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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

                                                                      1415 SAGE STREET ~ GERING, NEBRASKA 69341 
      Call: 308-436-3491           

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There is a long tradition of determining character on the 
basis of facial and head shapes

Seal: Public Health Service - 1798

Oral Health and
Quality of Life

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Diseases and disorders that damage the mouth and face can disturb well-being and self-esteem. The effect of oral health and disease on quality of life is a relatively new field of research that examines the functional, psychological, social, and economic consequences of oral disorders. 

Most of the research has focused on a few conditions: tooth loss, craniofacial birth defects, oral-facial pain, and oral cancer. The impact of oral health on an individual’s quality of life reflects complex social norms and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions. 

There is a long tradition of determining character on the basis of facial and head shapes. Although cultures differ in detail, there appear to be overall consistencies in the judgment of facial beauty and deformity that are learned early in life. Faces judged ugly have been associated with defects in character, intelligence, and morals.

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The Impact of Craniofacial-Oral-Dental Conditions on Quality of Life
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Missing teeth: People who have many missing teeth face a diminished quality of life. Not only do they have to limit food choices because of chewing problems, which may result in nutritionally poor diets, but many feel a degree of embarrassment and self-consciousness that limits social interaction and communication.

Craniofacial birth defects: Children with cleft lip or cleft palate experience not only problems with eating, breathing, and speaking, but also have difficulties adjusting socially, which affects their learning and behavior. The tendency to “judge a book by its cover” persists in the world today and accounts for many of the psychosocial problems of persons affected by craniofacial birth defects.

Oral-facial pain: The craniofacial region is rich in nerve endings sensitive to painful stimuli, so it is not surprising that oral-facial pain, especially chronic pain conditions where the cause is not understood and control is inadequate, severely affects quality of life. Conditions such as temporomandibular (jaw joint) disorders, trigeminal neuralgia, and postherpetic neuralgia (chronic pain following an attack of shingles affecting facial nerves) can disrupt vital functions such as chewing, swallowing, and sleep; interfere with normal activities at home or work; and lead to social withdrawal and depression.

Oral Cancer: Surgical treatment for oral cancer may result in permanent disfigurement as well as functional limitations affecting speaking and eating. Given the poor prognosis for oral cancer (the five-year survival rate is only 52 percent), it is not surprising that depression is common in these patients.

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Economic Costs 


Recent estimates put the lifetime costs of the multiple surgeries and other medical, dental, and rehabilitation therapies for treating cleft lip or cleft palate at a minimum of $100,000. 


The overall cost of chronic pain conditions in America was estimated to be $79 billion a decade ago. Given the prevalence of temporomandibular disorders and headaches, the amount representing chronic oral-facial pain would certainly be in the billions. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 1988 that 16.2 years of life were lost per person dying of oral cancer. This exceeds the average for all cancer sites, which was 15.4 years lost.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Institutes of Health

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PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
This site is privately and personally sponsored, funded and supported by Dr. Peterson.  We have no outside funding.
Confidentiality of data including your identity, is respected  by this Web site. We undertake to honor or exceed the legal requirements of medical/health information privacy that apply in Nebraska.

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