Our smile is an important part of the first impression we make on others. A healthy smile says a lot of good things about us, but an unhealthy or unattractive smile can cause people to jump to conclusions about us. These conclusions are typically unjustified, but that doesn’t stop people from making them, though they often keep them to themselves.
Here are four messages people get from your missing tooth.
“I Am Unhealthy”
An attractive and full smile is a sign of general health. People automatically jump from the condition of your teeth to the condition of your overall health. And, to a certain extent, this is justified. As we have come to understand more about the connections between oral health and general health, we come to see the logic inherent in this instinctual link: gum disease (the most common cause of tooth loss among adults) is associated with heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other systemic health problems.
“I Am Old”
People are born with a full set of teeth, but tooth loss increases with age. For people aged 20-34 the average number of teeth is 27. For people age 35-49, that number drops to 25. For people age 50-64, the average is 23. This is magnified even more in people’s subjective map of age. When people see a lost tooth, they will add decades to their mental impression of your age.
“I Don’t Take Care of Myself”
In the past, it was common for people to lose teeth. There was no way to prevent it. Although there are still circumstances in which there’s no way to avoid losing a tooth, most people’s experience leads them to believe that a lost tooth is a sign of poor oral hygiene. Like the other conclusions, this is unfair, but that doesn’t stop people from jumping to it.
“I Am Poor”
Another thing people will assume if you have a visible gap in your teeth is that you just don’t have the money to prevent tooth loss or would have fixed the missing tooth. To a certain extent, risk of tooth loss is higher among lower income brackets, but this still isn’t a fair conclusion.
Your Smile Speaks Before You Do
And although all these conclusions are unfair, the statements a missing tooth makes about you are probably the first thing a person will “hear” when you meet them. In addition, people are much more likely to remember your smile than what you say, what you wear, or what you smell like.
In other words, the things your smile says about you are likely to be the only things people take away from meeting you for the first time. If you want to make sure people listen to what you say and not what your missing tooth says, a dental implant can fill the gap and give you a healthy and attractive smile.