What makes a smile successful? That can be hard to define, but it’s a very important question for people who are concerned about the impact their smile may have on their personal and professional relationships.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota developed a study to find out which smiles were perceived as the most successful. Their study revealed that there isn’t one smile that’s perceived as more successful than the others. Instead, there is a range of smiles that are all generally acceptable.
A Reconstructive Surgery Perspective
It’s important to understand the perspective of this study before looking at it. This isn’t a cosmetic dentistry study or even a dental one at all, although it does have some insight for people considering smile makeovers. The study was led by a reconstructive plastic surgeon who was looking for information to use for rebuilding patients’ smiles after serious facial injuries. She wanted to know what characteristics would be important for helping her patients reintegrate into society after surgery.
Most studies that have looked at the question of smile attractiveness have used still images of smiles. But smiles aren’t just static positions of the teeth: they’re dynamic creations. So for this study, researchers wanted to show people dynamic smiles. The formation of the smile was considered important for certain reconstructive questions. For example, did it matter if the two sides of the smile moved at the same time or not?
Based on ratings from more than 800 people, researchers came to the conclusion that there was no one perfect smile. Instead, there’s a range of smiles that are all considered reasonably acceptable. However, these smiles do share a number of relevant characteristics. These smiles tend to be moderate in all areas: angle of lips, show of teeth, and breadth.
What about Your Perfect Smile?
As we said, this study wasn’t focused on cosmetic dentistry, so it doesn’t tell us anything about tooth shape or whiteness. These were all the same on the smile model used. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn some things from this study.
First, moderate tooth show is preferred. This means that you don’t want a smile that doesn’t show enough of your teeth. If your teeth are small, worn, or hidden behind your gums, it may not be successful. We’ll want to enlarge your teeth or contour your gums to ensure you show enough teeth when you smile. But we don’t want too much tooth show, so we have to avoid making porcelain veneers or other restorations too large.
The study also had another interesting insight: a small amount of asymmetry is preferred. Normally, symmetry–when things on both sides of your face are the same–is considered beautiful, but perfect symmetry is not. This study noted the difference in terms of timing for the smile. If one side of the smile moved just slightly before the other, it was considered more attractive. This is also true of your teeth. We want to correct major differences, but retaining a little bit of asymmetry helps your smile maintain its personality.
Looking for Your “Perfect Smile”?
There isn’t just one perfect smile because each person has their own perfect smile. If you are unhappy with your current smile and want to pursue your own perfect smile, we can help.