What makes a perfect smile? If you asked that question to ten random people on the street, you’d probably get ten different answers — or at least ten very vague ones. But did you know that scientists have actually researched what makes the most aesthetically pleasing smile?
The Ten Factors of a Smile
Andre Wilson Machado, an orthodontic researcher in Brazil, wrote an in-depth article in which he presents his protocol for the key factors of smile assessment: The “ten commandments” of smile aesthetics.
First up: the smile arc. If you were to trace the bottom line of your upper teeth, would that line be straight, curved downwards like a “U”, or curved upwards like a rainbow? The depth and direction of the smile arc is key to the appearance of the smile, with a downward curve generally being found most attractive, and a straight line with no curve making the bearer look older.
The second and third factors refer to the shape and positioning of the upper front six teeth, sometimes called the “aesthetic zone” because they make up the vast majority of the visible smile. If the front teeth are too wide, they can make the smile appear stunted, but if they’re too long, they can give a buck-toothed appearance. For the other four teeth (two on each side of the front teeth), the most important thing is that they’re positioned symmetrically.
The fourth through sixth factors aren’t about teeth at all: They posit that visible gaps between teeth, asymmetrical gums, and a smile that displays too much of the gums can all drag down your smile, even if your teeth are perfect.
Unless you’re a dentist, you can probably ignore the seventh and eighth factors, which address the “buccal corridor” and “midline angulation.” These two, Machado notes, are not generally noticeable to the average person.
The ninth factor, however, is very noticeable to the average person — in fact, you may notice some of these things when you look at your own smile in the mirror. This factor refers to the color and shape of the teeth in general. Yellowed teeth, or teeth that are shaped in such a way that they leave triangular gaps along the gumline, are both common cosmetic problems.
Finally, the tenth factor is lip volume. While this may seem unrelated to orthodontics, the positioning of your teeth actually plays a central role in the shape and volume of the lips. So skip the lip fillers, at least until you’ve had orthodontic treatment!
Smile Aesthetics are Subjective
While there is certainly a standard type of smile that most people tend to find attractive, ultimately, every smile is different. Nobody wants a cookie cutter smile! That’s why you deserve a cosmetic dentist who doesn’t just understand what makes an attractive smile, but is willing to work with you to figure out precisely what type of smile suits you and your look.