A person’s teeth are a defining physical feature. When we smile, we display our teeth, so many people spend a lot of time and money on improving them. Why are teeth so important? Here are ten reasons:
Teeth let you eat a variety of healthy foods
Without teeth, our diets would be very limited. Most of the healthiest foods – like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds – need to be chewed thoroughly. Even the loss of one tooth can make chewing certain foods more difficult. The loss of multiple teeth – or all your teeth – means you need to depend on soft and more processed foods. This results in poor nutrition, so dentists always advise tooth replacements like implants, bridges, or dentures.
Your teeth affect your face’s shape
Your teeth separate the two jawbones and lengthen your face. The act of chewing strengthens the jawbone, so your facial shape is preserved. When you lose teeth, the stimulation of chewing is reduced, leading to shrinkage in the jawbones. This gives your face an older, more sunken look.
Teeth affect your speech
Crooked teeth or tooth loss doesn’t only affect our appearance or what we can eat. It affects speech, as well. When a child’s teeth are misaligned, there is a higher chance of them developing speech problems. Crooked or misshapen teeth affect their tongue placement and therefore, how they talk. If they lose a baby tooth too early, it can also impact their language development. This is one of the reasons why dentists encourage parents to teach young children proper oral hygiene.
Your teeth affect how attractive people think you are
Scientists have explored how our smiles and teeth affect our attractiveness. One study digitally changed the color of a model’s teeth and showed the results to a group. As the teeth got more yellow, the group perceived the model as less attractive. When the model had natural, white teeth, however, the group found them more attractive. Based on studies like this, scientists believe that our smiles serve an “ornamental” purpose. Peacocks have their colorful feathers and we have white teeth. Given this information, it’s no surprise that products and services that whiten and brighten a person’s teeth are so popular.
Your teeth’s appearance affects your confidence
Everyone struggles with body image to some degree. Your teeth’s appearance can be a big source of anxiety. According to research by the American Dental Association, 30% of kids don’t smile because they’re self-conscious. That percentage is even higher for adults. Believing you have an unattractive smile can have a significant effect on your self-esteem. Your confidence at work and in relationships can suffer. When people can get their teeth fixed or access cosmetic improvements, their confidence increases.
Bad bacteria on teeth leads to gum disease
Our mouths are home to all kinds of bacteria. Some of it is harmful to our health. When bacteria builds up on teeth, it makes our gums more vulnerable to infection. The immune system kicks in, causing inflammation. This is gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. If the person doesn’t improve their oral hygiene routine, gingivitis leads to periodontitis, also known as gum disease. The tissue becomes infected.
Gum disease is linked to diabetes and heart health
The severe gum inflammation that occurs as a result of periodontitis affects the rest of the body. For those with diabetes, gum disease makes it harder to absorb insulin medication. This leads to spikes in blood sugar, which in turn leads to even worse mouth infections. There’s also a link between heart disease and oral health, though experts aren’t quite sure of the specifics. Studies do show that people with gum disease have higher rates of heart problems.
Dental health affects pregnancy
Pregnancy causes a lot of hormonal changes, which increases the risk of gingivitis. When this isn’t treated, it doesn’t only affect the pregnant person, but the baby as well. Research shows a link between gingivitis and premature births. This is because harmful bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and into the uterus.
There’s a link between teeth and brain health
While scientists are still researching the exact nature of the link, there is an association between brain health and oral health. One area of study is gum disease’s connection to Alzheimer’s. It could be that certain bacteria from the mouth travel to the brain through the bloodstream. There is also a link between mental health issues like depression and poor oral health. This could likely be because people with mental health problems find it challenging to keep up dental health routines.
Teeth are a masterpiece of evolution
Teeth didn’t just appear one day in their current form. They are the end result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Based on fossil and genetic evidence, experts believe teeth evolved from specialized fish scales. Over time, teeth got stronger until – when healthy – they could handle a lifetime of chewing without shattering.