The Links Between Oral Health and Attractiveness – They say it’s unwise to judge a book by its cover. While that’s theoretically a good idea, things are very different in the practical world, where we are all in for judging a book by its cover. This is especially true when it comes to human interactions and attractiveness, where people often leap to preposterous conclusions just based on someone’s appearance.
And perhaps the most important part of our appearance is the face. While facial features like the nose and eyes do contribute to the impression others have of us, it’s our teeth that really make or break our social interactions because they participate in talking and smiling, the two most important aspects of socialization.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, tooth decay remains the most prevalent condition destroying the oral health (and thus attractiveness) of adults and children alike.
The good thing about tooth decay is that it’s largely preventable. The bad thing? You’d have to get an invasive procedure like a root canal if you leave it untreated for too long. To learn more about a root canal, read what the Australian Dental Specialists have to say. But for now, let’s take a look at some interesting science!
It’s about much more than just attractiveness.
Now you’d think your oral health influences your attractiveness only but that’s not true. The way your teeth appear can lead people to make conclusions about your intellectual ability, your social competence, and your mental health. You read that right!
For example, in one study, British researchers modified images of smiling men and women to create three categories. In one category, the teeth had been digitally whitened. In another, they’d been digitally shown to decay. And in the third category, the teeth had been left unaltered.
Scientists then showed these images to a group of 180 female participants and asked them to rate the people in those images on four personality traits — social competence, intellectual ability, relationship satisfaction, and psychological adjustment.
Not surprisingly, people with decayed teeth received negative judgements on all four personality traits while those with artificially whitened teeth led to more positive judgements. Interestingly, the gender and the demographic background of the people in those images did not make a significant impact on the judgements they received.
Now, this study doesn’t mean you go on to artificially whiten your teeth (remember, the natural hue of our teeth is slightly yellow).
But it does highlight one important fact — that minor changes in dental appearance (such as color in this study) can lead to significant changes in how people perceive us not just in terms of attractiveness, but also in terms of other important social parameters like our competence.
It’s not difficult to imagine how a good oral health can benefit us in many real-life situations, from job interviews to the dating sphere to even asking someone for a favor.
Have a date tonight? Make sure your oral health is in order.
Several surveys have shown that smiles and oral hygiene play a significant part in the dating realm.
For example, one survey conducted by the American Dental Association showed that most participants felt that the smile is the most attractive physical feature, outranking eyes, body, and the hair. Of course, if people consider the smile as the most attractive physical feature, they expect it to look pleasant when you’re on a date. And good oral health is an obvious requirement for a pleasant smile.
Interesting fact: in a similar survey (conducted by the Oral Health Foundation), the only trait that outranked the smile as being the most attractive attribute of a person was the personality. So while a good smile is important, smiling more often is even more important if you want people to like you!
The dark side of poor oral health — social discrimination
Poor oral health not only makes it difficult to get a date, but it can also make it difficult for you to function overall in society. That’s because in one study, Canadian researchers asked participants some questions about several conditions (like heart disease and tooth decay) that were known to affect socially marginalized people more.
Compared to other conditions, poor oral health was more commonly perceived to be associated with poverty, which shows a potential for discriminatory behavior against people with untreated oral conditions.
Remember, good oral health is indispensable!
The science on the subject is clear. Good oral health has been repeatedly shown to be associated with greater attractiveness as well as positive appraisal for other parameters like social skills and intellectual ability.
On the other hand, bad teeth not only make romance almost impossible for you, but might also make you the victim of discriminatory behavior. So if you’ve got dental problems that’ve been waiting to get attention for a long time, now is the time to visit a dentist!
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