About Face: Return to Emotions, Return to Connections

by Fay Goldstep, DDS, FIADFE, FASDA

During the last two-and-a-half years, we have lived a huge sociological experiment that will be studied for decades to come. The impact of the COVID measures will be discussed and dissected ad nauseum, with no clear consensus likely as the outcome. What we do know is what we missed the most – the joy of human connection.

We connect with each other mostly through visual cues. When masking was instituted, we lost the face, which provides so many of the cues to human emotions. The face is the link between people. Through the face we know how someone feels. Are they happy, sad, angry, anxious, excited, disgusted, afraid, confused, surprised? As children we learn how to read these cues and we continue to hone our emotional detective skills through life. We learn to judge how and when to interact with others. Does this person like me? Are they in a good mood? Are they angry? Are they upset about something? Will they be open to my suggestions, or should I try later?

If we were dogs, we would show all our emotions in our tails and masking would not have made a difference. However, as humans, when the masks came on, we shut each other out. We closed the connection. This was particularly harmful for young children who do not yet have the life experience of facial connections. They have now been conditioned to shut out others because they may be hazardous.

Thank goodness mask mandates have been lifted! Hopefully the harm that these mandates caused will be short-lived, and we can return to showing our emotions, picking up visual cues, and interacting with each other in an open human way.

We as dental professionals serve the face through the smile. We are instrumental in providing our patients with the means to show their feelings and to get their emotional message across. This issue of Oral Health will give you fresh ideas on how to help them do this. Let’s get reading to learn new concepts and new techniques to get our patients smiling.

Happy reading! Happy holidays!

About the Editor

Dr. Fay Goldstep has lectured nationally and internationally on Proactive/Minimal Intervention Dentistry, Soft-Tissue Lasers, Electronic Caries Detection, Healing Dentistry and Innovations in Hygiene. She has been a contributing author to four textbooks and has published more than 100 articles. She sits on the editorial board of Oral Health. Dentistry Today has listed her as one of the leaders in continuing education since 2002. Dr. Goldstep is a consultant to a number of dental companies, and maintains a private practice. She can be reached at goldstep@epdot.com.

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