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Study finds link between love and healthy teeth

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Being in an emotionally open and supportive relationship can lead to better dental visiting habits. (Photograph: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Tue. 29. November 2016

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BRISBANE, Australia: A study from the University of Queensland (UQ) has suggested a link between a healthy love life and good teeth. The study built on previous research in adult attachment theory and found that being in a trusting and happy relationship is more likely to encourage regular dental check-ups.

UQ researcher Grace Branjerdporn, a current PhD student, said that the study focused on the dynamics of romantic relationships and whether this affects oral health. “We determined that those who tended to avoid emotional intimacy, or worried their partner would not be available to them in times of need, were more likely to have negative oral health outcomes,” Branjerdporn said.

“Those who try to emotionally distance themselves from their significant other may be reluctant to schedule regular preventative dental appointments as they have higher levels of self-reliance, distrust of others and avoid seeking support.”

“On the flipside, you could say having a love life where you trust the other person and have higher self-worth leads to better dental visiting habits, more confidence related to your teeth and appearance, and rating your teeth better.”

A collaborative effort between UQ’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and School of Dentistry, the study examined a group of 265 people and found that financial factors played a surprisingly small role in oral health behaviours. With many participants covered by private health insurance (and thus able to access dental care cheaply), motivation primarily came from factors like aesthetic appearance rather than affordability.

The results of the study, titled “Associations between adult attachment and: oral health-related quality of life, oral health behaviour, and self-rated oral health”, were published in the February issue of the Quality of Life Research journal. The study is set to be replicated in Canada soon and could be used in the future to help identify and support people at risk of poor oral health behaviours.

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