Emotional Dentistry

The Science of Uncovering Your True Smile

If you’ve ever had one of those moments when you’re looking at your smile in the mirror, and you happen to notice something that makes you a little self-conscious? Perhaps it’s a tooth that’s not perfectly aligned with the others, maybe your teeth aren’t the brilliant shade of white that you remember, or you may not have noticed that your gums are showing more prominently. In cases like these, patients often feel frustrated and start to wonder what can be done to help get their smiles back in style.

These feelings of frustration are very common. A recent study revealed that over 80% of those surveyed feel that their teeth look unattractive in pictures, and 28% said they go out of their way to hide their teeth on social media. Meanwhile, 42% said their smile was the first thing they wished they could change about themselves. and so the field of dentistry has evolved to include a discipline known as ‘emotional dentistry’.

Emotional Dentistry and Digitally Designed Smiles

The term ‘emotional dentistry’ might not be widely known among patients, but there’s a good chance that you’ve already experienced some elements of it as part of the care your dentist provides you. Simply put, it’s the practice of understanding the emotional connection between a person and their smile, then helping them achieve a smile that they can be proud of.

Now, we don’t have to tell you about the emotional impact of not loving your own smile. Aren’t totally satisfied with the appearance of your smile, you may have purposely, or perhaps even subconsciously, developed habits of hiding or downplaying your smile for pictures. You may also be hyper-aware of your teeth in social situations and get-togethers, a feeling that is only heightened during high-pressure events like first dates or job interviews.

Day after day, week after week, these small instances of stress and anxiety can build up into a tremendous emotional weight. You might end up feeling like you can never quite be the best possible version of yourself, or are apprehensive to let people see the real you. Fortunately, your dentist has the ability to help you lighten this emotional weight by working with you to treat your smile and restore its beauty using a wide variety of methods and techniques to correct all types of dental issues.

Digital Smile Design (DSD)

Digital Smile Design (DSD) is a crucial part of emotional dentistry. Using advanced dental imaging tools and 3D rendering software, dentists are able to create bespoke solutions that can help you get the smile that you’ve always wanted, and even simulate the outcome so you can see exactly what the potential results will look like.

Some of the most common dental problems and their corresponding solutions include:

Any combination of these treatments can help you get your smile looking the way that you have always wanted. However, it’s important to remember that there are no cure-all or one-size-fits-all solutions in the world of emotional dentistry. It’s likely that your dentist will create a long-term treatment plan that includes one or more of these types of procedures, spread out over time, in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

The Psychology of Smiling

Your smile is your body’s physiological response to happiness when chemicals in your brain are triggered in response to positive stimuli. At the same time, the act of smiling also releases the happiness neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins and serotonin) in your brain.

Smiles are also contagious. When you see a great smile, it makes you want to smile right back.  In fact, a 2002 Swedish study saw researchers showing test subjects pictures of various emotions. When they showed subjects a picture of a smile and asked them to frown, the participants had to work very hard to force a frown onto their faces.

How many times has someone else’s smile brought you out of a bad mood? Smiles are not just the easiest way to convey joy, they are also the most powerful weapon in helping other people feel better. But, what happens when we cover that up?

A fascinating New York Times article recently explored the impact of having to cover our smiles with masks during the pandemic. It has had a real impact and created a societal disconnect.

The simple act of sharing a laugh is now, quite literally, muffled. Without our smiles, we can’t quite convey our joy when bumping into an old co-worker. Without a warm and empathetic smile, how do we convey “It’s going to be OK” to someone that seems to be struggling?

Psychology Today also recently touched on this phenomenon. They explored how vital everyday smiles are to conveying our emotions, and knowing that our emotions are understood by the people we’re speaking to. It’s also a crucial part of letting other people know that we understand their feelings and we empathize.

The loss of these metacommunications is something that we probably don’t talk enough about. In a time when we all need a pick-me-up more than ever, we’re struggling to find those interactions. In many cases, the best we can do is try to smile with our eyes and hope that the other person can feel our sincerity.

So, what happens when you actively hide your smile? It means you’re never quite fully connecting with people, at least not as much as you could be. You’re not quite your unfiltered self and you’re always holding just a little bit back.

If you unlock your true smile (one that you’re comfortable sharing with ease), you are now making full connections. People can now see exactly how happy you feel, and you can do a better job of conveying that you understand them.

Simply put: You now feel free to share the real you and the full-you.

What Makes a Great Smile?

If you asked the average person to define the anatomy of a perfect smile, you would most likely hear things like:

  • Symmetry and straightness
  • Colour
  • Gum-to-tooth ratio
  • Jaw alignment

People may point to celebrities like Idris Elba or Brad Pitt for men, and Julia Roberts or Sofia Vergara for women. Of course, if you have dimples like Harry Styles or Kate Middleton, you’re that much more blessed.

However, let’s take a look at another iconic Hollywood smile, Tom Cruise. Tom is famous for his 10,000-watt smile and infectious laugh. But, does Tom have perfect teeth? No. He has had extensive work done on his teeth, but they are still not quite as straight as we associate with the typical Hollywood smile.

What makes his smile so iconic? In a word: Confidence. In every picture and red carpet interview, his big smiles and big laughs are completely unrestrained. Tom is always unapologetically Tom and it really translates into his smile.

Or we can look at Keira Knightley. This A-lister is known for an absolutely stunning smile, but her teeth are not perfectly symmetric. Once again, her smile is boosted by her confidence and her charm.

However, if you don’t like the look of your own smile, it’s a vicious cycle. You hide your smile because you’re not confident. But it’s hard to build confidence when you don’t feel like you can be the real you.

Can You Afford the Smile You’ve Always Wanted? Yes!

Too many people go through life covering their smiles because they don’t think they can afford the dental work that could change their lives. This should never be the case! At Georgian Dental®, we’re proud to offer procedure financing options, both in-house at our Barrie dentist office location and through third parties.

For example, we offer 0% financing on approved credit for procedures such as:

  • Whole mouth reconstructions
  • Gum recession
  • Braces
  • Implants
  • Many more

We also work with such dental financing companies as PayBright and Dental Card. These options help us work with traditionally underserved self-employed people, or people whose work benefits package will only cover some of their needs.

Never simply assume that you can’t afford the smile you’ve always dreamed of. You owe it to yourself to book an appointment to map out all of your options.

Are You Ready to See What’s Possible?

If you’re ready to see The New You, we’re ready to show it to you! We believe in taking a holistic approach to dentistry and helping our customers live overall healthier and happier lives. This ties directly into the practice of emotional dentistry, as the way we look and the way we feel are influenced by many factors, such as diet, sleep quality, stress management, physical fitness, and many other parts of our lives that are carefully monitored and considered using our holistic dentistry methods.

You can start your journey to finding a better smile (and more reasons to smile) right now by scheduling your appointment with our team of caring dental professionals. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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