Behind this gesture that shows happiness and friendliness there are personal issues such as self-esteem and self-worth. Self-care is fundamental.
Melissa Vásquez Posada, dentist
Ariosto Ibañez Rivera, clinical psychologist, specialist in Educational Inclusion
There are many famous phrases about smiles that show its potential to pave the way for good relationships. “A smile costs less than electricity and gives more light,” says a Scottish proverb; or “a child recognizes his mother because of her smile,” wrote Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. It is the first thing people see, which is why taking care of it is important, including discipline and habits for keeping it radiant.
Melissa Vásquez Posada, dentist from the University of Antioquia, states that a good number of consultations she receives are related to esthetics because people always want to look better. So, the first thing she recommends is maintaining good oral hygiene, which translates to making what you are taught as a child into a habit: brush your teeth after each meal and use dental floss and mouthwash.
“In a dental consultation, we usually see three types of problems related to appearance: the color of the teeth – this is the most frequent – the position of the front teeth, and the size,” explains the dentist.
And oral hygiene has a direct impact on this first reason for consultation. Dark stains with brown tones and stains that have yellow tints are generally caused as a result of not following oral hygiene habits adequately and early enough. “Good hygiene greatly contributes to the absence of stains on the teeth. And, this includes visits to the dentist and the dental hygienist, who can do a deeper cleaning of the places we cannot reach, since there are deposits that harden and do not come out with a toothbrush or dental floss,” states the dentist.
Smile and self-esteem
Our smile is also linked to self-love, to the concept each individual has of themselves, and in fact, it conveys other, more emotional issues such as feelings or moods. In view of this, Ariosto Ibañez Rivera, clinical psychologist and specialist in Educational Inclusion, states that “thinking your own smile is not pretty can affect other notions you have about yourself, for example socially, which determines our ability to relate to others. It can also have an emotional impact, which defines our perception of our own strengths and ability to adapt.”
The specialist highlights that there are several essential factors in caring for our teeth, including the creation of habits, lifestyles, learning, experiences, and physical resources. “However, a perception of dissatisfaction with our teeth can negatively influence our physical self-concept and, therefore, significantly affect our self-esteem and possibly their care,” he adds.
The habit of hygiene
The key is making brushing your teeth a habit, which is not complex or strenuous. The dentist recommends a good brushing technique, which should be complete, “because many patients forget to include their tongue in their oral hygiene routine,” she adds. It is helpful to use dental floss and mouthwash every day. “Also, visiting the dentist two times per year. Professional cleaning is important, because even if we brush properly, there are parts of the oral cavity that we cannot reach with a toothbrush or dental floss,” she states.•
Taking care of our teeth and smile
The Nemour Foundation’s website, KidsHealth, in the USA, shares some tips for keeping our teeth healthy and well-cared for:
Have a nutritious diet, limiting juices, sugars, and sticky foods.
Brush your teeth three times per day for two minutes, and use dental floss at least once per day.
Use a mouth guard when practicing sports if there is a risk of being hit in the mouth.
Avoid having objects in your mouth when you are walking or running.
Stay away from cigarette smoke, and of course, do not smoke.
Go to all of your dentist appointments.