Do you have a Bright Smile ?
A Bright Smile sums up the attitude we present to the world.
It is great to have a beautiful smile and we're not just referring to perfect full lips and sparkling-white teeth. Sometimes the bright smile seen in magazines or advertisements comes across as the "afterwards" image in a promotion for dental products such a tooth whitening packs. That set us thinking ...
When meeting real people in "real life" day-to-day situations such as at the school gates or parents' evenings, in one's workplace, or even on holiday, what is your first conscious impression of the other person ? Answers vary according to many factors for example perhaps clothes make a difference - though less so in a situation in which everyone is wearing a uniform. One very common response among the small sample of people we asked was facial expression and - particularly important, his or her smile. Whole relationships, romances and marriages have resulted from appreciation of a beautiful bright smile. That makes a bright smile a very valuable asset - and one that needn't cost a fortune.
What makes the perfect bright smile ?
It would be wrong to suggest that a beautiful bright smile is simply the result of a "formula" that can be summarised in the form of step-by-step instructions or a short list of bullet points. On the contrary, to some people (including many babies and young children) a delightful bright smile comes naturally - it is innate, cannot be taught and doesn't need to be learnt. Other people seem to have lost their ability to smile in a warm, relaxed, and comfortable style. If it is true that the quality of one's smile strongly affects others' first impression of us then an inability to project a cheerful and genuine bright smile is a huge social disadvantage likely to impact all areas of one's life. With that importance in mind here are a few factors thought likely to affect others' impression of our smiles:
- Relaxed facial expression (tense facial muscles combined with the corners of one's lips turning upwards can come across as a rather "forced" and so perhaps insincere smile)
- Corners of lips turned upwards
- Bright attentive eyes (the "window on our souls", according to some!)
- Relaxed neck and shoulder muscles (again, tension in these areas may be obvious and convey an impression of a somewhat "wooden", inflexible and reserved person or mood)
- Sincere, friendly, or at least positive, intent
- Attractive lips (of colour and physical dimensions in proportion to the person's face and in some cases also outfit - can be nice if a lady's lipstick matches her pink dress; disconcerting if a gentleman's lips match his blue, black or grey suit!)
- Good teeth if the smile reveals teeth, though not all do.
So many aspects of the perfect bright smile cost nothing and require only awareness and a little effort. Not only do relaxed facial, neck and shoulder muscles help to create a good first impression to the other people around us but releasing tension in these areas is a good idea for our own quality of life and has many associated benefits. If you would like help to release muscle tension consider booking a massage and mention the areas of greatest tension to your massage therapist so that he/she can pay particular attention to them.
Most people know that a smile involves turning the corners of ones lips upwards - but that alone is definitely not enough to convey the perfect bright smile. A genuine sincere intention to greet people warmly and have a positive interaction with them may sound vague but can have a huge effect on how well one's smile comes across. Business networking trainers talk about the importance of being relaxed, open, and receptive to positive interactions with other people. One reason for that is that, on some level (conscious, semi-conscious or subconscious) most people are reasonably good at "reading" other people. "Fake smiles" are often identified as such so if you really want to give a great impression be sincere and let your bright smile shine through!
Finally, the physical aspects of a bright smile are also important. This is obvious to anyone looking around a room full of business women - it is likely that most or all are wearing make-up and that none of those forgot to apply her lipstick.
Physical aspects of the perfect bright smile
Beauticians and cosmetic surgeons might suggest a longer and more detailed list but according to the non-specialists we asked the main physical components of a perfect bright smile are:
- Great Teeth
- Great Lips
- Sparkling Eyes
The order of priority of the above varied between men and women. On reflection it would have been interesting to also ask some children but we didn't this time.
All three of teeth, lips and eyes are aspects of facial appearance for which various therapies, treatments and even surgical procedures are available. Are they necessary ? ... a good idea ? ... worth the money (if you have it!) ?
It is impossible to make a general assessment. Each individual is best qualified to understand his/her priorities, lifestyle, budget, and so on. Here are just a few thoughts about each:
- Great Teeth for a Bright Smile
The single aspect of one's bright smile that many people seem most interested in improving is their teeth. Not surprisingly, internet searches for images of "bright smile" or similar search terms tend to return mostly images of smiling people who have bright white and perfectly aligned teeth - sometimes seemingly disproportionately large teeth! There is certainly a clear association between bright white straight teeth and the ideal bright smile. The most attractive "look" and the best way to achieve it is a matter of considerable interest and discussion.
According to dentist and BACD President-Elect Nik Sisodia*,
_ "In the past, US dentistry was often perceived to lead the way in regards to cosmetic and restorative treatment, whereas uk dentistry did not always enjoy a very glamorous image in some countries around the world. Rules for what was considered aesthetic could lead to techniques involving tooth structure to be cut back, and replaced with porcelain veneers. Although individually veneers can look attractive, UK and European patients generally prefer individualised smiles that 'fit in' with the natural features of the face."
- Great Lips for a Bright Smile
Some people go to the inconvenience and expense of having cosmetic surgery to change the size and texture of their lips. Other people consider that too expensive, too risky, or just completely unappealing.
- Sparkling Eyes for a Bright Smile
Sparkling eyes don't necessarily require an optician, beautician or other expert assistance. Sometimes all that is needed is sufficient good quality sleep and a balanced attitude to life in order to minimise the physical indications of stress and anxiety building-up in the form of "bags" under ones eyes or excessive premature wrinkles around them. In addition to sufficient good quality sleep, other standard beauty advice usually includes drinking sufficient water, not consuming too much coffee or alcohol and moisturising as appropriate for one's skin type. That certainly sounds worth the effort to enhance one's perfect bright smile !
*British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Press Release 23 Sept 2010.