What do you love about yourself? Of course, personality traits should make up the bulk of those bullet points, but I’m actually referring to physical attributes this time around. For me, it’s all about the hair: When my strands are straight and frame my face just right in the morning, I already know it’s going to be a good day. It’s not shallow to admit when you look your best, you feel your best — it’s human, and apparently, scientifically proven, too. According to the results of a new survey, the best way to boost your confidence is hidden in something most of us could improve on. It all comes down to a very specific kind of self-care tactic — one that, ironically, most people find incredibly tedious: oral hygiene.
It’s important that I point out these are just the results of one survey. There are plenty of ways to boost your confidence — aesthetically, or otherwise. Still, I think we could all benefit from brushing our teeth a little better or flossing more often, and this isn’t just me being a stereotypical health enthusiast, either; there are real statistics backing me up on this one, guys. Think about it: Do you brush twice a day? If your nose is scrunching in disgust, appalled that I would even ask such a thing, good for you, but according to a recent survey issued by oral care start-up company Hello Products, one-third of the 2,000 participants said they only brush once daily. What’s worse, the average person can go two days without brushing at all. Are you shook? Because I sure was.
What about flossing? And no, I’m not referring to The Backpack Kid’s viral dance move. I’m talking string to teeth, people. I can admit, flossing isn’t the first (or second, or third…) thing I think of when I go through my morning and night routines, but that doesn’t mean I, or you, should be skipping this step. According to a study led by Duong Nguyen, a medical epidemiologist and member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, only one-third of Americans floss every day, and a cringeworthy 32 percent never floss. Trust me, guys, when dental experts are begging people to floss at least once a day, any time of day — because the bare minimum is better than nothing — that's a clear sign society has an oral hygiene problem.
Interestingly enough, though, despite these fun (yet somewhat disturbing) facts, the results of a new, national survey show that having good oral hygiene can be a huge confidence-booster.
The research, which was done by the not-for-profit national association Delta Dental, found that, out of roughly 1,000 surveyed adults in the U.S., 53 percent believe their smile plays a key role in their overall success. Ironic, isn’t it? Especially when you consider the fact that, according to the statistics I mentioned earlier, a lot of people are majorly slacking when it comes to their oral health care. Still, 70 percent of people in the Delta Dental survey agreed that “a smile can make or break a first impression," according to the study's press release. You really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but clearly, many people are judging other people, and even themselves, by their smiles.
Of course, you shouldn’t have to feel like you need a 1,000-watt smile to land your dream job or succeed in life; there’s so much more to self-confidence than a grin of pearly whites. Having said that, though, there are plenty of other reasons to brush and floss as much as your dentist tells you to, many of which have nothing to do with your appearance, and everything to do with your overall well-being.
As far as your mouth goes, when you neglect to brush your teeth, you’re practically inviting plaque and other bacteria to take off their coats and stay a while. The less you brush, the more remnants of food and beverages will stick to the roof of your mouth and in between your teeth. You might get lucky and only have to deal with a case of rank breath in the morning, but not brushing can lead to some serious issues like gum disease and tooth decay, according to Prevention. And if you think skipping a brushing sesh after dinner is a prime example of poor oral hygiene, those of you who consider flossing to be optional are committing what may be an even more serious, oral-hygiene faux-pas.
If you're not brushing your teeth or flossing as much as you should, your entire body pays the price.
I’ll be the the first one to admit my oral hygiene is far from perfect. I, too, could brush a little better, and floss a little — OK, a lot — more often than I already do, especially given the fact that everything going on inside your mouth plays a huge part in how your entire body feels every day, even more so than I bet you realize. In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Dr. Susan Maples, DDS, an oral and systemic health expert and author of the book Blabber Mouth, says that, when you don’t brush or floss regularly, your chances of developing gum disease go way up — and when gum disease takes over your mouth, it really can affect your overall health.
“Gum disease is among the leading causes of inflammation in the body,” Dr. Maples tells Elite Daily. And gum disease, she adds, has been linked to serious systemic diseases. So not only do you have to worry about your mouth feeling funky, but things like “aging of the arteries, premature wrinkling, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, decreased immune function, and other organ damage,” Maples says, are also cause for concern.
Listen, I totally understand that, when compared to all the Instagram-worthy face masks, bath bombs, and skin care regimens out there, oral hygiene hardly sounds like a luxurious part of your self-care routine. And even though the image of toothpaste foam falling out of your mouth, or the act of literally stringing out chunks of food from your teeth, isn't exactly a Kodak moment, it's still essential. If not for your confidence, take care of your oral hygiene for your overall health. I promise it'll make you feel good — and, if nothing else, it'll definitely give you some peace of mind.