Your Smile May Mean More than You Think

Dr. Lee Sheldon

How important is your smile? When you look in the mirror, what do you look at first? And what do others look for first?

Imagine that you are starting a new relationship. Maybe you’ve recently divorced and you’re back “on the market.” You do all the right things. Maybe you decide to finally lose that 10 pounds that you’ve known that you need to lose forever. Maybe you update your wardrobe. Maybe you starting hanging out in the “right places.” You get a little more sleep. You exercise more, tone up, get fit. What do people look at most when they are meeting a new person?

Maybe you’ve decided to change jobs. You’ve been in the same job for too long, and it’s time for you to look elsewhere. Maybe you want to change careers altogether. But whether you’ve decided to work for yourself or you’re interviewing for that dream job, what is it that your prospective employer first sees in that critical first interview?

Think about trying to convince someone of your point of view. You have all the talking points correct. You have prepared for your meeting. You’re in the front of the conference room, PowerPoints all prepared, projector and screen are perfect. You’ve gargled, bought some new clothes, a new blouse, a new tie. You’re ready to just blow them away. What do they see first?

You can come up with your scenarios. The answer is the same—your smile is what they see first. The Amercan Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry commissioned an independent survey to ask over 1000 people of various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds what influences them the most when they see someone for the first time. The data was similar for every background.

Question: If you had to choose one, which of following first impressions are you most likely to remember about someone?
Answer: “A person’s smile” was at the top of the list at 48%. “The first comment or word a person says” was second at 25%. Posture was at 10%, clothes at 9%, and the smell of cologne or perfume at 8%.

Question: If you met two people – one with an imperfect or flawed smile, such as crooked or stained teeth, and one with a perfect smile – and had to compare the two on first impressions only, which of the following assumptions would you be likely to make? That the person with an imperfect or flawed smile _____ than the person with the perfect smile.
Answer: 39% said it made no difference at all, but 37% said that the person would be less attractive. One out of four people said that the person with the flawed smile has lower self-confidence.

Question: If you had to select one, which of the following is the one feature that you think can withstand the test of time most attractively as someone ages?
Answer: “Smile” was the leader with 45% of the respondents. Second place was “eyes” at 34%. Body type, hair, and legs were the remaining answers at 10% or less.

There are amazing things that dentists can do to increase your attractiveness, from whitening to veneers to braces to just plain old new dentures. Your appearance means a lot. Even if you’re not looking at yourself, others are looking at you. I talked about my own personal experience in this column. I had spaces between my teeth for my entire life. The spaces were increasing and my teeth had some chips in them. I finally had eight veneers done on my front eight upper teeth, and I’m happier than ever with my smile. I’m happy to show that smile off to my patients and show them the Befores and Afters. Take a look at your smile. Then see your dentist. You may change how others look at you as well as change how you feel about yourself.