Cosmetic Dentistry |9 min read

How Your Smile Makes a Good vs. Bad First Impression

A male patient of Dr. Griffin smiling with perfect teeth, and text that says "What do your teeth say about you?"

Seven seconds.

That’s all it takes to make a first impression.

And what’s going to make a lasting impression?

Your smile.

One survey… This text opens a new tab to an AACD PDF… reported 48% of adults believe a smile is the most memorable trait after first meeting someone.

That means your smile is more important than what you say, wear, or smell like during your first encounter.

Now, ask yourself this:

What does your smile say about you?

Intelligent? Hirable? Trustworthy? Successful?

Attractive? Confident? Healthy? Friendly?

These are all qualities you may be labeled as based on your smile.

And it turns out; it can be tough to change someone’s first impression… This text opens a new tab to the first impression definition on Psychology Today… of you.

So to answer the question, “How important is a nice smile?”

It’s VERY important.

In this blog, we’ll uncover the truth about your smile and how it can affect your life, professionally and personally. As well as provide tips on how to improve your smile for a better first impression.

What does a smile say about you?

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to your smile: your health, career, love life, social status, etc.

Subtle things, like if you show your teeth or not, can give off certain perceptions.

To help you make the right kind of first impression, we’ll explain the different types of smiles.

Fake smile vs. smiling with your eyes

Your eyes are a dead giveaway to whether or not you’re genuinely smiling.

A fake smile is forced and primarily only affects your lips.

A Duchenne smile… This text opens a new tab to the Duchenne definition… (a genuine smile) will have your cheeks rise and the skin around your eyes bunch up, creating crow’s feet.

Studies show this type of real smile perceives you as trustworthy and sincere.

When someone flashes you a Duchenne smile, it’s hard not to smile back – it’s contagious! This reciprocation helps us create a short bond with one another and feel approachable.

Closed lip smile vs. open smile

Smiling with your lips closed… This text opens a new tab to an article on smiles…, showing no teeth, is often associated with hiding something, being apprehensive, or unfriendly.

In dentistry, it’s a clear indicator you don’t feel confident about your smile.

In some cases, you can have a Duchenne smile with your lips closed. But it doesn’t precisely express joy.

When you smile with your lips open and show teeth, it looks more joyous. Plus, it shows you don’t have anything to hide as far as your teeth go.

Flawed teeth vs. perfect teeth

One reason why you might close your lips when you smile is because of imperfections.

Chips, stains, gum tissue, alignment, and so forth can leave you self-conscious and wanting to hide your teeth, which then results in the perceptions above.

Unfortunately, these flaws hinder your overall attractiveness to others:

40% of women and 35% of men agree an imperfect smile makes you less attractive than if you had a perfect one.

Luckily, cosmetic dentistry exists!

Nowadays, just about every dental flaw can be fixed. From teeth whitening and dental bonding to veneers and orthodontics, you can improve your smile in a multitude of ways.

Many dentists, like ours, offer free dental consultations so you can explore your treatment options without a commitment.

Request a Virtual Consultation

Discolored teeth vs. white teeth

Yellow, stained, and discolored teeth are seen as unattractive and unhealthy.

Whereas white teeth are a sign of health and youthfulness.

Good news:

Teeth whitening is one of the most affordable ways to improve your smile.

Ask your dentist what’s the best tooth whitening option for you. While over-the-counter products, like strips and gels, may seem cheaper, they may not grant you the results or longevity you want.

And be careful:

Don’t go full Ross Geller… This text opens a new tab to a Friends YouTube clip… on whitening your teeth.

If your teeth are a lot whiter than the whites of your eyes, you may look sick.

Another bonus:

After whitening your teeth and making that investment (both time and money), you’re more likely to take better care of your teeth and maintain your white results.

The importance of your smile in the digital age

With social platforms, like LinkedIn and Tinder, first impressions are now happening digitally.

No more firm handshakes and direct eye contact.

It’s all about your profile picture!

And you probably won’t even know when someone new is “virtually meeting” you for the first time.

Which should make you the question:

What story does your profile picture tell?

Does it say “I’m professional and qualified”?

Or “I like to have fun on the weekends”?

Depending on the social platform, either of these could be a good thing – for example, LinkedIn vs. Tinder.

But having the wrong profile picture for the wrong platform can be damaging.

How your smile affects you professionally

When a potential employer lands on your profile, they’ll want to see you. Not your kids, pets, or throwback photos.

To make a good first impression digitally, you’ll want to make sure your profile photo is:

  • Current: Is it recognizably you?
  • Tasteful: Would you want your grandma to see it?
  • Happy: Are you genuinely smiling?

Checking off these three marks leaves a positive impression on any viewer.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, here are more tips to improve your profile picture:

Tips for your profile photo: Smile with your eyes, Moisten teeth and lips for a bright smile, Red lipstick can make teeth look whiter, Wear earth toned colors, Dark colors make you look thinner, Know your audience, LinkedIn vs. Facebook

Tips for taking a good profile photo:

  • Smile with your eyes
  • Moisten teeth and lips for a bright smile
  • Red lipstick can make teeth look whiter
  • Wear earth-toned colors
  • Dark colors make you look thinner
  • Know your audience, LinkedIn vs. Facebook

Now that you’ve made an excellent first impression, how does your smile affect your career?

The AACD reported three out of four adults believe an unattractive smile hurts your chances for career success.

We did a little research of our own, and came to this conclusion:

When you don’t like your teeth, you’re less likely to show them.

That means you may appear unhappy and unfriendly to your coworkers. Bosses tend to view those who smile more as productive because they’re presumably happy with their job. As a result, this leads to promotions and career growth.

By smiling in the workplace, you uplift the mood and improve camaraderie within the office.

Let’s say you’re not afraid to flash your pearly whites, but it has got some flaws. Here are some facts… This text opens a new tab to the P&G website… that may convince you to improve your smile:

  • People with straight teeth are seen as more competent and successful.
  • Adults who received orthodontic treatment reported improvements in their careers.
  • People with whiter teeth are more likely to get hired and receive a higher salary.

The first step?

A cosmetic dentistry consultation!

Search for the “best cosmetic dentist near me” and check out their smile gallery for real patients’ before and after photos. When you find a portfolio you like, request to schedule a consultation!

Our dental expert, Dr. Justin Griffin, offers free virtual consultations in Columbia, SC.

Request an Online Dental Consultation

How your smile affects your personal life

A lot of the above can be said for your personal life as well.

For example:

45% of adults agree a smile is the most attractive feature you can have, no matter how old you are.

If you have a beautiful smile, you’re more likely to get asked on a date and get asked on a second date.

As for your social life, smiling more can help people view you as trustworthy and friendly.

Dr. Griffin has first-hand experience seeing the boost of confidence patients get after improving the look of their smiles.

Your oral health can also impact your finances. Healthy teeth and gums require minimal dental costs – just a good at-home routine with regular cleanings and check-ups from your dentist.

An unhealthy mouth can accumulate a lot of bills. For example, untreated dental problems can result in emergency room visits for pain or expensive restorative treatments to replace lost or severely damaged teeth.

How to get a better smile

We believe your smile is one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

Nothing compares to being able to benefit from your investment, like using it 24/7 for the rest of your life!

And after reading all these facts, we hope you understand how important it is to have a nice smile.

Below, we’ve outlined popular ways to transform your teeth from the most expensive to cost-effective treatments.

Cost: $$$


Straighten your teeth with clear aligners for a discreet treatment. Hardly anyone will notice!


Braces are an effective way to straighten teeth and major issues, like TMJ and bite problems.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the #1 restoration for replacing missing teeth. They’re custom-designed to look and feel just like a natural tooth.

Cost: $$

Porcelain Veneers

Want a Hollywood smile? Porcelain veneers hide about any smile flaw. Plus, you and Dr. Griffin can customize the style of your smile the way you want it. Our dental team will consult you on how much porcelain veneers cost.

Prepless Veneers

Lumineers are less invasive than porcelain veneers and completely transform your smile.


Our cosmetic dentist uses CEREC same-day crowns, so you don’t have to wear a temporary or wait for your final crown. We design, create, and place it all in one appointment!

Cost: $

Teeth Whitening

Our in-office treatment whitens your teeth up to eight shades lighter. It’ll remove deep stubborn stains, so your teeth get whiter and stay that way longer than over-the-counter products.

Cosmetic Bonding

Got a chip? Gap? Discolored tooth? Dental bonding is an inexpensive way to improve your smile. The procedure typically only takes one appointment and may not even require an anesthetic.

Gum Contouring

Got a gummy look or uneven gum line? We use laser dentistry to reshape your gums for a symmetrical look (no scalpel, cutting, or stitches needed).

An unattractive smile before cosmetic dentistry with text, "3 in 4 adults believe an unattractive smile can hurt your chance for career success."

Improved smile = improved quality of life!

Life is short. You deserve to love your smile and not let it hinder your life in any fashion.

When you have a beautiful smile, you’ll show it off more and reap all the benefits, including:

  • Career success
  • Active love life
  • Social opportunities
  • Improved oral and overall health
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Boosted confidence

The list goes on!

And the first step to get started is to schedule a consultation!

Looking for a top cosmetic dentist in South Carolina? Meet with Dr. Griffin virtually!

Request an Online Smile Consultation

WildeWood Aesthetic Dentistry is conveniently located in Columbia, SC, and proudly serves surrounding communities, including Irmo, Lexington, Camden, Blythewood, and Elgin, SC.