Do you dream of having the perfect smile? Many people do. A dazzling grin can be a powerful tool. It draws others to you, makes you more confident, and helps you navigate life more comfortably. Some studies even show that smiling can help you live longer – and who wouldn’t want that? But, contrary to what some may believe, there’s more to achieving smile perfection than having straight, white teeth. There’s math, science, and oral hygiene behind it. Here’s what you need to know!
What Makes a Smile “Perfect”?
The perception of a perfect-teeth smile varies across different cultures, personal preferences, and cultural norms. But there are a few general aesthetic traits, like straightness and brightness, that the larger society values. Thankfully, there’s a lot of smile research you can dive into for a more comprehensive perspective – all backed by data and science. Here’s a little peek!
What Is Considered a Perfect Smile According to Science?
In 2017, the peer-reviewed science journal PLOS One published a study on the “dynamic properties of successful smiles.” The researchers asked 800+ participants to rate 3D animations of various smiles according to their effectiveness, genuineness, and pleasantness.
The study found that participants reacted most positively to slightly asymmetrical smiles that were neither too wide nor too small. While symmetry is widely considered a marker of physical attractiveness, overly symmetrical smiles aren’t automatically “perfect” or “beautiful.”
Sofia Lyford-Pike, a reconstructive surgeon involved in the study, noted that the most successful smiles balanced visible teeth with smile angle and extent. “We observed somewhat of a Goldilocks Phenomenon […] too little or too much [teeth] can produce smiles that are perceived as fake and creepy,” she shares.
The PLOS One study touches on people’s perception of others’ smiles – but what about how you perceive your own? In a scientific report published in PubMed Central, researchers found that smile dimensions impacted self-perceived smile attractiveness.
A group of 600+ young adults rated their grins as more attractive when the smiles were more proportional to their faces, showed an “optimal” number of teeth, and had minimal gums peeking through. They also preferred it when their smile arcs were flat or slightly curved upwards.
A “smile arc” refers to the curvature of the upper front teeth in relation to the lower lip. In a separate PubMed Central study, researchers explain that the “ideal” smile arc occurs when the upper front teeth perfectly mirror the lower lip when someone forms a smile.
These are just a few of the studies that discuss the qualities of an ideal smile. It may be tempting to consider these factors as definitive but remember that you’re on your smile journey. Some of your quirks – like asymmetry or a “gummy” smile – can be assets with the right attitude. If you’re eager to achieve your version of perfection given your unique features, the golden ratio might help.
How the Golden Ratio Creates Perfect Smiles
The golden ratio (or proportion) is a mathematical concept frequently used in disciplines that focus on aesthetics, like art and design. It occurs naturally in many forms. You’ll see it in the spiral patterns of nautilus shells, spider webs, and other phenomena. The approximate value of the golden ratio is 1.618.
In the world of beauty and aesthetics, the golden ratio is often used to describe the ideal proportions of objects. Experts theorise that the human eye is drawn to images that feature the golden ratio – hence our near-instant attraction to faces that follow the sequence. The same logic applies to smiles.
How is the golden ratio applied in cosmetic dentistry?
In 1978, Dr Eddy Levin published a study in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry on the relationship between dental aesthetics and the golden proportion. Levin explains that the golden ratio can determine the ideal size, shape, proportions, and alignment of teeth.
On his official website, Dr Levin emphasises that the four front teeth are “the most significant part of the smile” and that “they are in the golden proportion to each other.” Given his findings, the doctor created the golden mean gauge. The instrument allows cosmetic dentists to accurately measure a patient’s teeth and propose corrections in line with the golden ratio. Ultimately, the ideal smile for you would be the one that best suits your face. The golden ratio is only there to guide the process.
How to Get a Nicer Smile
Today, many dental professionals use the ratio as part of the smile design process, wherein they develop treatment plans to help patients achieve a more harmonious smile. Treatments can vary from cosmetic (teeth whitening and veneers) to restorative (bridges). If you have misaligned teeth, your dentist may recommend clear alignment therapy – a corrective course that involves orthodontic devices like braces.
Wearing orthodontic devices may seem counterintuitive to your goal of an aesthetically pleasing smile. After all, wouldn’t they be obvious and distracting? Not necessarily. Traditional metal-wired braces are only one option. Clear aligners are another. The ones from ClearCorrect are so comfortable and discreet, they’re practically invisible. So, while your teeth slowly inch their way to golden ratio status, you can smile without feeling too self-conscious. No one will know you’re wearing them!
How to get a better smile without treatment?
Of course, you don’t have to jump straight into treatment if you’re not ready. For now, focus on developing consistent oral hygiene habits to keep your teeth healthy and clean. They may not appear pearly-white and perfectly proportional right now, but healthiness always trumps aesthetic perfection. Here are some tips:
- Brush at least twice a day.
- Floss your teeth regularly to remove stuck particles.
- Schedule regular trips to the dentist to get updates on your teeth.
- Consume teeth-friendly foods and beverages.
- Avoid habits that impact your oral and dental health negatively.
Also, never underestimate the power of confidence and embrace your natural teeth as they are. If it helps, always remember that the people closest to you already think you have the perfect smile. So, show it off and revel in your uniqueness! Who cares what science says?
Golden Proportions in Teeth. (n.d.). Golden Mean Gauge.
Helwig, N. E., Sohre, N., Ruprecht, M. R., Guy, S. J., & Lyford-Pike, S. (2017). Dynamic properties of successful smiles. PLOS ONE, 12(6), e0179708.
Horn, S., Matuszewska, N., Gkantidis, N., Verna, C., & Kanavakis, G. (2021). Smile dimensions affect self-perceived smile attractiveness. Scientific Reports, 11(1).
Levin, E. I. (1978). Dental esthetics and the golden proportion. Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 40(3), 244–252.
Seixas, M. R., & Câmara, C. A. (2021). The smile arc: review and synthesis. Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 26(3).
Walden University. (2022, November 8). The Power of Smiling.