There was a time in cosmetic dentistry when we thought all problems could be solved with math. It was thought that if we could just discover the ideal proportion, the right ratio that expressed the beautiful, we would know how to design everyone’s smile makeover.
The problem is that this approach tended to yield less than optimal results. Not surprisingly, a lot of people essentially got the same smile as other people, and while that smile may have looked good on some people, it didn’t look good on others.
There’s no single ideal tooth proportion, no mathematical key to getting the most attractive smile. Here’s why.
Facial Proportions Are Different
This one should have been obvious. People have faces of different sizes and proportions: round faces, oval faces, heart-shaped faces, etc., etc. Trying to make one set of smile proportions for all these different faces inevitably leads to some cosmetic dentistry that doesn’t look like it belongs.
You might say that just because a person’s face doesn’t have ideal proportions, it doesn’t mean that their smile shouldn’t, but the smile doesn’t look attractive on its own: it has to harmonize with the rest of the facial appearance. And if it doesn’t do that, it won’t look attractive, it will look fake.
Smile Shape Is Different
It’s not just the face that varies from person to person, it’s actually the smile itself. People’s lips move in different ways and create different-shaped frames for their teeth.
If a smile makeover doesn’t take the shape of the frame into account, the teeth might seem too crowded or the smile too empty. The smile makeover might even alter the shape of the smile, which can be undesirable if that’s not what you wanted.
Mouths Are Different Sizes
A smile makeover doesn’t have to just look good, it has to feel good, too. And function properly.
Trying to match an abstract mathematical ratio can lead to teeth that are too big. If your new teeth are too big, they can feel very uncomfortable. They might even cause problems when it comes to biting and chewing, and they may contribute to bite problems.
Teeth Change with Age
Another problem with always trying to make the same teeth ratios is that our teeth naturally change proportion as we age. This is often due to wear, but it’s important to keep it in mind in order to make a smile that looks natural.
Although many people want a smile makeover to help them look younger–and it can–the goal is usually a reasonable amount of age reduction. You want a smile that looks your age or a little younger, not so much younger that people automatically assume it’s fake. But that’s often the result of trying to achieve the ideal of a single mathematical tooth proportion.
Not Everyone Agrees
Perhaps the most important reason not to follow a single mathematical tooth proportion is that not everyone agrees it’s attractive. There’s a kind of industry that promotes certain ratios as being beautiful, but many of the studies that support the idea are deeply flawed, and based on selective examples.
The truth is that everyone’s idea of beauty is personal, and even where there may be broad agreement, you’ll find that it’s not mathematically precise.
Customized Cosmetic Dentistry
Thankfully, the fad of mathematically perfect dentistry has largely passed. Nowadays, you can expect that your smile makeover will be customized to you: your facial proportions, age, and, especially, your preferences. You will get the smile makeover you think is ideal, not the one that your dentist calculated for everyone.