Perfect Bite, Pretty Face?

The appearance of a person's bite affects how their attractiveness, personality and intelligence is rated by other adults, according to a study.

A study published in the November 2011 edition of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics asked 889 people to evaluate photos that had been manipulated to show either a normal bite or one of six imperfect bites, called occlusion or malocclusion in the dental world.

“The ratings of attractiveness, intelligence, conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion differed significantly depending on the occlusion status depicted,” the report said.

Those with an underbite were rated least attractive, intelligent and extraverted. Females with an imperfect bite were rated more favorably than males. Younger and more educated respondents were more critical in their evaluations than older, less educated respondents.

Drs. Jase A. Olsen, a private practitioner in Southern Pines, N.C., and Marita Rohr Inglehart, associate professor in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry conducted the study.

"Judgments that are negatively influenced by the effects of malocclusion might leave those without a normal occlusion at a social disadvantage and professionally handicapped," the study notes.

The study also quotes earlier research showing that "attractive" people were perceived to be more intelligent and socially competent, to have a more positive personality, to have better social interactions and to receive more favorable professional ratings.

In addition, the study quotes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination III from 1988-91, which showed that 57 percent to 59 percent of adults had some degree of an imperfect bite.

Although that study is two decades old, it still provides the most current prevalence data for malocclusion among U.S. adults.

The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is the official publication of the American Association of Orthodontists.

© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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