When people look at your smile, they make judgments about who you are. Most of these judgments are unfair, but that doesn’t prevent people from making them. But this isn’t a new thing. In the past, people thought your teeth showed specific aspects of your character.

Even though we don’t have the same notion of what teeth symbolize, cosmetic dentistry can still help you avoid some of the snap judgments people make when they see your teeth.

Surprised woman turning around in the bathroom as her male partner scares her

A Complex System of Meanings

Although there were many informal notions about what teeth meant in the past (such as the notion that a gap in your teeth symbolized lustfulness), the most complex system of symbolism of teeth was physiognomy. Physiognomy is the “science” of reading a person’s character based on their facial features, including their smile.

Some of the meanings that have been given to smiles are included below:

Broad teeth, standing close together are said to represent tranquility of spirit in some systems, but in other systems were equated with vanity.

Weakness, on the other hand, is related to long teeth that may be yellow, as well as a jawbone bent near the ear.

A gummy smile is associated with a cold and phlegmatic personality.

People with a melancholy personality, on the other hand, are said to have well-arranged, clean, white teeth. In other systems, clean, white, straight teeth represent honesty.

“Clear” teeth are especially important for a “noble, spotless maiden.” Sharp teeth, though, can be associated with a lustful and wanton character.

Overlapping upper teeth are associated with people who acquire goods and money, either through greed or saving.

In literature, teeth are often used as physical representations of our abstract identity, helping to turn something inexpressible into a concrete physical symbol.

Teeth in Dreams

One of the most common dreams people have is of their teeth falling out. Of course, this partly represents a fear of losing your teeth. It could mean that you’re afraid of being embarrassed. Or you might be afraid that you are going to be discovered telling lies.  But it also represents a need to let go. When you have this dream, consider what changes you might need to make in your life. When you see bloody teeth in dreams, this is more closely linked to health problems or fear of health problems. If you see or have yellow teeth in your dream, it means that you are associating with something that makes you feel uncomfortable or unclean.

Modern Symbolism

Although many of the meanings discussed above persisted through the 19th century, today we don’t put the same symbolism on teeth. We’ve acquired a completely different set. In particular, all positive characteristics have become associated with people who have straight, attractive teeth. If your teeth are attractive, you are considered to be more intelligent, more healthy, and more successful. Attractive teeth can help with personal relationships and professional ones.

If you are unhappy with the judgments people are making about you based on your teeth, we can help. A smile makeover can give you the smile you desire, allowing you to show the character you want.

To start your smile makeover process, please call (843) 706-2999 for an appointment with a Hilton Head cosmetic dentist at the Durham office.