Dental treatments to create a wider smile are becoming more popular because showing lots of upper teeth is seen as a sign of health and youth. We find out about 'full buccal corridors' and how to get them

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What do actors Sara Ramirez,  Margot Robbie and America Ferrera (L-R above) have in common? Aside from being in the hottest shows on our screens right now, they all have exceptionally wide smiles showing an almost unfeasible number of teeth. Looking at Julia Roberts, we've always wondered whether she actually had more teeth than any other human. They seem to gleam like piano keys whenever she flashes a smile.

We know that wide smiles are attractive, but why? Apparently, showing at least eight – and preferably ten – upper teeth creates the most appealing and youthful smile, says dentist Dr Rhona Eskander. She says that increasingly, she is helping her clients achieve that coveted wider smile, known in the trade as 'full buccal corridors'.

"If you have a broad smile, for example, eight to ten [upper] teeth showing, we describe this as having 'full buccal corridors','' she says.

Think about celebrities you're drawn to, from Ryan Gosling's Barbie-movie 'Kenergy' to Angelina Jolie's slaying smile, and you'll notice they all show off eight or more upper teeth when they smile. Dr. Rhona refers to this as "the power of eight" – let's face it 'full buccal corridors' doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. 

Who knew that having full buccal corridors is one of nature's attractive signals? Never mind pouting, or 'smizing' (that's smiling with just your eyes, as coined by model Tyra Banks), toothsome grinning is in.

Why are full buccal corridors considered attractive?

Nature loves symmetry and a symmetrical face with a wide smile is deemed more inviting, explains Dr Rhona. Secondly, when you have wide teeth they provide a lift for your cheeks from underneath, almost like filler.  "If you have a broad smile it provides support to the soft tissues such as the buccal areas (ie the cheeks) and lips," says Dr Rhona.

One thing we notice as we age is that the space between the nose and the lip becomes longer. This is due to collagen and elastin loss and the effects of gravity, which causes our faces to start to drop. Our longer top lip can completely cover our top teeth, leaving only the bottom ones visible when we speak or smile. "By broadening the smile it also provides lip support which is very youthful, says Dr Rhona.

Dr Rhona's video on Tiktok explains how Angelina Jolie and others have full buccal corridors; it has received 2.5 million views. “Since the video, everyone has been coming into my clinic and asking for this specifically,” Dr Rhona tells us.

How to get full buccal corridors – a wider 'toothier' smile

If you’re not blessed with full buccal corridors, there are ways to widen your smile. Dr Rhona starts with a consultation to investigate the reason for the narrow smile. "Narrow smiles can be caused by the width of the top jaw, misalignment of the upper teeth and/or missing teeth," she explains. "This can lead to unsupported muscles of the cheeks and lips, eventually giving a more aged appearance and hence a less attractive smile. A narrow smile can also mean that the front teeth look too prominent or they stick out, taking prominence in your smile."

She commonly recommends one of two treatments:

1. The long-term way to widen your smile: braces or Invisalign to expand the dental arch

Both Invisalign and fixed braces can create 'arch expansion', where space is created for your teeth, allowing for wider buccal corridors. The devices gradually move your teeth move outwards, so more of them are on show when you smile.

“When there isn’t enough space for your teeth to align next to each other they become crowded or crooked,” explains Dr Rhona. “During arch expansion, all the visible teeth in your smile move outwards in small increments, giving your teeth extra arch room to align.”

2. The instant way to widen your smile: composite bonding and veneers to make more teeth visible

Minimal prep veneers and composite bonding can even out your teeth. A dentist would normally treat four to six top teeth treated. But by treating eight to ten teeth, thereby, taking in some of the back teeth as well, Dr Rhona is able to widen the buccal corridors. 

"Veneers thicken the teeth making them protrude more, giving the appearance of a wider smile," she says. "The back teeth are just as important as the front when creating a big bright and perfect smile."

Grinning like the Cheshire Cat demands a certain degree of confidence and is not everyone's cup of tea. However, Dr. Rhona says she is noticing a definite movement toward people investing in their smiles in the age of Zoom as well as a 'you only live once' attitude of not wanting to put up with a smile that makes you feel self-conscious.

Plus there are other upsides to smiling, not just as a reason to show off your new tooth gem. The action of smiling itself, even if it's forced, can make you feel happier, says a study. Pouting, meanwhile, is a fast track to lip wrinkles. We know which one we're choosing!

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@drrhonaeskander #duet  with @drrhonaeskander had to duet this one #dentist #teeth #smiles #bonding #whitening #beauty #love #veneers #angelinajolie #trending #dental ♬ original sound - Dr Rhona Eskander

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Find Dr Rhona at Dr Rhona Eskander of Cheslea Dental Clinic