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Influence of dental esthetics on social perceptions of adolescents judged by peers

American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2010.07.026
  • Cme


Introduction The relationship between physical appearance and social attractiveness is well established in the literature. The purpose of this study was to determine whether dental esthetics influenced the perceptions of teens when judging a peer’s athletic, social, leadership, and academic abilities. Methods The frontal-face smiling photographs of 10 teenage volunteers were each altered to create 1 image with an ideal arrangement of teeth and 1 with a nonideal arrangement. Two parallel surveys were constructed with 1 photo displaying either an ideal or a nonideal smile image of each subject. If the ideal smile image appeared in 1 survey, then the nonideal smile appeared in the other. Two hundred twenty-one peer evaluators sucessfully rated the pictures in 1 of the surveys by indicating their perception of each subject’s athletic, social, leadership, and academic abilities. Results The subjects’ photographs with ideal smile esthetics were consistently rated higher on average than the same subjects’ images with nonideal smile esthetics. The differences in ratings between ideal and nonideal smiles were significant for perceptions of athletic performance ( P = 0.0141), popularity ( P <0.0001), and leadership ability ( P <0.0001), but not for academic performance ( P = 0.0548). Conclusions On average, ratings for the ideal smiles in perceived athletic, social, and leadership skills were about 10% higher than those given for images with nonideal smiles. Based on these findings, it would be expected that orthodontic treatment resulting in improved smile esthetics can provide modest social benefits for adolescent patients.

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