Dr Chris McConnell: Through the looking glass
Dr Chris McConnell is a private dentist based in Cornwall with a special interest in advanced dental treatments including implants, sedation, cosmetic and digital dentistry. Chris is President of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD). Here he explores the importance of healthy looking teeth.
Despite the influences of contrived social media content, celebrity culture and clever brand marketing, there is a rising trend for people seeking natural, non-invasive treatments that quietly enhance their natural features.
It’s near-impossible to avoid forming an opinion about someone based on their appearance. Gibson’s theory of object perception suggests that perception is evolutionary and was necessary for the survival of our ancestors – the face of a young child may draw a gentle and protective approach, whereas an angry face may make us on-edge and defensive.
On the other hand, the emphasis on looks certainly has its drawbacks. Known as “attractive bias”, or “lookism”, this is the phenomenon whereby those who are attractive are perceived more positively than those who are not. This may link to the theory that the survival of our ancestors’ children depended on the type of mate they chose, and that females chose partners with the best genes for healthy offspring.
Our teeth are important for everyday functions, from speaking to chewing. But the teeth also play a role in attractiveness perception. Because our teeth bear the brunt of environmental and traumatic events, aging and disease, they provide us with information about the individual person.
Researchers digitally manipulated tooth spacing and colour on images of people smiling, and found that this influenced the ratings of attractiveness. Celebrity culture and social media, have created our perception that straighter, whiter teeth equal not just enhanced attractiveness, but also better health.
And yet many people are now embracing their imperfections. Indeed, in Japan, yaeba, or “double-tooth”, was a trend that saw women embracing their overlapping upper canines that gave them a fang-like appearance. Many even underwent dental procedures to achieve the look, as it was believed that it enhanced the person’s attractiveness.
In the UK, models such as Kate Moss helped us accept the unique quirks of our individual smiles. No-one should have to change (or not change) their appearance to suit other people’s ideals of beauty. Many cosmetic treatments, dubbed “tweakments”, allow individuals to undergo non-invasive procedures to make small, barely-there changes that enhance their natural appearance and help improve their confidence.
Of course, some patients still want blindingly-bright, celebrity-straight teeth, but there is now much more choice for patients seeking a more natural change, and members of the BACD are dedicated to changing patients’ lives with exceptional, and above all, ethical cosmetic dentistry.
We have access to outstanding training pathways and educational resources, helping our members to nurture and grow their skills and confidence. There are plenty of networking opportunities, too, including the BACD Annual Conference, where members can socialise, learn and share ideas. They remain on the cutting-edge of their field and better satisfy the demands of their patients.
We’ve all seen dental trends rise and fall over the years, including the current shift in focus from obvious changes to more discreet, natural ones. By keeping abreast of these changes in the field, you’ll be better able to provide first-class care and deliver a smile that can transform your patients’ confidence.
To discover more, visit www.bacd.com