Your smile communicates a lot about you – your overall health, diet, hygiene habits, whether you smoke, and even reproductive prowess. In this way, your smile is a kind of advertisement.
A study in PLOS One a couple years ago confirmed the importance of a good smile.
Smiling is a common behaviour in our species and this is usually viewed positively by those receiving the smiles. Smiling is seen in many different social situations, including those involving cooperation and affiliation. Importantly, smiling is also one of the first indications of sexual interest in our species. Hence, one of the opening acts of any new sexual partnership is a mutual tooth display.
Its authors looked at the effect of teeth spacing and color on the perception of attractiveness by showing participants a series of digitally manipulated images. It’s probably no surprise that yellowed teeth and significant gaps between the teeth had a negative effect on that perception.
The effects were however most strongly seen in female faces. Therefore it is tentatively concluded that the teeth of both sexes do indeed act as human ornament displays but that the female display is more complex because it additionally signals residual reproductive value, although more studies are required to fully confirm this.
White, normally spaced teeth signal youth and good health. (Our teeth grow darker as we age.)
So are older adults and those with visually imperfect smiles doomed to lonely lives? Hardly. In fact, there are many who embrace a “flawed” or irregular smile (as a variety of stories, for instance, attest).
And as we’ve noted before, cosmetic dentistry is no cure-all nor a guarantee of happiness orconfidence.
Yet at the same time, research consistently suggests that an attractive smile has real world benefits, socially and professionally. It can affect how others perceive us. It can affect our employment prospects.
Those are compelling reasons to pursue things like whitening, orthodontic treatment, veneers or even implants to create a more beautiful and pleasing smile.
And there are ways of doing so holistically, keeping the whole body health of the individual in mind. Using biocompatible materials. Conserving as much natural tooth as possible. Recognizing the relationship between the bite – how the teeth come together – and overall health.
Creating smiles that support good health – body, mind and spirit.