Why Are Americans Obsessed with Straighter, Whiter Teeth?

Why Are Americans Obsessed with Straighter, Whiter Teeth?

If you’ve traveled abroad, you may have heard residents of other countries comment on some American stereotypes. While some are not deserved, one in particular rings true: Americans are obsessed with their teeth. If there’s any doubt, look no further than the perfectly straight, gleaming celebrity smiles beaming from the cover of magazines. Even British comedian Ricky Gervais confesses he’s not quite sure what to think of the U.S. preoccupation with winning smiles, and he freely admits his teeth are neither straight nor white. According to New York Magazine, Americans are willing to sacrifice to achieve the smile of their dreams. About 39 percent are willing to give up desserts if it means a better smile. So why are we obsessed with keeping our pearly whites pearly white? There’s no single answer, but several factors come into play.

Whiter teeth boost self-esteem

Imagine you’re interviewing two candidates for a job in your Clairemont Mesa office. While both of them are equally qualified, one has a bright, straight, white smile, while the other has yellowed and crooked teeth. Which one would you favor? While it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, the bottom line is that first impressions make a big difference. According to studies, those with white, straight teeth are 38 percent more likely to be perceived as smart. The same percentage would turn down a date with someone who had misaligned teeth. In a culture that values youth and success, it’s no wonder that Americans smile upon those who have picture-perfect pearly whites. Those who are self-conscious about their teeth may be unsure of themselves, and this hesitancy causes them to miss out on some wonderful opportunities. A good smile can transform someone from the inside out.

Whitening availability

It’s obvious, but true. If you don’t have easy access to a variety of cosmetic dental procedures, you’re less likely to go to the time and expense of having them done. The tooth whitening industry has dramatically expanded over the past ten years, offering everything from at-home whitening strips to laser treatment. Residents of San Diego have several local teeth whitening resources available.

One thing leads to another

The number of North American teenagers getting braces or other types of orthodontic treatment has nearly doubled---80 percent now see an orthodontist. It makes no sense to spend time and money to put a whiter smile on crooked teeth.

Straighter teeth are healthier

Crooked, uneven, crowded or misaligned teeth can lead to other oral health problems. Crowded teeth make it difficult to brush and floss properly, allowing bacteria and plaque to multiply. In addition to the cosmetic value of an even smile, orthodontic treatment can help prevent:

  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Extensive tooth decay
  • Jaw pain or chewing problems
  • Uneven wear and tear on tooth enamel

We love our coffee

There’s no question: Americans take our cup of Joe very, very seriously. So much so that we’re probably a bit more self-aware of how java stains our teeth. Coffee is one of the many drinks that can stain your teeth. Other ones include wine and tea.

Teeth whitening options

From bleaching strips to whitening pens, there are a wide range of over-the-counter, take home and in-office options for those who want a brighter smile. While the whitening strips you can buy at the corner drug store are certainly less expensive, they are not as effective. They do not produce dramatic results and typically only lighten surface stains. These products use a low-concentration formula that do not prevent the formation of new stains. Dental professionals can provide custom-designed, take-home whitening trays to ensure that every tooth is evenly covered. Laser whitening is another option, but this must be performed in-office and is not as convenient as take-home trays. When it comes to white, straight teeth, we Americans may appear to be a bit over-enthusiastic to some. However, a healthy smile goes a long way to not only improving self-esteem, but improving oral health. Dental Express offers dental care for the entire family, including SmileCorrect, implants, emergency dental care and maintenance services. Our practice features compassionate care coupled with state-of-the-art dentistry at four convenient locations in San Diego: Downtown, Point Loma, Clairemont and Santee. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.


Sources: American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “Responsible Esthetics.” Online. Barford, Vanessa. BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. “American vs. British Teeth.” Online. Lee, Dan. “Metal Mouth.” New York Magazine. Online.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.