More than half (58%) of the British adults responding to a survey by the Oral Health Foundation (OHF) and Align Technology said they have changed the way they see their smile as a result of online video calls, with 33% now more aware of the color of their teeth and 24% more conscious about the alignment of their teeth.
The new research, released as part of National Smile Month, also showed that 11% of adults in the United Kingdom feel self-conscious seeing their smile during an online meeting or video call.
Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, chief executive of the OHF, believes that the growth and increased use of digital technologies has led to an increased exposure of the smile.
“Physical interactions have been limited over the last 12 months, and for many, have been replaced with gatherings online. This technology has been an invaluable tool, whether it be facilitating business meetings or allowing grandparents to see their newborn grandchildren for the first time,” Carter said. “It has also led to us seeing our own face, and smile, far more than we are used to.”
The smile is one of the most important assets we have and is how we communicate our thoughts and feelings toward one another, the OHF said. Because of its prominence and importance, the OHF continued, the smile also can be a great source of concern for some people.
“The color and shape of our teeth are the first things we tend to notice, and feeling self-conscious is quite normal. What we must remember, however, is that the most important part of the smile is its health,” said Carter.
A healthy mouth can be achieved through an effective oral health routine at home as well as regular dental visits, the OHF said. The key components of an effective oral health routine are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, cleaning in between the teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss and cutting down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks, the OHF added.
Maintaining a healthy smile is at the heart of the OHF’s National Smile Month charity campaign, the organization said. Scheduled for May 17 through June 17, the event is an opportunity for everyone to gain more confidence about their smile by learning the basics behind having good oral health, the OHF said.
The survey also revealed how the pandemic has affected the development of new social connections, the OHF said. For example, 58% said smiling is important in developing friendships and relationships and believe that covering the smile with a facemask has had a detrimental effect on forming connections.
Also, 62% of female respondents said they have been struggling to form connections with others following the introduction of facemasks.
National Smile Month provides many people with a chance to reflect on their smile and take practical steps toward a healthier and happier future, said Dan Parsons, marketing director of the United Kingdom and Ireland (UKI) at Align Technology.
“As the UKI starts to gradually ease restrictions and come out of the pandemic, many of us are finding more reasons to smile again. We are proud to partner with National Smile Month, supporting the efforts of consumers for a healthy, beautiful smile,” Parsons said.
“Most people don’t realize that straighter teeth is not just about good aesthetics. They also contribute to better overall hygiene, gum health, potentially less tooth wear, and overall longer and sustained good health,” he said.
“Our research data shows that many respondents are still hiding their smiles. If that includes you, then please take National Smile Month as your chance to change that,” Parsons said.
“By taking practical steps to better oral health, including proper cleaning and flossing, regular dental checkups, or teeth straightening, if your teeth are crooked, you can enjoy the positive and connection-forming benefits that come with a healthy and happy smile,” he said.