The appearance of your smile is complex, composed of many factors. All of these factors can impact your sense of the appearance of your smile and your self-esteem. But if you are looking for cosmetic dentistry, which procedure is most likely to make the biggest difference? According to a new study, crooked teeth have the most negative impact on your self-esteem, so fixing them with orthodontics might make the biggest difference in your self-esteem.

A Comprehensive Analysis of Smile Appearance

Think we were just making an idle statement when we said your smile appearance is composed of many factors? Not at all. For this study, researchers looked at over a dozen different aspects of smile appearance. Five of these were related to crooked teeth, included as part of the Index of Complexity, Outcome, and Need (ICON), used to assess people’s potential benefit from braces. ICON includes a comparison of a person’s smile with ten graded pictures of smiles with different levels of orthodontic problems. It also includes crossbite, upper arch crowding or spacing, the relationship between front and back teeth along the sides of the smile, and the vertical relationship of front teeth.

woman with large glasses shows off her smile with braces

In addition, researchers considered a diverse array of other aspects of smile appearance, including:

  • Smile width
  • Maximum teeth display
  • Amount of gum display
  • Lip thickness
  • Visibility of buccal corridors
  • Occlusal cant
  • Deviation from golden proportion in the upper front teeth

Many of these factors are self-explanatory, but you might not understand some of them. The buccal corridors are the visible space between the sides of your teeth and your cheeks when you make a wide smile. Occlusal cant defines how the plane of your smile deviates from a perfect horizontal. Not everyone accepts the validity of the golden proportion, which is a mathematical quantity that some people think is important for attractive proportions in nature and personal appearance.

What Makes the Biggest Difference for Self-Esteem?

To determine what made the biggest difference, researchers analyzed the above factors for 155 smiles of people aged 12-39. The average age was 21, and 64% of the subjects were women.

To determine the impact these factors had on self-esteem, people were asked how they felt about their smile using two different tools. One was a questionnaire directed at smile aesthetics, while the other was focused on a self-esteem scale.

They found that the orthodontic factors accounted for as much as a quarter of people’s sense of their smile’s attractiveness and the impact it had on their self esteem. Other factors that impacted self-esteem included gender (men had higher self-esteem than women, and were less impacted by their smile) and age (self-esteem increased with age. Other smile factors had some impact, but not much.

before and after comparison showing a six month smiles patient

Six Month Smiles patient of Dr. Rice

Orthodontic Options

So if crooked teeth are impacting your self-esteem, you may be considering getting them straightened. Fortunately, you have many options for straightening teeth, so you can get the orthodontic treatment that best fits your goals and lifestyle.

Traditional braces have some drawbacks, but they remain the best approach if you need complex tooth movements.

works great for most orthodontic cases, and it doesn’t require the use of metal brackets and wires.

Six Month Smiles is a great approach if you have minor cosmetic complaints about your smile and want treatment done quickly.

The Inman Aligner is the fastest approach we have for straightening teeth. It can work in just ten weeks, though the cases it can be used on are limited.

We also use AcceleDent to speed your orthodontic treatment and can use porcelain veneers to reshape teeth instead of moving them.

Want to learn which is the best orthodontic treatment for you? Please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.