition the body receives from it.
When teeth are missing or chewing is painful due to tooth decay or other dental health issues, people often begin making food choices that are easy to chew and swallow, such as puddings, mashed potatoes, and soft fruits. Meats, fresh vegetables, and crisp fruits are often avoided because of concerns that they will be painful to consume.
Over time, the avoidance of some types of foods may lead to vitamin and mineral imbalances or caloric issues that can have a serious impact on the physical health of the entire body.
Relationship to painful conditions, including TMJ and ear issues
Another reason to pursue restorative dentistry to address missing or damaged teeth is their relation to painful conditions, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. TMJ may develop or worsen when teeth in the jawbone are very worn, broken, or missing and can no longer provide the support necessary to keep the affected joint properly aligned.
In addition to headaches and pain in the immediate area of the affected joint, TMJ sufferers may also experience excruciating ear pain and spasms to the muscles of the lower jaw.
Risks to heart health
Teeth that are in poor condition can also be a threat to the patient's coronary health. This occurs when the teeth or gums become inflamed and infected.
As the infection grows, it can enter the bloodstream and be carried to the heart. When the bacteria from the infected teeth arrive at the heart, they can trigger a serious heart health condition known as endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart's inner lining.
While the administration of antibiotics can help to reduce the risk of introducing infection to the heart, it is merely a temporary fix unless the teeth and gums are also restored to health.
Teeth and gum issues that continue to result in recurring bouts of infection can also result in delays in other health diagnostic and treatment procedures, including surgery. These delays are necessary due to the need to prescribe and administer a complete course of antibiotics to lessen the infection before the procedure can be performed. Even simple outpatient procedures, such as a colonoscopy, may require a precautionary course of antibiotics before they can be completed.
To learn more about restorative dentistry and the benefits it can have for your physical health, contact a dental care provider in your area that works in restorative dentistry.