29 June 2017

What are the ingredients of a pleasing smile?

Bigger smiles that show more teeth don't necessarily get a better reaction.

A previous Health24 article singled out the smiles of Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. But what exactly are the characteristics of these famous smiles that have captivated us through the centuries?

Less is probably more when it comes to a convincing smile, a new study finds.

Findings from the study were published online in the journal PLoS One.

Balance is key

More than 800 people were shown a series of 3D computer-animated smiles and asked to rate them. The smiles differed in features such as amount, mouth angle, symmetry and how many teeth were shown.

Bigger smiles that showed more teeth tended to be rated as less effective, genuine or pleasant. Successful smiles were those with a pleasing balance of teeth, mouth angle and amount of smile, the investigators found.

The study team – led by Nathaniel Helwig from the University of Minnesota – also found that smiles were rated as more successful if they developed symmetrically on the left and right side of the face.

The findings could help guide facial reanimation surgery and rehabilitation for people with stroke and other medical conditions that affect facial expressions, the researchers said.

The Health24 article mentioned above lists the following five important considerations when aiming for the perfect smile:

  • The width of the smile.
  • The colour of your teeth
  • Not showing too much teeth
  • Not showing too much gum
  • Being natural

Read more:

What's your signature smile?

Keep your smile healthy

A smile can lead to new relationships


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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