What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you’re out on the town? What’s the thing that most attracts you to that person who may become the love of your life?
Is it their eyes or their hair? Their cool car or stylish clothes?
No. According to research, the first thing we zone in on in a potential partner is their teeth.
We take a look at the stats.
Of course, other things are important things too. Having a great personality, kindness and generosity of spirit matter, but these usually come into play further down the line. Historically and in more contemporary times, the all-important first attraction between two possible partners often starts with their teeth.
Incredible? Maybe, but a well-respected internet dating site ran a survey of 5,500 randomly selected single people a few years ago, asking what attracted them most to potential dates, and their findings were startling:
- Almost two thirds (60%) of the men surveyed said that they felt that good teeth are the most important factor in the attractiveness of a possible date.
- Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the women interviewed said they ranked the state of a man’s teeth as the first consideration in deciding whether or not to date them.
These are huge percentages of people who make good teeth their first tick box, but it’s not quite as superficial as it looks. Those surveyed added that they thought well-cared-for teeth were a good indicator of overall levels of personal hygiene – definitely an important consideration in a potential mate.
Straight or Crooked?
A study with a slightly more in-depth look at how the alignment of teeth can affect the first stages of dating was conducted at around the same time. Some 1,047 Americans over the age of 18 were asked to look at three pictures of people with either straight or crooked teeth, which were randomly selected from a bank of 16 similar images. The results were pretty amazing:
- 29% of those surveyed said that good teeth were the first thing they noticed about someone. Pearly white teeth apparently also make more of a lasting first impression than any other facial feature, with 25% of people saying that it’s the thing they remember the longest
- Straight teeth were thought to be 57% more likely to attract a mate than crooked teeth
- To 57% of those interviewed, a nice smile with good teeth was worth more in the date-selection process than having a clear skin
- An incredible 38% – more than a third of those surveyed – said they would seriously consider not going on a second date with someone who had crooked teeth
Some other opinions given on the study take this assessment a stage further still:
- Almost three-quarters of those surveyed (73%) said they would be more likely to trust someone with good teeth and a nice smile than if they had nice clothes, a good job or a great car but poor teeth
- Survey participants said that they thought 45% of people with straight teeth would be more likely to get a job at interview; 58% would be more likely to be successful in their life and 58% were more likely to become wealthy
- They also said that they saw those with straight teeth as being 21% more likely to be happy, 47% more healthy and 38% more intelligent
There’s a lot riding on those teeth!
It’s true, though, that having nice teeth can make you feel more confident, which can be a powerful turn-on. Having poor teeth makes you self-conscious, stops you flashing a natural wide smile and prevents your personality shining through, which can all add up to you being less attractive at first glance.
A full-on friendly smile can generate instant chemistry, even across a crowded room. Your teeth get naturally yellower and darker as you age, so a man looking for a partner to set up home and have children with could take this as an indication of age and fertility, or the lack of it.
Having said all that, the odd tiny flaw or chip in a tooth can be endearingly individual and maybe even enhance rather than detract from your dating chances. The English actor, Martin Shaw, has been something of a heart-throb since his first acting role and has never had his chipped front tooth fixed.
Generally, however, it’s pretty obvious that bad teeth can seriously hamper your love life. Considering that until relatively recently, people rarely brushed their teeth, it is maybe surprising that the we’re still here at all!
Historically and Culturally Important Teeth
Historically, teeth have played greater or lesser roles in the lives and loves of the famous and infamous.
George Washington was widely known to have terrible problems with his teeth. When he became US president in 1789, he had just a single tooth in his head. Over the remainder of his life he had several sets of dentures made from – prepare to grit your teeth! – lead, human teeth, cows’ teeth and hippopotamus bone.
Infamous womanizer Casanova had no teeth at all in his later years, but that didn’t stop him, at the age of 73, having an affair with a 22-year-old countess.
Culturally, teeth can make or break a relationship and not always in the ways you might think:
- Until recently, the Yaya Gelao people in southwest China traditionally required an engaged girl to break off one or two of her own front teeth to indicate that she was not available to other men
- In preparation for their annual ’wife stealing’ courtship festival, the men of the Wodaabe nomad tribe in Nigeria – who consider themselves to be the most beautiful people on the Earth – paint their lips black to make their teeth appear whiter and more attractive
- Youngsters in Bali, Indonesia, have the points of their upper canine teeth filed off during their coming-of-age ceremonies at puberty. This is believed to quell characteristics that could make them less attractive to possible mates. Greed, lust, anger, confusion, stupidity, jealousy, ill-will, and intoxication are all dispensed with in the dispensary!
So, it’s fairly obvious that, in one way or another, teeth play an enormous part in much more than eating and it pays to look after them if you’d like to attract the partner of your dreams.