Social Currency: Your Smile


Often, when we first meet someone, our biggest social currency is our smile. Surprisingly enough, researchers estimate that over a third of us don’t like our smiles. But are orthodontics necessary?

It depends on who you ask. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) asserts all children should be seen at least once by an orthodontist around the age of seven. But many patients rely on their regular dentist to tell them if or when their child should see an orthodontist.

Why we are obsessed with teeth

Cosmetic dentistry, once the go-to for only the very wealthy, has now reached the stage where it has become affordable for almost everyone. With the advent of over-the-counter whiteners and Invisalign, beautiful teeth are now within our grasp.

How important is it? Almost half of those polled in a recent study said they wouldn’t go on a second date with a person who had crooked teeth. 

One of the biggest indicators of an American abroad is their proclivity for offering a big, toothy smile. It’s something we’ve learned from visual media since over half of us will delete our photos from social sites because we didn’t like our smile in the picture.



Dr. Ben Burris, the owner of the biggest privately-owner orthodontic practice in the world, explains that his practice exploded when he realized that most patients don’t mind paying for orthodontics if they don’t have to put down a huge downpayment and if they believe they can afford the monthly payment. He now has over a dozen people in his office who do nothing but handle financing arrangements many of which are 5-year, interest-free loans. He likened it to the cost of a new car, which is largely decided upon based on the payment, rather than the bottom line.

Since a significant number of people put off even regular dental care due to fears of cost, Dr. Burris’ theory makes a lot of sense.

How important is your smile?


One DePauw study, which tracked the smiles of participants from childhood to adulthood suggested that those who smiled more were more likely to be happier and remain married. Their non-smiling counterparts were more likely to divorce.

But beyond marital relationships, research has shown that people are more willing to trust and back a person with a great smile, but only if that smile includes the corners of their eyes.

Regarding confidence, often a person’s opinion is altered by a simple comment, as was the case for Dawn D., who recently confided that she never really liked her smile until she  visited a new dentist, who said, “You have a great smile!”

“That single comment from a professional gave me a lot of confidence,” she said. Whereas she previously believed orthodontics or veneers were something she’d consider, after the remark, she realized she just needed a frame of reference.

On that same note, Jo F., a middle-aged woman with a pleasant face, was able to regain her cheery smile only after having a chipped front tooth repaired. “It made such a difference!” she said her eyes sparkling. “I feel so much more attractive.”

And, while we don’t pretend to be experts, it could be argued that feeling attractive is the other social currency. 

If you need a consultation regarding your smile or teeth from a gentle, caring dental team in Phoenix, please call our office at (623) 362-2550. We’ll give you the very best dental care we can!

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