How And Why Have Whiter, Brighter Teeth Become So Important?

It's hard to imagine, but true: once upon a time in the U.S., nobody cared about whiter, brighter teeth. Now, white teeth are virtually a national obsession. How did this aspect of dental care change so dramatically over time, and how does much does the color of your teeth really matter?

The marketing campaign that triggered a whole new healthy habit:

Dental hygiene in the U.S. was so bad in the early 1900s that the military had trouble drafting enough men for World War I because they had to reject so many because of their rotting teeth. It all turned around due to a toothpaste advertising campaign started by an innovative adman named Claude Hopkins.

Hopkins discovered that the trick to successful marketing is the same trick that neurologists have discovered leads to the creation of both good and bad habits: a simple cue and a clear reward. After a while, the anticipation of the reward actually creates a craving. In the case of the toothpaste that started a nation on the road to good dental hygiene, the craving was for the tingling sensation that people feel on their gums from the mint in the toothpaste. People associate that feeling with a clean mouth and start to crave the sensation.

The healthy habit that's changed the perceptions of entire nation:

Clean, white teeth give you a healthy looking smile, and there's no doubt that clean teeth are healthier for your mouth. However, clean white teeth can also give you a healthier social life and strengthen your career as well.

As far back as 2007, researchers came to the conclusion that a whiter smile can positively impact how others react to you when you first meet. People in the study who had their teeth whitened were more likely to be offered a job and at a higher rate of pay than those that didn't. They were viewed as more professional, more confident, and more outgoing than their counterparts who hadn't undergone whitening procedures. 

A bright white smile can also make you appear wealthier, more educated, and more attractive to the opposite sex. Research indicates that a white smile can take almost five years off your appearance. Your overall attractiveness goes up by 20%.

The reactions from others aren't really conscious. They're just automatic responses triggered by the healthy look of a white smile. Those findings mean that teeth whitening procedures aren't just sheerly for vanity -- they actually have a significant social and economic benefit as well. 

Somewhere since the early 1900s, discolored teeth not only stopped being the norm, they came to be associated with less educated people, the poor, the aged, and the non-professional. What started as a mere advertising campaign turned out to not only actually benefit people's health, by encouraging good dental hygiene, but developed into a cultural undertone that equates good dental health (evidence by that white smile) with prosperity and attractiveness.

To enjoy the benefits of a whiter, brighter smile, contact a dentist near you to discuss available procedures.