In the first study of its kind, researcher Grace Branjerdporn looked into the link between being in love and oral health. The results definitively point out that “the dynamics of our romantic relationships affect our oral health.” Turns out the health benefits of being in love extend to our teeth, too!
Previous studies found that romantic closeness with another person can positively impact health. On the flip side, stressful relationships can lead to poorer health. The impact our love life has on our health shouldn’t be ignored, including how love influences our dental and overall health.
The Dental Health Benefits of Being in Love
The study led by Branjerdporn explains how a person in love feels genuine trust in their partner. This generates a higher feeling of self-worth. Like a positive domino effect, that person develops “better dental visiting habits [and] more confidence related to […] teeth and appearance.”
Since these happy people are taking better care of their teeth as a result of increased self-confidence, the positive effects keep rolling in! Individuals in the study who were in healthy relationships reported a higher level of comfort with, and care for, their oral health and smile than those not in love.
When you feel better about yourself, you’re more inclined to take care of your well-being. There’s a score that dental professionals use when discussing this. It’s called the oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) score. Researchers use OHRQoL to evaluate how happy patients are with their smile in regard to their day-to-day life.
An increase in OHRQoL means that a person feels that their smile health has helped them “achieve overall functioning that allows them to pursue valued life goals.” In short, an increase in OHRQoL means an increase in a person’s confidence due to their smile!
Inversely, a drop in someone’s oral health-related quality of life means that they don’t feel their smile is doing them any favors. Looking at someone’s OHRQoL can also help dentists identify patients who are at risk for poor dental care practices. Patients in the study who “tended to avoid emotional intimacy, or worried their partner would not be available to them in times of need” were less likely to take care of their teeth and “were more likely to have negative oral health outcomes,” Branjerdporn said.
The Negative Dental Health Impacts of Stressful Relationships
The health benefits of being in love have been studied many times. So, it’s no surprise unhealthy relationships can have a negative impact on your oral and overall wellness. Emotions really do play a significant role in how healthy we are.
The effects a stressful relationship has on a person’s health are essentially the opposite of those from a trusting relationship. People with lower confidence in their relationships (especially romantic relationships) develop lower confidence in themselves.
The participants mentioned in the above study emotionally distanced themselves from their partner and were much less likely to schedule their bi-annual preventative care appointments with a dentist. Reasons like self-reliance, general distrust, and a lack of confidence were specifically cited by the researchers.
Set the Stage to Benefit from Being in Love
Because partners and cohabitants can influence our oral health habits, it’s important to establish a solid brushing and flossing routine when we begin living with someone. Use your consistent togetherness to help one another stay on top of brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and making those necessary dental appointments.
As many as 70% of women and 65% of men say they won’t kiss someone they believe has poor dental health. Plus, poor hygiene topped the list of reasons men and women say they’ll break up with someone. Keep that love going strong by maintaining good oral health habits and encouraging your loved one to do the same.
“Good oral health and a great smile can make a difference in relationships and in people’s overall lives,” said Jennifer Elliott, vice president of marketing for Delta Dental Plans Association. “That’s why Delta Dental encourages regular oral health care for better health and overall well-being.”
For tips on how to keep your smile healthy for a lifetime, read this blog.