When it comes to your smile, what is it that bothers you most? Many of us may have particular aspects of our smile that makes us flinch when a camera comes out, or when we see the pictures, but according to one recent study, it’s crooked teeth that have the biggest impact on our self-esteem.

woman hiding her face except one large eyeball

A Comprehensive Analysis of Smile Appearance

In order to determine how much impact different aspects of our smile have on our self-esteem, researchers looked at many different variables related to smile appearance. Occlusion characteristics (how well teeth fit together) were measured using the Index of Complexity, Outcome, and Need (ICON). ICON was developed to help characterize how much a person would benefit from braces, and looks at five different characteristics of occlusion that predict how well a person will be satisfied with orthodontic treatment.

In addition, researchers considered:

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

Buccal corridors are the areas between your teeth and cheeks that can be seen when you smile broadly. Occlusal cant is when your teeth all seem slanted from the horizontal of your face.

The golden proportion is a mathematical quantity that is common in nature and many people think is important for attractive proportions in nature, art, and individual appearance.

What Makes the Biggest Difference for self-esteem?

Researchers analyzed these smile characteristics for 155 people age 12-39, with an average age of 21. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of subjects were women. They asked these people how they felt about their smile, using a standardized smile questionnaire and a self-esteem scale. They found that malocclusion alone (the degree of crookedness), accounted for 4-27% of how attractive they felt their smile was and how good they felt about themselves. Women tended to put more emphasis on the appearance of their smile than men. Men tended to have higher self-esteem, and self-esteem increased with age. The other smile characteristics had little to no impact on the overall sense of a smile’s attractiveness or self-esteem.

Braces Will Make the Biggest Difference

Considering the insights of this study, it’s likely that straightening your teeth will do the most for improving the appearance of your smile and improving your sense of self. We offer several orthodontic options like Six Month Smiles and Invisalign. However, we understand that every person is different, and we will work hard to understand how we can help you get a smile you will love and will make you feel good about yourself.

To schedule your consultation with a River Edge cosmetic dentist, please call (201) 343-4044 for an appointment at the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.