A better smile isn’t the same as happiness

Patients need to understand that this isn't a cure for unhappiness.
Patients need to understand that this isn’t a cure for unhappiness.

Dentists need the support of health psychologists to enhance patients’ satisfaction with their appearance before they embark on aesthetic dental procedures.

These are the findings of a study by Sharmila Sarin, supervised by Dr Koula Asimakopoulou, and colleagues from King’s College London that was presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference on Wednesday 11 September in Brighton.

In the study 60 participants completed the Slade Body Satisfaction Scale and a Visual Analogue Scale assessing satisfaction with their appearance before and after their dental work. They also completed a short version of the Big Five personality test before their operation.

Irrespective of the dental procedure performed, people who were happiest about their appearance before receiving aesthetic dental treatment were those that were the happiest after treatment; dissatisfaction with one’s appearance seen in those high on neuroticism persisted after aesthetic dental work.

Sharmila Sarin and Dr Koula Asimakopoulou said: “We wanted to establish whether personality and the views that people have about their appearance before receiving aesthetic dental treatment would influence satisfaction with the outcomes of aesthetic dental procedures.”

“We found that it is in the patients’ and dentists’ interest to ensure that patients receiving aesthetic dental work start from as high a point of satisfaction with current appearance as possible. This will enhance the chances that they will be satisfied with the results of aesthetic dental treatment. Neuroticism is also likely to interfere with satisfaction with aesthetic dental work.”

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  1. The curricula for Bachelor of Oral Health degree courses have included teaching and learning in psychology, models of behaviour change including motivational interviewing for many years. Providing a team approach to patient care where the skills of OHT’s are incorporated in a practice ensure a more effective approach to patient care; great study Sharmila Sarin!


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