|Callum smiling! Picture by Rab Fulton|
It took over a year before my mouth was put back into some semblance of working order. My gums were the perfect fire storm of dental horror - no sooner was one tooth put back together than another collapsed, or fell out, or a root canal erupted. But finally the crisis was brought under control. The procedures left a sizeable fiscal trench in my bank account, but I the improvement in my wellbeing is priceless.
One of the problems with dental problems is that is has direct impacts on other parts of your life. Painful teeth mean it is harder to enjoy eating, and eating is not only one of life’s great pleasures, but meals are a very relaxed way of catching up with friends and family. To have eating associated with pain was very stressful for me. It affected my mood and my sleeping patterns.
Another problem associated with bad teeth, and one I can testify to, is that it affects how you smile and laugh. All that pain in my gums and jaw muscles meant that smiling became a slow and careful procedure, sudden movements could very easily lead to discomfort and pain. The lack of spontinenity affected how I interacted with my family and friends and how they interacted with me.
Smiling is one of evolutions great gifts. In his article The untapped power of smiling, Eric Savitz, looked at recent research showing that facial expressions are important for our emotions. Smiling ignites those parts of our brain that make us feel positive and happy. Even when we fake a smile those triggers are flipped on. But smiling not only lifts your mood, it makes people around you feel more positive and amiable. Smiling people are also perceived as being more competent. In Smile! It could make you happier , Melinda Werner looks at the research showing that the reverse is also true: people who frown a lot are less positive and less capable of dealing with pain and discomfort.
And here’s a final thought to mull over whilst brushing your teeth: good dental health not only makes you feel better and look better but it makes you work and play better too. I spent a lot of money sorting out the dental mistakes I made as a child and young adult, but the truth was I was losing money anyway. Discomfort and pain were impacting on my ability to write, take on commissions and think creatively. With the pain gone I was able to think, write and engage with new clients. Keep brushing! Stay smiling!
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For more on how to look good, feel good and be in charge of your life as a student at NUI Galway check out Student's Services Health Promotion Students at NUI Galway can also sign up for the free online health and wellness magazine Student Health 101
For more about Rab’s work as a blogger, author, tutor and performer see rabfultonstories