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Dentists Take Dimmer View of Patients' Smiles
Date:12/17/2007

they had crooked teeth and/or receding gums.

No photographs or mirrors were provided, as patients were asked to grade themselves from memory.

In addition, all the men and women also ranked various facial features according to how important they believed they were to overall attractiveness. Features included hair and hairline, eyes and eyebrows, nose, skin, ears, lips, teeth, chin and the shape of the head.

Digital photos were then taken of the smiles of the first 40 patients, and both the attending dentist and Fardal independently arrived at aesthetic scores based on assessments of tooth shade, spacing, crowding, inflamed tissue and overall appearance.

At no time had Fardal been involved in the dental care of any of the patients.

The authors found that on a scale of 100, average patient satisfaction with the state of their smile came to just over 59 -- a figure that rose significantly among patients under the age of 50.

By contrast, the two dentists' assessments taken together registered at about 40 on the scale.

Specifically, patients were most satisfied with the state of their soft tissue (gingiva) when they smiled. They were least satisfied with the color of their teeth, which they generally described as being too dark.

Skin condition followed teeth and eyes as the most important features contributing to a person's facial attractiveness. Female patients said that teeth and hair were more important to them than did the men, while the men said head shape was more critical.

Fardal and Jernung suggested that dentists should remember that their opinion of the aesthetics of a patient's smile may not match that of the patient.

"Whether the 'perfect smile' exists is a different question," said Fardal. "The smile is made up of the teeth, gums, lips and jaws, and we as dentists use criteria and guidelines attempting to produce the 'perfect smile.' However, how many people a
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