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Your Best Face Forward: How Oral Health Affects Facial Appearance

Woman holding up image of a healthy smile.

 

Your face is totally unique, and it is one of the things that makes you, well, you! And a lot of factors can influence the way you appear to the world, including your habits and your health. Taking care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep can all have an impact on the way you look. But did you know that your oral health can also have a significant effect?  

Why Oral Health Affects Your Face

While your facial structure is primarily determined by your genetics, some of the things that help it to keep its structure, symmetry, and shape are your teeth and jaw bones. As a result, certain problems with your oral health, which affect the teeth and jaw, can actually have an impact on the way you look.

Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can have a surprisingly profound impact on your appearance. While it is obvious that you wouldn’t want to see your missing teeth when you smile, there are less obvious ways in which missing teeth can have an impact.

In fact, even your rear molars can affect the way you look. How is this possible? Your teeth provide shape to your face. The walls of your cheeks are soft and require the rigidity of teeth behind them to look their best. Missing teeth can cause sagging jowls, sunken cheeks, and thinning lips.

In addition, over time, missing teeth can affect neighboring teeth, exacerbating the effects. Missing teeth on one side of the mouth and not the other means a potentially asymmetrical appearance. Missing teeth can also lead to bite problems. A change in your bite, or the way your teeth are oriented with respect to one another, can alter your mouth shape and negatively impact the way you look.

Bone Loss

Bone loss is a potential long-term outcome of certain oral health problems. For example, tooth loss can lead to a reduction in stimulation to the jaw bones. Eventually, neighboring teeth can become crooked or even be lost, and the jaw bone can atrophy, causing bone loss. Similarly, an abscess in the upper arch can potentially result in bone loss in the sinus region.

The deterioration of the jaw and other facial bones can affect the look of your face. Like with missing teeth, this can mean a sunken appearance, sagging skin, facial asymmetry, or a change to the shape of facial features like your lips.

Skin Health

Another surprising effect your oral health can have on your facial appearance is that it can impact your complexion. Unchecked oral bacteria can multiply rapidly. Eventually, it is possible for these bacteria to enter the bloodstream and spread. One possible result is acne.

In addition to potentially spreading bacteria that directly cause acne, poor oral health, including gum disease and oral infections, can contribute to systemic inflammation. Inflammation can worsen acne and other skin problems, such as eczema and psoriasis. Skeptical? Some studies have shown that when active oral infections are cleared, skin conditions such as those that we mentioned tend to improve significantly.

Look Better with Better Oral Health

If you do have tooth loss, there are options available, such as dental implants, that can restore your smile and preserve your jaw health.

However, the best option for protecting your good looks is prevention. Make sure you practice perfect oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day for two full minutes each time. Floss daily as well. Make a dentist appointment twice per year to get a professional cleaning and checkup. The earlier you catch dental issues, the better chance you have of fixing them without tooth or bone loss.

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