Attachment, Self-Confidence, and Dental Health
To determine the potential link between oral health and relationship status, researchers took a “convenience sample” (basically, people who could be easily found to participate) of 265 adults. They surveyed all these adults about their relationship experiences as well as their oral health status, attitudes, and behaviors. Oral health was assessed with three different methods: the Oral Health Quality of Life survey, the Dental Neglect Scale, and a single question rating their overall oral health.
Statistical analysis revealed people who tended to avoid emotional intimacy or who were insecure about the commitment or availability of their partner were more likely to have oral health problems and less likely to be taking good care of their oral health. On the other hand, those who were in happy relationships were more likely to visit the dentist more often, have more confidence in their teeth, and feel better about their oral health.
Which Is the Cause and Which Is the Effect?
For the purposes of their analysis, researchers just noted a correlation. In press releases and various public statements, researchers tend to attribute the cause and effect relationship as being the relationship factors influence the oral health factors. They are partly working off theories that people who tend to be emotionally distant are also reluctant to seek help for problems, including oral health problems. And research suggests that people with insecure attachments are also poor at seeking other types of healthcare. Certainly, a person in a relationship has someone to tell them about problems with their smile.
However, it’s just as likely–if not more likely–that the opposite is true. Instead of relationship insecurity causing you to neglect oral health, perhaps it’s the neglect of oral health, uncertainty about oral health or appearance that leads to relationship security. It’s easy to imaging worrying about losing a lover or spouse if you lack confidence in aspects of your appearance, such as your smile.
We know, for example, how important a smile is to getting in a relationship with another person–it seems likely that it might be just as important for maintaining that relationship. And that it would potentially be obvious that poor oral health was a threat to the relationship.
Healthy Smiles and Healthy Relationships
Whichever is the cause and which the effect, it’s clear that healthy smiles and healthy relationships are closely related. If you’re looking for a San Jose dentist to help you with one of those, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.