You might think that small details in your smile don’t make a difference because no one sits around looking minutely at your teeth. Although it’s true that most people won’t spend a lot of time looking at your teeth, small details still make a difference. The human brain is an amazing machine for perceiving, processing, and judging visual phenomena, and it’s capable of making snap judgments about aesthetics based on small differences in the shape and alignment of teeth, and this shows how cosmetic dentistry must be very detail-oriented to achieve the desired result.
When we talk about tooth shape, we are looking at two things: the overall proportion of the tooth and the shape of the top of the tooth called the incisal edge.
For the overall proportion, people prefer teeth that are significantly taller than they are wide. This is a sign of a youthful smile because unworn teeth tend to be longer than worn teeth. The difference is typically only about a millimeter, a little less than 10% of the overall height of the tooth for central incisors, perhaps a little more than 10% for other teeth. But that small difference is enough for the eye to pick up.
When it comes to the shape of the incisal edge, people prefer, again, teeth that haven’t been worn down, but the exact shape may matter less, depending on who you are. Women’s smiles are considered equally attractive with rounded incisal edges, square incisal edges, or something in between. Men’s smiles, on the other hand, are considered more attractive with square-round edges, not too square and not too round.
When it comes to straight teeth, it takes about 10° of difference between the alignment of teeth to be considered unattractive. Gaps in teeth, called diastemas, are significant as soon as they are visible, and in general they are considered less attractive the larger they get. These make the most impact when they’re between your central incisors.
It should be noted, though, that some people find gaps in the teeth to be attractive.
When you understand the impact that small differences can make on the aesthetic perception of your teeth, you will realize that your choice of a cosmetic dentist can make a huge difference in the results you get. Working with a cosmetic dentist who takes great care to pay attention to detail will yield much better results.