A1 Journal article – refereed

The impact of tooth colour on the perceptions of age and social judgements.

List of Authors: Newton J.T., Subramanian S.S., Westland S., Gupta A.K., Luo W., Joiner A.

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2021

Journal: Journal of Dentistry

Journal name in source: Journal of Dentistry

Volume number: 112

ISSN: 0300-5712

eISSN: 1879-176X

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jdent.2021.103771

URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdent.2021.103771


Psychological research has established that the presence of dental anomalies negatively impact social judgements. This study sought to determine the effects of tooth colour on the subjective ratings of social judgements in a group of Caucasian adults.
A cross sectional experimental analogue design comprised fifty Caucasian adults: 25 women and 25 men. A total of 54 digitally modified photographs of Caucasian males and females (darkened, natural, whitened teeth) were evaluated. All participants evaluated each of the images on 12 characteristics: popularity, friendliness, social life, success, graduation, happiness, intelligence, perceived age, introversion/extraversion, self-confidence, attractiveness and satisfaction with the tooth shade. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare ratings.
Participants associated darkened teeth with poorer subjective ratings, with the highest ratings been given to whitened teeth, and natural teeth being intermediate. These trends were similar across all participant age groups and gender. Further, the gender and age groups of the images had a significant effect on the appraisals. Faces of younger models received higher ratings than the faces of older models and female images were rated higher than the males.
In the absence of other information, tooth colour exerts an influence upon the appraisals made in social situations. It appears that whitened tooth appearance is preferred to natural tooth appearance, irrespective of age and gender of the judge. The faces with more whitened dentition are perceived to be younger across all age groups and gender of the judges. Participants dissatisfied with their own tooth shade drew out more stereotypic behaviour.
Clinical significance statement
This research used standardised tooth colour as a basis to investigate perceived age and social functioning. As clinicians face daily challenges to achieve patient satisfaction with respect to dental aesthetics, standardizing the colour may enhance the patients’ satisfaction. Further, participants dissatisfied with their own tooth shade drew out more stereotypic behaviour. The whitened dentition may impair the psychological well-being of the individuals and is probably a reason for the increasing demand for cosmetic dental procedures. These results may be instructive for the development of a psycho-educational intervention to prevent any unrealistic expectations.

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Last updated on 2021-13-09 at 18:09