Some people are born with nearly perfect smiles, but there are methods you can try to learn to make your smile more attractive.
You can enhance your smile with different procedures such as lip fillers, lip implants, teeth whitening, braces, etc. You can also do simple things, like practicing how you smile, to make your smile more attractive.
The Science Behind a Perfect Smile
There is no one-size-fits-all perfect smile. Everyone has slightly different preferences, and different kinds of smiles will suit different faces. However, science shows that there is more to an attractive smile than lip shape and teeth. Most people agree that the “symmetry” of the smile is what makes it attractive.
One study looked into how the dynamic properties of a person’s smile can affect people (Helwig et al., 2017). The researchers in this study systematically manipulated a smile’s dynamic symmetry, dental show, extent, and angle. They then asked 802 people to rate the smiles by pleasantness, genuineness, and effectiveness. They also asked the participants about the smile’s perceived emotional intent – if the smile was “conniving” (think American Psycho or the Joker) or genuine.
One of the first things that the researchers noted was that the participants preferred smiles that developed slightly asymmetrically. The “favorite” smiles were ones where the lips went up on the left several milliseconds before the right. The study also showed that big smiles are not always the best smiles. The participants preferred those with an equal balance of visible teeth, smile angle, and the extent of the smile.
The participants felt uneasy with smiles that were “off,” for instance, a smile that showed a lot of teeth but with the smile closed tight. If one corner of the mouth was much lower than the other, it often made the person uncomfortable.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that the “Goldilocks Phenomenon” was the key to a successful smile, wherein you need just the right amount of each smile dynamic for it to be attractive. If there is too much or too little, people often find it creepy.
Enhance Your Teeth and Gums
A simple way to enhance your smile is to get teeth whitening. You can use at-home teeth whitening kits for a quick fix. Having your teeth whitened by a dentist will not necessarily yield better results but might also be worth it.
You may want to avoid certain foods and drinks, especially for the first few days after you whiten your teeth. Most teas, coffee, deeply-colored sauces, etc., will stain your teeth. Some habits like smoking can also make your teeth yellow.
Dental Filling or Bonding
If you have chipped teeth, dental filling or bonding is another quick way to make your smile more attractive. For most front teeth, dentists will use dental bonding. Dental bonding involves using teeth-colored composite resin to repair the chipped tooth.
Of course, a traditional way to enhance your teeth is to get braces. Braces tend to take longer to see results, but you will make the most use of your natural teeth. You may not have to settle for traditional metal braces either. Some people can opt for ceramic braces that will blend into their natural tooth color or lingual braces that go behind their teeth.
Many people can also ask their dentists if they can get Invisalign. These are clear dental trays that you use and change according to your dentist’s instructions. Invisalign cannot treat more extreme crooked teeth cases, but many people can go for this discreet option.
If you have just 1-2 teeth that are a bit-off (crooked, small chip, a different color, etc.), then you may not need to get braces. Many people can get dental veneers to hide the imperfect tooth.
A dental veneer is a custom-made, very thin, and tooth-colored shell (typically made of porcelain) that you attach to the tooth you want to correct. If you are careful with your veneer, it can last for 10-30 years until you need to replace it.
Gum recontouring (tissue sculpting or gum reshaping) is a procedure that can repair gums that rest too low or high on your teeth. It can also fix an uneven gum line.
The exact gum contouring procedure will depend on your dentist because they may use radiosurgery, lasers, and scalpels. Lasers tend to be the more popular option because there is less bleeding. Scalpels are a more “traditional” way of gum reshaping but do not produce as even a “cut” as lasers.
Enhance Your Lips
A simple way to achieve plumper lips for a better smile is to get lip fillers. Lip fillers can also potentially change your lip shape. For instance, some surgeons can strategically inject fillers into your upper lip to create or improve a Cupid’s bow. Most dermal fillers are made from natural ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, and they last for roughly 6-12 months.
Some patients may find it easier to get their desired results than others. For instance, lip shapes that are “smooth” (smooth curves on the lips’ borders) are easy to fill and make plump.
People may also opt for lip implants if they want a permanent way to make their lips bigger. Typically, a surgeon may use plastic implants to achieve the patient’s desired results.
However, two other methods are also popular for lip implants. The first is tissue grafting, where a surgeon uses a skin implant from the lower stomach area. The second is fat grafting, where a surgeon transfers fat from the abdomen into the lip.
Surgery for Lip Shape
Other than lip implants, some surgeries could also change your lip shape. For instance, lip reduction surgery can help you get a smaller lip shape if you want to make your upper, lower, or both lips thinner.
Another example is a study that looks into surgically creating a Cupid’s bow using W-plasty for patients who got cleft lip surgery (Takeshita et al., 2003). The study notes that W-plasty leads to satisfactory results compared to Onizuka’s and Gillies’s methods.
Mouth Cornering Lift Surgery
A popular surgery in Asian countries like South Korea to achieve an attractive smile is mouth cornering lift surgery.
Some people get this surgery to correct downturned lips that come from age or lips naturally shaped that way. Additionally, it lets your resting lips leave a “happy and kind” impression on others.
A surgeon removes a small triangular wedge at each upper corner of the lips. The surgeon will then use sutures to shut the cuts and keep the new shape in place, resulting in a more youthful and happy look.
One study shows that most patients who got this surgery were satisfied with their results, and most complaints post-surgery (swelling, bruising, etc.) faded after 1-2 weeks (Jeong et al., 2020). However, some patients did note asymmetry, hypertrophic scar, under-correction, or persistent swelling.
Focus on Your Smiling Technique
Besides enhancing your smile through procedures, it would help if you also focused on how you smile. While confidence and genuinely smiling do matter, you can also use actual techniques to work on your smile.
While it may sound strange, you may want to practice smiling in front of a mirror for a few weeks. Try to focus on smiling head-on to the mirror to work on how you smile directly at people.
You can also take it up a notch and practice how you smile in photos. Try to take photos of yourself from different angles to see how you can smile to look better in photos.
You could also experiment with a few gestures. For instance, a slight head tilt when you smile can make you look genuine and kind. However, there needs to be an emphasis on the word “slight” – it is very easy to overdo, so do not force it too much.
Do Not Forget Your Eyes
We all know that smiling relies heavily on your mouth, but also your eyes as well. Your eyes can make or break your smile. Think about typical villain-like characters or movie psychopaths like the Joker or Jack Torrence from The Shining. They often have a bright, wide smile, but their eyes give a completely different impression.
Firstly, you may need to adjust your eyes to help people know you have a genuine smile. Keeping your eyes wide open while you smile can put people off.
Instead, try to squint or crinkle your eyes a bit whenever you smile. Typically, it naturally happens when you genuinely smile or laugh, so you should let your eyes relax and crinkle whenever you smile. If you happen to open your eyes while you smile or laugh, that is fine as well. However, you may want to give your eyebrows a slight raise to help create the appearance of a natural expression.
Practicing a Duchenne Smile, also popularly known as a “smize,” is another technique you should practice. Smizing works great on both men and women, and it is considered an attractive way to smile. Typically, a Duchenne smile is often a toothless smile, but you can add it to your regular smile.
The Duchenne smile could also benefit you, not just others. One study looks at how the Duchenne smile impacts young people who feel socially ostracized (Svetieva et al., 2019). They showed that the participants could regulate their emotional experience during difficult encounters.
Another study looked at how smiles (including the Duchenne smile) changed the body’s stress response (Kraft et al., 2012). The study proved that maintaining a positive facial expression during stress could have psychological and physiological benefits.
The participants had to do two stressful tasks, and certain groups had to have a smile during the whole experiment. The researchers found that the people who had to smile had the lowest heart rates during stress recovery, and people who had the Duchenne smile had the calmest hearts.
Nailing a Duchenne smile/smize is not easy; it tends to come on very naturally, but you can work on “faking” one. Most people recommend thinking of a funny joke or joyful situation to make your eyes “light up” and crease naturally. Try to do this in front of the mirror and once you got it, try to remember what muscles are being engaged.
Formal and Friendly Smile
Other than the Duchenne smile, you may also want to focus on your friendly and formal smile. Different smiles work for different situations. The Duchenne smile works well for flirting and pictures, but a friendly smile for strangers and acquaintances, along with a formal smile for work, will be crucial to learn.
For your formal smile, you should try to keep your teeth close together. You can either keep your lips shut or show a lot of teeth; this is mostly a matter of preference. If you want to show teeth, you can keep your tongue behind your upper front teeth to make gaps less noticeable and make your bottom lip look fuller.
As for your friendly smile, you want to keep it at a small, subtle smile, perfect for meeting new people. Keeping the center of your mouth as steady as possible with your lips shut, curve the outer corners of your lips up. How far and wide you want to stretch the outer corner of your lips depends on you, but you may want to stick to the “less is more” rule.