It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However the perception of what constitutes cosmetic perfection can often be delivered as matter of fact – as if there are optimum angles, shapes and sizes that elements of the human anatomy should adhere to.
The Science Behind The Perfect Smile
What are these theories based on and is there genuine scientific reasoning behind the perception of cosmetic beauty? These principles are applied quite frequently in the field of cosmetic dentistry, where consultants will often offer advice based on certain rules that are believed to contribute to the design of ‘the perfect smile’.
Jill Haldane of the Harley Street Smile Clinic in London has seen thousands of smiles transformed through cosmetic dentistry and is well placed to discuss the theory behind what constitutes the perfect set of teeth for each individual.
“We have always used a seven step approach to designing the perfect smile for each individual. Clearly there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to smile design, but these seven principles – when combined with various metrics and preferences – allow us to construct what we believe to be as close to the perfect smile as each client could wish for.”
A Symmetrical Smile
“At the heart of every smile design is symmetry, or at the very least the illusion of symmetry. We believe that around the centre line of the face, relative symmetry is aesthetically pleasing so we look to replicate this in our smile design plans. Veneers are generally designed to match on either side, giving a clean and orthodox look.
“As well as vertical symmetry, there is a certain level of horizontal symmetry that can be achieved through the redesigning of a smile. The middle incisors should ideally be on the horizontal or in-sync with the individual’s eye line if that is slightly off-centre.
“So much of smile design is about dimensions and how they correspond with one another and this is especially true when designing veneers around the mouth in which they will be fitted. The smile line, which is the line that can be drawn at the tips of your upper teeth, should mimic the curve of the lower lip. A flat smile line tends to give a slightly more aged appearance than most clients desire, while increased curvature tends to be seen as quite feminine – which is obviously taken into consideration on a client-by-client basis.
“In addition to having veneers designed and fitted an increasingly popular procedure cosmetic dentistry procedure is gum sculpting and contouring, which can even and reduce the visible gum line. An even gum line that follows the line of the individual’s upper lip further contributes to the overall appearance of symmetry.”
Measurements and Proportions
“While much of the science behind smile design relies on the relationship between the individual’s teeth and their other facial features, there are various other measurements taken into consideration when designing each individual tooth.
“The width of a set of teeth as a whole can go a long way towards determining the aesthetic look of a smile. A perfect smile should be a width that allows people to see the progression of teeth all the way through from the front to the back. An overly wide smile may mean that no molars are on show when an individual smiles broadly. While the width of teeth can’t be altered easily by regular dentistry, veneers or lumineers will mask the teeth; giving the impression of a narrower smile.
“Individual teeth are never viewed in isolation by cosmetic dentists, with the golden ratio being applied in order to ensure the best length: width ratios. The basic principle of this is the golden proportion of 1 to .618 – which has been applied across the studies of beauty, nature, art and more latterly, teeth. Its application to dentistry states that from the centre outwards, the relationship of each tooth to the next should be in proportion – remaining 1 to .618.
“Finally, to give each tooth a softer look and steer clear of the awful ‘piano keys’ look that can be associated with bad veneers, embrasures are worked into the corners of each tooth. These natural V-shaped flares at the tips of the contact areas between two teeth give smiles a more rounded appearance, giving additional definition to each individual tooth.”
Find out more about the smile design rules used by top cosmetic dentists here.
An Exact Science?
There is little doubt that cosmetic dentistry is one of the most calculated and clinical disciplines of cosmetic surgery and in the case of lumineers, is entirely reversible – making it a far less risky proposition for potential clients. While it is possible for dental consultants to make recommendations based on industry-recognised smile design rules, the aesthetic beauty of any individual smile is undoubtedly influenced by the shape and contours of the patient’s face.
So is there such a thing as the perfect smile? Perhaps not, but there probably is such a thing as your perfect smile and if you’re lucky enough you may have it already!
Jill Haldane is Marketing Director at the Harley Street Smile Clinic in London and has more than 15 years of experience in the cosmetic dentistry industry.