Imagine you’ve been set up on a blind date. You don’t know anything about this person except that your mutual friend thinks, “you guys would be great together”, and that he/she has an affinity for dogs and works in finance. So you put on your Sunday best, take a quick shot of liquid courage, and head off to a nice (but not too nice) restaurant to find out if the stars have finally aligned. However, when you finally meet said person, you immediately realize the one thing your friend conveniently failed to mention- they have terrible teeth.
Do You Have A Winning Smile?
For many people, bad teeth are a deal breaker. In fact, a recent study suggests that nearly 50 percent of us believe that a great smile is the most important feature in making a good impression; and even more important when considering a potential love interest.
In a recent interview, Dr Mark Hughes, founder and clinical director of the Harley Street Dental Group in London, comments on the importance of a good smile. “If someone has a strong smile, you feel they are a strong person and that is very attractive. It is becoming more and more culturally unacceptable to have discolored, missing and crooked teeth.”
Similarly, according to psychotherapist and novelist, Lucy Beresford, our brains are hardwired to associate good teeth with youth. “Having good teeth is a sign of youth and fertility-in our psyche, good teeth equal fitness and vitality.”
But what about the other 50 percent? Are bad teeth always a hard no, or can their be charm in a slightly imperfect smile?
New York native, Megan, 26, agrees with the latter. “I love a quirky smile. I think when it comes to teeth, health is more important than perfection,” says Megan. “If someone’s smile isn’t blindingly white, or they have a couple of crooked teeth or a gap, it’s definitely not a deal breaker. Just so long as they are confident in their smile and own it. Yellow, unhealthy teeth on the other hand- no way. Hygiene is important.”
“I love a quirky smile. I think when it comes to teeth, health is more important than perfection.”- Megan, 26, New York
Indian fashion photographer, Anushka Menon, also doesn’t mind a few flaws. “I love the gap!” she says in a recent interview with Vogue. “When you have a face and body to go with it, that imperfection seems like the icing on the cake.”
Sure a million-watt Hollywood smile is not always realistic; and models can get away with gapped-tooth grins; but what about the rest of us? Surely not everyone is as open-minded as Megan when it comes to the dating scene.
For Samuel, a 31-year-old consultant from Queensland, there is nothing cute or charming about a bad smile. “When I meet a girl it is the first thing I notice. I’ve gone out with girls with crooked and discolored teeth before and honestly, it was distracting. Maybe I’m shallow, but I think bad teeth are a major turn off. I know that not everyone can afford braces or cosmetic surgery, but even just a little teeth whitening can go a long way.”
“I’ve gone out with girls with crooked and discolored teeth before and honestly, it was distracting. Maybe I’m shallow, but I think bad teeth are a major turn off.”- Samuel, 31, Queensland
Gretchen, a 34-year-old mother of two from London, also advocates getting a little help if your smile isn’t naturally as appealing as you’d like.
“When I was in my early twenties I had a terrible time dating and meeting men. Growing up, my family did not have enough money for braces, so I always had slight space between my front teeth. I’m not sure it was something other people noticed much, but it absolutely killed my self-esteem. I could never laugh and flirt with confidence like my girlfriends. And any time we took group photos I’d give my best, toothless grin. So at 25 I decided to save up and get porcelain veneers. For me it was about feeling comfortable in my own skin and finally fixing a pesky problem. I think my newfound confidence must have been noticeable because I met my now husband about 6 weeks after the procedure.”
Ultra popular dating app, Tinder, also released recent data to support that people who smile in their profile photos (regardless of the shape, color or size of their teeth) receive 10 times more ‘swipes right’ than those who don’t.
“I think it’s all personal preference,” Adam, 23, Philadelphia adds. “When I meet someone out at a bar, or online, I am much more interested in their personality and interests, rather than how white or straight their teeth are. Sure, looks are important, but someone’s smile is only a small fraction of what makes them “datable” or attractive.”