Believe it or not, there are a fair few. It might seem a little bit weird – to think that the color of your teeth could possibly affect your social standing! But, oddly enough, it really can, and it does, insidiously, because it’s part of your overall beauty. This is not so much a matter of your actual dental pigmentation, as much as it’s a matter of the implied meaning we attach to it. We as humans tend to understand the world via metaphors, and we also use that framework to judge each other on a whole ton of things.
When it comes to teeth, there are actually quite a few judgy steps that we make them walk in our minds. So in this article, we decided to take a look at the way we look at other people’s teeth, what we tend to infer from their appearance, and just why on Earth it should ever matter to any of us.
Why Do We Even Look At Other People’s Teeth, To Begin With?
The short answer is: “Because evolution told us to.” The longer answer is still pretty straightforward, though. Checking out a person’s teeth is an atavistic way of checking out somebody’s eligibility as a partner for procreation. It’s a purely instinctive thing and has nothing to do with our modern concept of relationships. It might be a bit rude or embarrassing to say, but it’s not much different than looking at a horse’s teeth.
Do you know that expression “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”? Sure you do. We have all been told at least once in our life to not question the value of a freely given gift. This is a perfectly valid point from the perspective of good manners, but did you know what this odd idiom actually refers to? The expression comes from the horse grooming and trade business and is kind of ironic.
Taking a good and attentive look at a horse’s chompers is one fairly accurate way of determining the animal’s age, and thus its overall quality compared to price. If one were looking to purchase a race horse, a working horse, a war steed, they sure as cement wouldn’t settle for some tired old rag, right? So people would look at a horse’s teeth to get a sense of the animal’s mileage, so to speak.
By the same token, if someone received a horse as a gift, looking at its teeth would be extremely rude and ungrateful behavior – kind of like asking “How much money did you pay for this?” before deciding whether or not to accept a birthday present. Okay, but how does that translate to humans, you might ask?
Well, to put it bluntly, we look at the condition of a person’s teeth, and from that, we make inferences about their overall physical condition. Based on what their teeth say about their health and strength, we draw conclusions on whether that human might be worth combining genes with. This is a crude way of saying it, to be sure, but that really is the gist of that mental process.
The color, shape, placement, and sturdiness of our teeth are not decided at random. They are directly influenced by certain factors, such as genetics, nutrition, habits (e.g. smoking and drinking), underlying health conditions, and just plain age. In other words, we can make educated guesses about all of those things just from seeing a person’s smile. Even science agrees that teeth are an important signal of the quality of a potential mate. You can get a more in-depth look into that from this article.
So, as you can see, having attractive teeth is actually a pretty big deal. Not only will you enjoy seeing a pretty smile in the mirror, but you will also increase your chances in the dating game!
So What Exactly Makes A Set Of Teeth Attractive?
Alright, after all the talk about horses and mileage, you now want to know the criteria for assessment. We got you covered. The idea of a pretty smile varies a lot across cultures: there are even some tribes that file their teeth down into spikes! But we are going to disregard all of the odd variations and focus on the modern civilization’s ideas of beautiful smiles.
In our modern world, teethe will be considered attractive if they are healthy, strong, properly shaped, clean, and bright. Let’s take a look at each of these factors in turn.
Healthy teeth entail enamel and gums free of cavities, bacterial infections, fungal infections, which are not overly sensitive to high and low temperatures, which can withstand the pressure of biting into hard foods. Overall it can be taken to mean simply “teeth and gums without any medical issue.” The best way to achieve this is to pay attention to each of the other points, and all those various goals come together into overall healthy teeth.
Strong teeth are those that are, first and foremost, whole, undamaged. This means that both the enamel (the outer white layer) and the bone underneath it are in one piece. Whether this is all-natural or features a filling doesn’t actually matter, believe it or not. There is no shame in having some fixing done, we all need it at some point.
If you are especially concerned about the aesthetic value of the fix, you can always ask your dentist for more discreet options that will blend in with your natural teeth. Nowadays there are different types of fillings, bridges, and crowns to choose from, so feel free to explore all your options. You can learn more about different types of tooth fillings and their pros and cons on this page – verywellhealth
Of course, the priority is still functionality. The would-be no point in pretty teeth if they aren’t sturdy enough to withstand the stress of everyday use.
Properly shaped teeth means having them neatly aligned and more or less uniform. This is something you will have anyway, if your adult teeth developed without any problem. However, a lot of us do have some problems with that, and our teeth end up more or less crooked. Sometimes the baby teeth are slow coming out, sometimes there’s injury or just messy dental genes.
These developments usually don’t pose any serious problem, though it is possible to have your bite slightly off. if you wish to bring your teeth to the “correct shape”, bracers are your best bet. They are a time-proven solution, readily available, and great at achieving what they are supposed to achieve.
Now, you might think bracers would be an absolute detriment to your beauty situation, instead of a benefit. This isn’t true. There is luckily no need to fear looking like the geeky bullying target from old movies anymore. Nowadays bracers come in several variants, and if you want them discrete on the border of invisible, you can opt for that.
Clean teeth – now this really speaks for itself. Still, it’s always worth it to reiterate what constitutes a proper dental hygiene routine. Brush at least twice a day – after you wake up and before bed, for 2-3 minutes. Play a song for yourself to help the time pass more quickly.
If possible, brush also after each meal, especially if you ate something acidic or sugary. Floss once or twice a day. Use a good quality antibacterial mouthwash. Choose a toothbrush with softer bristles so as to avoid damaging your gums. You might also want to look for one that has a tongue cleaner on the back of the brush head. If you have sensitive or damaged teeth, pick your toothpaste accordingly.
Brightness, finally, is something that can only be achieved if all of the above is covered. If you have chipped or stained teeth, or they’re at weird angles, they will never look as pearly as they could. That said, sometimes proper care and hygiene simply isn’t enough. Sometimes your teeth will look dull no matter how healthy they are.
In that case, you may want to consider whitening them. Ask your dentist to recommend trustworthy, good quality, and guaranteed teeth whitening solutions that won’t break your bank. These include teeth whitening kits, designated toothpastes, professional whitening services, and veneers, among others. Discuss your desires and possibilities and see what would be the optimal option for your particular requirements.
How Can You Make Sure You Win The Smile Game?
To begin with, follow all of the above advice. Yes, really, all of it. Even if you turn to the pros for repairs and augmentations, at the end of the day you’re the one who is going to have to maintain it all. Get comfortable with dedicating actual time to your teeth.
In addition, give your lips some tender loving care too. Keep them healthy and beautiful. Drink a lot of water to prevent them from drying out and cracking. Avoid licking them, so as not to provoke chapping. If necessary, use a mild exfoliant every now and then to remove any dead skin cells and restore the smooth surface.
Invest in a good quality lip balm (ladies and gentlemen alike). Skip all the fussy perfumes, colors, and aromas: look for a neutral product that has been formulated for hydration and protection. If at all possible, get one with a SPF – lips can get sunburn just like other body parts!
Also, though it may sound silly, practice your smile. Seriously. Get yourself a mirror and some peaceful alone time. Remember something that genuinely makes you feel good. Think of a happy vacation, a delicious meal, that one steamy partner you’ll never forget, your favorite niece or nephew, anything goes.
The point of the exercise is to see what you look like when you genuinely smile, and then learn to replicate that until it no longer looks like a replica. Do you grin ear to ear? Do you just smirk a bit? Show only your upper teeth? Learn how your smiles work in order to identify their strongest, most beautiful points.
Why Does Any Of This Stuff Matter?
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, whiter teeth and a prettier smile really do have a direct impact on your social standing. It may seem minor, but it is definitely there – and you can exploit it.
The principle is simple: people will like you more and give you better opportunities if they find you attractive. This doesn’t refer just to job prospects (which should never hinge on looks to begin with). People have an easier time approaching others whose physical appearance aligns with their ideals or preferences. Since everyone prefers a well-groomed company, you can see that a neat smile is universal.
If you smile, you signal that you are friendly, have no bad intentions and are open to communication. If your smile is seen as attractive, you’re perceived more positively and receive a disposition boost form others around you. You are more likely to be seen as upbeat, warm, easy to cooperate with, kind, optimistic. All of these are traits that people look for in business partners, romantic partners, friends, and even just casual acquaintances.
In contrast, if you smile rarely or never, or if your smile is perceived as ugly or strange, people are more likely to see you as an oddball, pessimistic, withdrawn, hard to get along with. Therefore, they will be less likely to want to approach you or offer you a position in their life or workplace that would let you get close to them.
If this all seems somehow rigged and shallow to you, that’s because it fundamentally is. But you shouldn’t blame anyone for playing these games – literally none of us can help it. These are some instinctual biases that we have carried over from our animalistic ancestry. Really the only thing any of us can do is read these social rules carefully, and then do our best to spin them to our benefit.