13 May 2019

Show off your smile with confidence” – that is the message from the Oral Health Foundation as a new nationwide poll finds most of us regularly feel self-conscious about the appearance of our teeth.

The call comes as new research by the charity shows that more than half of British adults (51%) are often made to feel anxious about how their smile looks.1

The investigation discovered that television and social media are the biggest culprits.  These platforms are causing almost one in three (31%) of us to feel inadequate about our smile.

Further results show nearly one in five (17%) have received negative comments from family members about how their smile looks.  Other influences include comments from partners (14%), friends (13%), and colleagues (9%).

One in ten (10%) of us have been subjected to unkind remarks about our teeth from strangers.

Today is the start of National Smile Month – a charity campaign which is aiming to get Britain smiling while promoting the benefits of a healthy mouth.  Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, says our smile is too important to remain hidden.

Dr Carter says: “It often gets overlooked but having the confidence to smile plays such an important role in our everyday life.  A smile communicates a sign of friendship, trust and acceptability.  It also has a significant impact on our relationships, careers and social life. Sadly, too many of us hide our smile because we feel uncomfortable with its appearance.

“In the media and online, pearly white and straight teeth have become the norm for how our teeth need to look.  This should not be the case.  Most celebrities we see on television undergo routine cosmetic treatments on their smile, while filters on social media can make teeth appear whiter than they actually are.

“It all promotes unrealistic expectations of what a healthy smile looks like and it is clearly having a negative effect on how confident we are when it comes to showing ours off.  A smile represents feelings of happiness and joy.  This is something to be cherished, and not be made to feel anxious about.”

The research shows younger people are more likely to feel worried about the appearance of their teeth.

The study shows that nearly two-thirds (87%) of those under-35 have been made to feel self-conscious about their smile.  This age group is also more the twice as likely to be influenced by celebrities and television personalities.

Further findings from the Oral Health Foundation reveal that less than a third (29%) of British adults are likely to pose for a photograph with an open-mouth smile.  Findings show that discoloured teeth are the biggest reason we are not smiling for the camera (33%).

“Owning a beautiful smile is about more than aesthetics,” adds Dr Carter.

“Having a clean mouth, strong teeth and healthy gums are so much more important than the colour or shape of our teeth. During National Smile Month we are working with Philips to promote #habits4life. The campaign is focusing on adopting three simple habits of twice-daily toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste, reducing our sugar intake and keeping to regular dental visits.

“By adopting a few simple oral health habits, we can transform the health of our mouth and significantly improve our quality of life.  It will also give us the reassurance we need to make sure we show off our smile with confidence.”

National Smile Month will also see thousands of dedicated oral health events being held across the UK. It’s also being supported by some of the world’s most well-known household brands, including GSK, Oral-B and Wrigley.

For more information about National Smile Month and how to achieve a healthy smile, check out our National Smile Month page.