Smiles matter, says dental poll

A new survey reveals that a smile is the most important physical attribute when it comes to attraction, second only to personality.

The poll, carried out on behalf of the British Dental Health Foundation also reveals that only 23% believed the nation had ‘good teeth’ and almost half the population was unhappy with their smile or teeth.

The findings are part of National Smile Month, the Foundation’s annual campaign geared towards promoting greater oral care for all.

This year the theme is ‘The Smile Factor’, and the aim of the campaign is to remind people that their mouth, teeth and smile is fundamental to all aspects of their life – whether career, personality, relationships, attraction or all-round good health.

The clear winner of the survey was personality, with 90% of respondents rating this human attribute highly when it comes to attraction.

A smile came second (56%), closely followed by your face (53%) and eyes (51%).

Dress sense, body shape, hair and height were also measured, with the latter bringing up the rear on 25%.

Of women surveyed, some 60% of women thought that teeth were of high importance.

Chief executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes even a small gesture like a smile can have a big difference when it comes to your confidence.

He says: ‘It takes 43 muscles to frown, yet it only takes 17 to smile. A simple smile can make others feel at ease around you and can be a powerful show of emotion, yet not everyone has the confidence to do so.

‘They say we can all hide behind a smile if you are not happy or are self-conscious about your teeth, and the results of the survey show even though many of us aren’t happy with our teeth and do avoid smiling because of their appearance, we’re still attracted to the opposite sex by a simple smile.

‘The theme behind this year’s National Smile Month lends itself perfectly to those people who want to get their own smile factor and portray real confidence through a smile.’

As in previous years, National Smile Month will be raising the awareness of how a healthy diet affects your oral health and good overall body health.

With 51% of people saying chocolate is the food which makes us smile the most (60% of women said this), the Foundation’s three key messages of brush for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, visit your dentist regularly as often as recommended and cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks are as important as ever.

With 37% of people concerned about stained or yellow teeth, 24% worried about potential bad breath and 22% about missing teeth, a factor men (25%) fear more than women (18%), there’s never been a better time to do something about it.

One of the main ways in which you develop staining on the teeth is due to smoking. The nicotine and tar content can make the teeth yellow in a very short time, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are almost brown after years of smoking.

Around 21% of the nation smoke, yet more than three times as many people (64%) are unhappy with their teeth because of discolouring.

Dr Carter said: ‘When you consider that your mouth and teeth are susceptible to the effects of the four thousand or so chemicals contained in cigarettes, it is encouraging to know two thirds of people who do smoke want to give up. Your oral health is severely affected by smoking, not to mention a far greater risk of developing oral cancer.

‘Tobacco is the most likely cause of mouth cancer, linked to around three-quarters of all cases of a disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK.’

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