What are the Components of an Ideal Smile?

Like it or not, others judge us on our looks and our smile is an enormous part of how we look.

We all use a person’s smile as non-verbal communication cues when we first meet. It takes just a tenth of a second for a stranger to read your smile and make an assumption of your trustworthiness. So how should your best smile look?

Many people think an ideal smile is all about the teeth. But teeth are only part of the package of the perfect smile. It takes healthy, good looking teeth, gums, lips, and their relationship to the rest of the face.

What Makes an Ideal Smile?

No two people have the same mouths so there is no one smile that everyone can aspire to. But there are mathematical equations and psychological research on smiles that specialist dentists use to achieve the best smile possible for their patients. Cosmetic dentistry is about working with all parts of the facial package to gain the best outcome. 


While gums are an important part of your mouth health, we don’t want to see too much gum when we smile. Just a few millimetres of light pink gum (not red) is ideal so you don’t have a ‘gummy smile’. You also want to avoid uneven gum contours, inflammation, and any exposed root surfaces.


The most obvious aspect is to have straight, not crooked teeth. Each tooth should sit upright and not tip inwards or outwards. There should be no crowding, no gaps or overlapping.  

The edge of your teeth should be in line and not higher or lower than the surrounding teeth. Orthodontic and prosthodontic treatment move teeth up or down in the gum to achieve the straight edge. The length of the central teeth should be one-sixteenth of the height of the face.

Teeth should be white but not too white that they look unnaturally bleached. The colour of your teeth should complement your hair, skin and eye colour. Use the white of your eye as a guide for the whiteness of your teeth. 

Buccal Corridor

The buccal corridor is the dark space you can see between the corners of the mouth and upper teeth. Those people with smaller corridors (a broader smile) are thought to have the most attractive smiles.


Your lips work like an attractive frame around your picture perfect teeth and gums. A little like gums, you want to see your lips when you smile but not too much. In an ideal smile, the upper front teeth should fill 75-100% of the space between your upper and lower lips.

Face Shape

The facial midline (an imaginary vertical line) should run through the middle of the front two teeth. When the front teeth are a little to the left or right, the smile isn’t symmetrical.

Smile Line

Ideally, the edges of the upper teeth should be parallel to the lower lip when smiling. The bottom of the lower lip should follow the same line as the lower jaw gums.

Research into Smiling

With smiling being such an important part of our non-verbal communication, researchers have conducted studies on the science of smiling.

The Way You Smile Matters

It’s not just the physical components of your smile. There’s also the way you smile that matters.

Research was conducted on computer-animated 3D faces to find the most successful smile. The study used 802 people to examine a range of 3D computer animated facial models with varying mouth angles, symmetry and extent of the smile showing their teeth.

Participants rated smiles on effectiveness, genuineness, pleasantness and perceived emotional intent. The researchers found the most successful smiles were those where both sides of the face were synced to within 125 milliseconds and the smile symmetrical.

The research also suggested those people who have a small smile that doesn’t turn up at the corners shouldn’t show their teeth when smiling. A tight-lipped smile can seem more genuine and friendly to a stranger.  

Smile for Happiness

When a person likes their smile, they’re more likely to show it off. And smiling more leads to feeling happy.

Smiling gives us the same feelings of happiness that exercise does because it stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms, endorphins.

Smiling may even help us live longer. A US analysis of baseball cards printed in 1952 found that players who didn’t smile in their photo lived to an average of 72.9 years while those photographed with a beaming smile lived to 79.9 years. A longer, happier life is certainly a wonderful reason to smile!  

Considering Cosmetic Dentistry?

If you want to improve the look of your smile and your dentist has recommended cosmetic dentistry, speak to one of our specialists before you proceed. For the time and expense involved in complex treatment, it’s worth getting a second opinion.

To make a no-obligation appointment, contact us online or call the surgery on (08) 9321 1632.