Smile esthetics from the layperson's perspective

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2011 Jan;139(1):e91-e101. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2010.06.019.


Introduction: Computer-based smile esthetic surveys based on slider technology allow more precise control of variables and the possibility of obtaining continuous data. Variations in the perception of smiles from different facial perspectives have not been resolved. The objective of this study was to quantify the ideal and the range of acceptable values for smile variables judged by laypersons from a full-face perspective for comparison with lower-face data.

Methods: Mirrored and symmetric male and female full faces previously determined by peers to be of average attractiveness were used. Ninety-six laypersons judged these smile variables: smile arc, buccal corridor fill, maxillary gingival display, maxillary midline to face, maxillary to mandibular midline discrepancy, overbite, central incisor gingival margin discrepancy, maxillary anterior gingival height discrepancy, incisal edge discrepancy, and cant. The judges manipulated the variables using adjustable image technology that allowed the variable to morph and appear continuous on a computer monitor. Medians for each smile variable were compiled, and the Fleiss-Cohen weighted kappa statistic was calculated to measure reliability. Multiple randomization tests with adjusted P values were used to compare these data with those for lower-face views.

Results: Reliability ranged from 0.25 for ideal overbite to 0.60 for upper midline to face, except for upper and lower buccal corridor limits, which each had a kappa value near 0. There were no statistically significant differences between the ratings of male and female raters. The following variables showed statistically and clinically significant differences (>1 mm) when compared with the lower-face view: ideal smile arc, ideal buccal corridor, maximum gingival display, upper to lower midline, and occlusal cant. Although the smile arc values differed because of model lip curvature variations, the principle of tracking the curve of the lower lip was confirmed. For the full-face view, the raters preferred less maximum gingival display, less buccal corridor, more upper to lower midline discrepancy, and less cant of the occlusal plane.

Conclusions: Reliability was fair to moderate with the exception of the buccal corridor limits. Most variables showed no clinically meaningful differences from the lower-face view. The acceptable range was quite large for most variables. Detailed knowledge of the ideal values of the various variables is important and can be incorporated into orthodontic treatment to produce an optimal esthetic smile.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude*
  • Cheek / anatomy & histology
  • Esthetics
  • Esthetics, Dental*
  • Face / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Gingiva / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Incisor / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Mandible / anatomy & histology
  • Maxilla / anatomy & histology
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smiling*
  • Young Adult