What Really Qualifies As A “Great Smile?”

We talk a lot about smiles around here, and for good reason: they are an important and unique part of you!  


But, have you ever considered if one type of smile is more favorable than another, or attracts more attention? Or maybe the question should be how often you’ve considered it! What about fake smiles or a toothy grin?  

 The world’s best smiles

You’re not the only one. All this curiosity actually led scientists to study which type of smile people respond best to. And in addition to studying they type of smile, researchers also analyzed the benefits of smiling. Keep reading as week decode the science behind smiling and what your smile really means! 


The history of smile studies 


In the mid-1800s a French neurologist named Guillaume Duchenne set out to determine if he could distinguish the difference between a fake smile and a real one. And while his experiments today may be classified more as torture (he electrocuted his subjects), he did break down smiles into two groups: those that involved the crinkling of the eyes and those that only use the muscles around the mouth. He determined that the former was a genuine smile while the latter was insincere.  


The next major smile study didn’t occur until 1974, where researcher Leonard Rubin found that there were three basic kinds of smiles. The most common smile type is the “Mona Lisa” smile where the corners of the mouth go up and the top teeth are exposed. Nearly two thirds of people smile this way. Next is the canine smile where the canine teeth are exposed. Approximately 31% of people have this as their go-to smile. Finally, the full dentures smile is the least popular with only 2% of people smiling this way. This smile is when the lips are pulled back all the way exposing both rows of teeth. Julia Roberts is someone who has this smile. 


Smiles continue to fascinate researchers, and only a few years ago the BBC released additional research that concluded there were 19 different types of smiles. These smiles range from contempt to flirtatious to out-right fake.  


The aesthetics of a smile  


A bright, beautiful smile is inviting and gives off a great first impression. But what measurably makes someone think your smile is beautiful? 


  • First, many people look at the lips and determine how they frame your smile. 
  • Next, people notice the health of the gums and gum structure. Gums that are recessed, diseased, or uneven distract from your smile. In fact, many people with oral health problems admit to no longer smiling due to fear of highlighting problem areas in their mouth.  
  • The microaesthetics of the teeth include the color and how they reflect light. If you have small chips or imperfections, your teeth may absorb light unnaturally and make your teeth look more grey or yellow than they really are.  


How important are teeth to a smile? 


Attractive smiles have one universal thing in common: straight, evenly-spaced, white teeth. Our brain is programmed to find certain images attractive, including teeth shape and structure. And since first impressions are often lasting impressions, having clean teeth and healthy gums is monumentally important for self-confidence. Research has shown that people who smile less often suffer fewer smiles due to poor teeth, and are generally less happy and more anxious than those who smile frequently. 


A beautiful smile can convey confidence, happiness and approval—all qualities necessary for a successful personal and professional life! If your smile is something that makes your self-conscious or that you’re embarrassed of, give our office a call today. We love restoring smiles and helping each patient feel confident about their mouth. Don’t delay your happiness!

Also published on Medium.