When you think about what makes an attractive smile, your list might stop at straight, white teeth or maybe something that will make you look younger. There are actually many aspects of an attractive smile that your brain registers, even if you might not think of them. Here are 11 characteristics that can determine whether your smile is attractive or not, which can help you talk with us about concerns you may have about the appearance of your smile.

Tooth Color

Of course you are aware that the color of your teeth makes a big impact on the attractiveness of your smile. It’s often not the whiteness of your teeth, but the lack of yellowness that makes the difference, so if you’re concerned about the color of your teeth, you might try teeth whitening but you might also try using lipstick with a little more blue in it, since this can visually neutralize the yellow.

Buccal Corridor

The buccal corridor is the area between your teeth and the corner of your mouth. This dark space is essential in creating a visual contrast with the white of your teeth and also helps your smile look balanced. Too much space in the buccal corridor can make it look like you’re missing teeth, but if you don’t have enough space, your smile can look toothy and crowded.

Smile Arc

The smile arc is the curve of your teeth. Ideally, the line of your teeth, which is defined by both the incisal edge and gum line (more on these later), should create a slight upward curve that narrows as it recedes into the buccal corridor.


Ideally, your teeth should all just barely touch one another. Teeth that have gaps between them create dark spaces that not only hint at unhealthiness, they can even trigger a horror response in some people. Teeth that are too crowded interfere with the straight lines of your smile, creating a jagged effect.

Gum Display

How much gum you show has a significant effect on how attractive your smile is. If you are displaying too much gum, your teeth might look small, and your gums might look swollen, a characteristic of an unhealthy and aged smile. If you are displaying too little gum, your smile might look toothy, or it might seem as if you have receding gums, which is another sign of unhealthy gums.

Gum Color

It’s not just the color of your teeth that matters for your appearance. Healthy gums have a particular color, and if they have gum disease, they will turn redder, which can significantly impact the appearance of your smile.

Maxillary Gum Line

This is the line formed between the intersection of your upper teeth and gums. It should be relatively even, with a nicely scalloped formation, but trend slightly upward visually as your smile curves around. Disruptions in the appearance of your gum line can convey an unhealthy appearance.

Incisal Edge

The incisal edge is the edge of teeth that cut into your food when you bite. This should be even between pairs of matching teeth, such as the central incisors, lateral incisors, or canines. Like the gum line, it should curve gently upward around the curve of your smile. Irregularities in the incisal edge can be caused by chipped teeth, missing leeth like missing laterals, or small teeth. They can be fixed with dental veneers, dental implants, or dental crowns.


Cant is the tilt of your teeth. This should be close to vertical and should be matched in all your teeth. If your teeth are tilted forward or backward, it not only impacts the appearance of your smile, but can make it harder to bite and chew. An irregular cant can be corrected with orthodontics.


Overbite is when your upper teeth extend slightly over your lower teeth when your mouth is in a relaxed position. This has become endemic in western society since the development of the fork, and it’s become an attractive characteristic. Too much or too little overbite are considered unattractive, and both can typically be addressed with orthodontics.

Dental Midline

Symmetry is an essential aspect of beauty, and the line of that symmetry is your facial midline. If your dental midline doesn’t match the facial midline, it can lead to an unattractive appearance.

Your smile might also seem off if the midline of your upper jaw and lower jaw don’t quite match. Your dental midline can be adjusted with orthodontics.

Making the Most of Your Smile

Of course, having an attractive smile is about more than just the measurements of your teeth and gums. Much of it is your approach to smiling. Check out our tips for getting a great smile in photos. Following those tips can help you show off your smile to its best advantage, whether it’s in pictures or in person. This includes tips like:

  • Use makeup that flatters your smile
  • Stand properly
  • Tilt your head
  • Use techniques to feel relaxed and natural
  • Be confident in your smile

That last term might be the hardest to achieve. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile, you can’t just tell yourself to be confident. That might take help. And that’s where we come in.

No matter what concerns you might have about your smile, we can likely come up with treatment options to give you the beautiful smile you desire and deserve. Please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment with Las Vegas cosmetic dentist Dr. James B. Polley today.