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Do regular dental visits make you happier?

It's a fact that going to the dentist for preventioin and maintenance is cheaper, healthier, and overall a less risky strategy for oral health.

Is there a more fundamental reason than this though?

Lets look at some other reasons that a visit to the dentist should be more than just about avoiding pain. ''Maslows heirarchy of needs'' is a theory that describes how humans act, and can improve themselves. It's not written in stone and is only a theory, but we can use it as an example of how attending more regularly can improve more than just your oral health.

It was published in 1943 in 'Psychological review' and looked at highly succesful people such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. The image shows the pyramid describing the theory. The bottom layers of the pyramid must be achieved before you can move up to the next. At the top of the pyramid is 'self-actualisation' or what could be termed human fulfillment and happiness.

So as a rule, when the lower layers such as 'hunger' and 'need for intimacy and respect' are fulfilled, humans will then be more creative, spontaneous, and able to solve problems. We will be happier and more fulfilled individuals.

While dentistry can be looked at a basic level as providing 'security of body' and health, it can also have effects on the higher layers such as self-esteem and confidence.

Imagine a person wearing loose, ill fitting dentures: They could eat a limited diet, but probably enough to satisfy the most basic requirements of sustenance. Imagine they felt embarassed to go out for a nicer meal, or avoided certain foods because of their ill-fitting dentistry.

If the person attended regularly, and had a newer, well fitted device made, it could allow them the confidence to go out and eat with family and friends, and allow the person to 'climb the pyramid'. By maintaining, and actively preventing problems, they are not focused on the basics any more and are moving to the higher echelons of the pyramid.

Finally, it's a two way street sometimes! If a dentist is using their creativity, and problem solving to help people, their own job satisfaction also improves. At our own practice we aim to listen to the persons story and help them to the fullest, they are never just a set of teeth. This approach gets the most out of the patient-dentist relationship for both parties.

Dr John Bresnan

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