As touched on last time a beautiful smile instantly conveys multiple positive messages; but a beautiful smile is not just about having straight teeth. Teeth are closely connected to jaw, which forms a person’s chin, while lips are supported by the teeth, these three elements (lips, teeth and chin) need to be in alignment in order to maximise the beauty of a smile.
Align Technology who run Invisalign (my favourite treatment modality) have done several surveys exploring these notions.Indeed they found that the ideal male smile is made up of Robert Pattison’s luscious lips, David Beckham’s dazzling teeth and Orlando Bloom’s definite jaw line. While the ideal female smile is made from Angelina Jolie’s bee stung lips, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s gnashers and Jennifer Anniston’s heart shaped chin.
Now what is it about these seemingly intimate organs that pushes our buttons? The question “what is beauty’ has been and still continues to be more than ever one of the most debated and written about concepts in western literature.
Interestingly human perception of facial beauty may have genetic, environmental or multifactorial foundations. Indeed a study by Langlois et al supported the genetic theory, he demonstrated that infants, from newborns until two years of age when simultaneosuly presented with two facial photos have a tendency to stare longer at the face previosuly rated as more attractive by adults. It has been suggested that facial beauty is a requirement for sexual selection leading to improved opportunity for reproduction.
Beauty has largely been linked to facial proportions. Indeed the concept that ‘ideal’ proportions are the secret of beauty is the oldest idea regarding the nature of beauty. The most famous of all axioms about ideal proportions is that of the golden proportion. This is a geometrical proportion. It strives to put a mathematical stance on symmetry and beauty and has been explored by several greats including Plato. The proportion has also been the basis of Smile Design and used to improve the proportions and geometries of the teeth.
As dentists, when designing a smile we must look at the entire face. Of course jaw structure is key in orthodontics and indeed dentists work closely with surgeons to improve any facial anomalies. However have we become too obsessed with symmetry and so called perfection in the narcissistic society which we live in?
There are several red flags which we as professionals look out for when treating the patient who strives for ‘ultimate symmetry and perfection’. It may be argued that a healthy dose of vanity leads to a comfortable level of self-esteem. Narcissism, on the other hand, is an unhealthy self-absorption that should be addressed. Indeed body dysmorphia is a problem which is very prevalent in modern day culture. It seems ridiculous to me that people in Western Society acquire fame for merely flaunting themselves on social media and are garnted a crown as celebrities. Egos are fed by increased follower ratings and as a society we are accepting this.
I dread to think that future generations will be learning about the evolution of the selfie sick in the noughties whilst the other side of the world could barely afford food and basic sanitation.
In my world I like to think that imprefction is beauty. Quirks and anomalies can make a smile more endearing and attractive. Think of Kiera Knightley and the imperfections in her teeth which add beauty to her smile.
In the assessmnet of dental aestehtics I believe that art and science must act in unison. The father of orthodontics – Mr Angle professed something great about those dentists studying to move teeth. He stated that the student ‘should be more keenly interested in art generally and especially in relation to the human face.’
This is why a consultation with the dentist is imperative. By this we can ascertain what is suitable for your face – the colours, shapes, dimensions, symmetry, translucency- the list goes on! I try to understand ones personality and tailor this to their treatment needs.
Copious amounts of studies have been carried out and unfortunately for better or worse, research shows beauty matters; it pervades society, even more so now than ever. Thus, striving to appear attractive may not be such a vain endeavor after all. This isn’t to say plastic surgery is necessarily the answer, nor is extreme dentistry. One can enhance the natural aesthetics of their teeth in a safe and predictable manner.