As dentists, our number one priority is the health of our patients’ teeth and mouths. But to our patients, their smiles mean much more to them than just their health. Of course, this is important too – no one wants dental pain or disease but, more often than not, dental health and hygiene ranks lower on our patients’ list than it does ours.
This is evidenced by the huge rise in cosmetic dentistry in the UK over the last several years. In general, these procedures have little impact on the health of a patient’s smile. Obviously, as dentists, we must always have those considerations in mind, we must factor in the long-time health of the patient before we proceed with a crown or a whitening procedure, but for our patients, all they want is the aesthetic result.
This is, perhaps, because our smiles are considered to be one of our most important features – certainly one of the most influential. Indeed, the appearance of our smiles, of our teeth, can greatly affect the way other people perceive us. In one study, it was found that decayed and poorly maintained teeth led to more negative judgements over four different personality categories – social competence, intellectual ability, psychological adjustment and relationship satisfaction. On the other hand, those people who had whitened teeth were judged far more positively across all four categories.
As we know, physical appearance plays a key role in human social interaction, and our teeth are one of the most important features that help shape the perceptions of others. This is evident in building romantic relationships, where it has been proven that attractiveness plays a key role – and our teeth even more so. Indeed, it has also been found, in a survey conducted by Match.com, that our teeth were the number one physical feature on which both genders judged their prospective partners. In terms of overall attractiveness, teeth ranked second, only behind personality. Indeed, most participants commented that bad teeth would be the most likely reason for declining a second date.
What’s more, good dental appearance is often regarded as important in our professional lives. Research has found that having whiter, straighter teeth is seen as a demonstration of wealth and status and makes a person look more successful and employable. It is also perceived to reflect the standard of education a person has received, with people with a better dental appearance being seen as better educated and more intelligent.
When looking for a job, it is believed that having a whiter smile will also help impress employers, with a good smile often being a key factor in getting a new job. It may also help when the opportunity for promotion comes up and is a sign of professional and personal success.5
Evidently, then, having an attractive smile is an important feature in terms of the way other people perceive us, but having white teeth also helps improve our own self-esteem and confidence.
As such, dentists must be prepared to be able to offer their patients these additional treatment options. As we all know, today’s patients are vastly different from those 20-30 years ago – they are far more discerning, for starters and they understand that their smile can be improved in a way that will give them a head start. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why we have seen a marked increase in the number of people requesting cosmetic dentistry – and, in particular, tooth whitening.
Tooth whitening is an effective way of improving the appearance of a patient’s smile, giving them the result they’re looking for. For the practitioner, this procedure is a good way of enhancing their practice’s remit and improving profits – especially when the barriers to entry for whitening are so low. Importantly, however, it is necessary for professionals to use products they know will provide their patients with the best results.
Enlighten Whitening understands the importance of a person’s smile – and is the only whitening product that can guarantee a whiter shade. This is particularly important for patients, who know what a white smile means and want to see the results.
There’s much more to a smile than meets the eye, from our patients’ health to their perceptions of themselves and the way people judge them in a wide variety of different social scenarios. As dentists, we must always look after our patients’ oral health, but we should also consider these other factors and ensure our service caters to our patients’ needs. With tooth whitening, as an adjunctive procedure that can be included as part of regular treatments, all of these considerations can be met.
 LDF: Dentists’ income up thanks to cosmetic dentistry. Published online: 30/03/2015; link: https://www.ldf.co.uk/blog/dentists-income-up-cosmetic-dentistry/ [accessed 14/06/2017]
 S. Kershaw, JT Newton, DM Williams: The influence of tooth colour on the perception of personal characteristics among female dental patients. Published online: 15/02/2008, British Dental Journal 204, E9 (2008) link: https://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v204/n5/full/bdj.2008.134.html [accessed 14/06/2017]
 USA Today: Match.com What singles want: Survey looks at attraction, turnoffs. Published online 05/02/2013; link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/04/singles-dating-attraction-facebook/1878265/ [accessed 14/06/2017]
 Female First: The power of white teeth. Published online: 03/04/2013; link: http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/health/the-power-of-a-white-smile-286820.html [accessed 14/06/2017]
 J. Martin et al. Personality Style in Patients looking for tooth bleaching and its correlation with treatment satisfaction. Braz. Dent. J. vol.27 2016; link: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-64402016000100060 [accessed 14/06/17]