What Makes a Smile Beautiful?
Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Kristen Chenoweth has one of the prettiest smiles around. It makes total sense that Listerine would tap her to
shill for partner with them in a promotion to raise money for America’s Toothfairy, a nonprofit with the noble mission of providing dental care to children in need. As per the media release we received, just click a link, watch a commercial an educational video and Listerine will give an additional buck (up to $5000 total) to the organization, on top of a $100,000 donation.
Slacktavism at its finest.
Normally, we ignore such releases, but in this one, some results from a Listerine-sponsored survey caught our attention:
- Nearly half of Americans surveyed don’t think their smiles are beautiful
- 43 percent don’t smile in photos because of stained teeth
Overlook this setting up the pitch for Listerine Whitening to save the day. (By the way, did you know that Listerine was once sold as a floor cleaner and cure for gonnorhea until its ads made “halitosis” a household word and ongoing cause of anxiety?) Taken on their own, these results are kind of sad.
Sure, if stained teeth are the only thing keeping you from liking your smile, then, sure, whitening might help. If there are other issues – say, crooked or missing teeth – a skilled restorative dentist or orthodontist can help you achieve the kind of smile you want.
But are physical qualities of a smile actually the only – or even the main – factor that determines a smile’s attractiveness? Is it the smile itself we like – its physical aspects such as shape, alignment and color? Or is it what the smile suggests or expresses – what’s behind the smile?
Thought experiment: In your mind’s eye, picture the smile of your spouse, partner or other loved one as they look at you. Does it make you smile? Do you find it attractive? Now try to focus just on their teeth and lips. Is their smile perfect? Are the teeth bright white? Do you notice any little imperfections – say, a snaggletooth or a little gap between the front teeth? Do those qualities make the smile less attractive to you? Or are they things that make the smile special?
What a smile says and shows – that seems to be its real beauty, and maybe the source of its power, too.
Image by Mait Jüriado, via Flickr