It’s no secret that we only have one chance to make a lasting first impression, which can often shape how we are perceived and remembered in both our social and professional lives. Eyes may be the window to the soul, but a smile can withstand the test of time, according to a survey conducted by Kelton on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistr y (AACD). The AAD conducted this survey in recognition of Healthy Aging Month which takes place in September. Kelton polled 1,018 American adults ages 18 and over questioning them about their attitudes related to aging and beauty. The research concluded that a smile is the one feature that will always remain the most attractive no matter how old we get.
Perhaps this is why most people consider their smiles a worthwhile investment and would be willing to open up their wallets to preserve their pearly whites.
Withstanding the Test of Time
Perhaps a person’s smile makes such an impact on first impressions because we believe it is the one feature that will always be attractive no matter how old we get.
About 45% of survey participants agree a smile is the most attractive feature, no matter their age. Roughly half (54%) of respondents ages 50+ attest that a smile can withstand the test of time most attractively as someone ages, compared with 39 percent of 18-49 year-olds who feel the same.
Nearly half (45%) think a person’s smile can defy aging’s effects while eyes come in a distant second (34%). In comparison, fewer adults find the following features likely to age well:
- Body shape (10%)
- Hair (6%)
- Legs (5%)
Perhaps speaking from experience, 54 percent of the U.S. population 50+ can attest that a smile is the feature that can overcome decades of birthdays most attractively. This is far more than 39 percent of younger counterparts who feel the same.
Leverage Your Greatest Asset When Making a First Impression
There's only one chance to make a lasting first impression and a smile can go a long way.
- Say Cheese. Close to one in two (48%) people believe that a smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone – more so than the first thing a person says (25%). Those ages 50+ are more likely than their 18-49 year-old counterparts (52% vs. 45%) to remember a smile when first introduced to someone.
- The Minor Things. And nothing else even comes close to the impact a great smile can make. Fewer Americans would be likely to remember a person’s clothes (9%) or the way he or she smelled (8%) after meeting for the first time.
- Attractiveness and Confidence. More than a third of respondents view people with a flawed smile to be less attractive (37%) and less confident (25%) than those with perfect teeth. More women than men (40% vs. 35%) agree that an imperfect smile makes someone less appealing than a person with a perfect smile.
Worth the Investment
Given the importance of a perfect smile, most people surveyed would be willing to spend money safeguarding their teeth as they age.
- Preventative Measures. A whopping 80 percent admit they would spend money to maintain a youthful appearance. More women than men (84% vs. 75%) are willing to make this investment. And since many believe that turning 30 gives you plenty to dread, it’s not surprising that people ages 30-39 are more likely than any other age groups (88% vs. 78%) to consider shelling out money for their looks.
- Worth the Fight. More than three in five (62%) of them would spend their money to maintain the quality of their teeth.
- Not Worth the Money? And while they recognize that their hair or legs are not as likely to remain as attractive as their smile once they age, fewer would be willing to spend money to address thinning hair (33%) or unsightly veins on their legs (28%) than they would on their teeth.
- Last on the List. Other aging imperfections or flaws such as excess weight (48%), dark under-eye circles (33%), and wrinkles (31%) are more likely to be ignored than their teeth.
“The fact is, we are living in a time when it is possible to turn back the clock and improve some of the physical impacts of aging,” said Dr. Ron Goodlin, AACD past president. “With that, we find that our dental patients, both men and women of all ages, see a major improvement in their confidence levels which impacts every part of their lives.”