Several years ago, a counseling office in Salt Lake City was painstakingly struggling to find a good candidate to fill the position at their front desk. They hired a great, strongly lauded staffing agency to send them candidates for interviewing, but each one of them was rejected for one reason or another. Finally, the agency had narrowed down the search to exactly what the counseling office was looking for and they introduced them to Shelly, a 35-year-old mother of three who seemed more than perfect for the job.
What if I told you that the people who interviewed her and who had met her in the office loved her? They were genuinely excited to work with her. You’d think the job was hers, right? Not quite; she was rejected.
Later, during a staff meeting with the office manager, one of the employees who had liked Shelly asked her boss why he hadn’t hired her. “It wasn’t the image we wanted to project at our clinic,” he said, pointing out that Shelly had bucked and crooked teeth.
It makes me sad to even tell this story. And to think that Shelly was as qualified as she was, the office manager’s decision to not hire her seems precipitous, to say the least. While I’m sure (at least, I hope!) that the manager had the tact to give her another reason for his choice, the insecurity and uncertainty that Shelly must have felt is truly heart wrenching. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there, and we know how it feels.
Here’s the thing, though. Impressions and how our smile shapes the way people see us is real. People develop beliefs around you based on your appearance.
According to an old study by Kelton Research, 40 percent — very near to half — of respondents said that they would not date someone with crooked teeth. I’m curious as to how many of them follow this rule of thumb, since there’s so much more to love than teeth, but it’s an interesting statistic that tells us just how important our smile can be in sending the right message to the people we meet and care about.
Your teeth talk. They say things about your health, how well you take care of yourself, and people stretch their beliefs from there. An Israeli study found that people with crooked teeth were considered by respondents, on average, to be less trustworthy and less wealthy. Whether these things are actually true doesn’t matter — whether you realize it or not, your teeth are talking about you. Shouldn’t you be in control of exactly what they’re saying?
This isn’t about having a “movie star” smile. You don’t need it to be “picture perfect.” It’s about feeling satisfied knowing that your teeth, their health, and their appearance are all aligned with you and who you are.
When you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, maybe you’re combing your hair or washing your face, and you give yourself that great, big grin, do you feel confident? Do you look at your teeth and feel happy? And if you feel confident and happy, does your smile reflect that?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, what’s stopping you from pursuing the smile that fits right with your values, who you are, and your beliefs? How many of these are excuses? Because the truth is, dental health is accessible — we dentists endeavor to make it as accessible as possible —, and there should be nothing that holds you back from getting that beautiful rush of courage and euphoria when you smile at yourself in the mirror.
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A