Men are from Mars and women are from Venus – that’s the saying we often utter to mark out the differences between the two sexes. For centuries, scientists and scholars have tried to offer some answers to this mystifying enigma and while many theories have been pondered, few certainties are actually known. The rules of attraction between men and women change on a daily basis, making the question “what is the opposite sex attracted to” testing to say the least. Now it seems this preoccupation has gone dental.
For National Smile Month, we have conducted research to finally prove that a smile is the most important physical attribute when it comes to attraction, second only to personality. The findings are remarkable when we consider that the nation seems fairly ambivalent to its oral health.
Indeed, the survey revealed that only 23% believed that the nation had ‘good teeth’ and approaching half the population were not happy with their smile or teeth.
Interestingly, it is the contrasting results of men and women which re-opens the debate about why men and women are so different. The phrase men are from Mars, women are from Venus has never been so true.
The clear winner of the survey was personality, with 90% of respondents rating this human attribute highly when it comes to attraction. A smile came second (56%), closely followed by the face (53%) and eyes (51%). Dress sense, body shape, hair and height were also measured, with the latter bringing up the rear on 25%.
Chief Executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes even a small gesture like a smile can have a big difference when it comes to your confidence.
Dr Carter said: “A simple smile can make others feel at ease around you and can be a powerful show of emotion, yet not everyone has the confidence to do so. They say we can all hide behind a smile if you are not happy or are self-conscious about your teeth, and the results of the survey show even though many of us aren’t happy with our teeth and do avoid smiling because of their appearance, we’re still attracted to the opposite sex by a simple smile.
“The symbol behind this year’s National Smile Month – the Smiley – lends itself perfectly to those people who want to get their own smile factor and portray real confidence through a smile.”
Communication is a central aspect of everyday life, a fact that is reflected in the wide variety of ways that people exchange information, not only with words, but also using their face and body. A facial expression and body language can state a lot about a person’s desires, and are an important channel of nonverbal communication. Many animal species display facial expressions, including primates, but are highly developed in humans. The role of facial expressions in person-to-person interactions remains substantial, and the fact 56% of people rank a smile highly only reflects this belief. Messages of the face, particularly a smile, provides commentary and illustration about verbal communications, none more so than when it comes to the opposite sex.
And while good oral health can be an attractive quality, the opposite can be said of poor oral health.
More research we have done has revealed our partner’s biggest smiles crimes, with men named as the guiltiest culprits of bad oral health habits.
Respondents cited ‘food stuck between the teeth’ as their greatest turn-off, claiming 40% of the overall vote.
Bad breath (24%), stained teeth (21%) and not brushing twice a day (16%), made up the remainder of our partner faux pas.
In a battle of the sexes, more than three quarters (76%) pointed the finger firmly towards the men, marking them as the ones with the worst oral health habits.
“It doesn’t matter how expensive your bouquet is or how posh the restaurant is, if you haven’t got clean teeth the chances are your date won’t be impressed. All of these smile crimes are an instant turn-off, but they continue to affect many of us on a regular basis,” Dr Carter added.
So there we go! A simple smile really can be the most powerful aphrodisiac.