The reasons why straight teeth are important vary wildly. Of course, as your orthodontists, our primary concern is accomplishing healthy changes for your teeth. But human beings have a centuries-long preoccupation with the appearance of their smiles – and tooth alignment is a crucial factor.
How do you feel when you encounter straight teeth vs. crooked teeth? Of course, your first impression of someone’s smile usually isn’t a fully articulated one – first impressions take countless feelings and instincts into account, and we often form snap judgements before learning more. But those impressions have a big impact on how you view and treat those around you. And if the smile wasn’t up to common standards, you’re going to view that person in a less positive light.
Learning more about the history of America’s’ obsessions with “perfect” teeth helps us understand how we got to this place.
Why We Idolize Straight Teeth
There are many different contexts that have led to North Americans valuing straight, white teeth. These range from historical to sociological to cultural. Teeth have represented positive attributes throughout human history. Some common meanings attached to teeth as symbols include youth, health, and beauty. Archeologists have found many different types of evidence that dental modifications / cosmetic dental work existed going back centuries – long before humans really knew what they were doing to their teeth. There have been cultural and social advantages to having appealing teeth nearly since the beginning of recorded human history.
But how does that translate to more modern sentiments? America has a unique obsession with perfect smiles. The “Hollywood smile” is the true culprit. This straight, white grin actually originated as a concept during the Great Depression. This period was the first when cinematic films were being regularly released. The American public encountered the moviegoing experience and started getting to know specific actors by face.
As the filmmaking industry exploded, Dr. Charles Pincus, DDS opened up a movie studio-specific practice on Hollywood and Vine. He worked with actors ranging from James Dean to Judy Garland to Shirley Temple. Suddenly, there was a way for movie stars to attain smiles that matched their perfect faces. Dr. Pincus crafted veneers that transformed all the big names’ teeth. Instead of having gaps in her smile after losing baby teeth, Shirley Temple wore snap-on veneers to build out her grin – and no one was the wiser (other than her dentist).
Making Perfect Smiles More Attainable
It’s been the norm since Hollywood took hold of the American consciousness – when the movie stars do something, we want the same. These cosmetic dentistry patients showing up on the silver screen showed other American what they could have. As the years have passed since the 1930’s, more and more of us have worked on our teeth. Beautiful smiles have become associated even more significantly with financial success, professionalism and status.
With today’s range of dental, cosmetic and orthodontic procedures, straight teeth are simpler than ever to attain. And with all that we assume about one another based on our smiles, they’re more than worth it.
No matter your reason for learning more about orthodontic treatment, there are benefits than will emerge from straightening your smile. From improved oral health to heightened confidence to reduced jaw pain and a more comfortable bite, our patients have improved their lives through braces. If you’re interested in attaining a perfect smile for yourself, just get in touch to schedule a free consultation.