LONDON — Don’t ask a group of Brits to say “cheese” when taking their photo — only a few of them are likely to oblige. A new survey finds that half of British adults hate their smile because of the condition of their teeth, and a majority have been affected by “Posh Spice Syndrome,” which occurs when a person is considered miserable because they smile so sparingly.
It’s no secret that the British have long been mocked on the big screen for their dental woes, and it turns out there’s plenty of truth to the stereotype. The survey of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom found that one’s teeth is a major source of stress for most people. In fact, on a list of the biggest stressors compiled by the researchers, teeth came in third, only behind finances and relationships.
Respondents say they’re so concerned about their smile, that their perception of their teeth has hurt their confidence at work and in their personal lives. A fifth of participants agreed that their teeth takes more of a toll on their self-esteem than their physique, hair, or wrinkle. The same number also fear they’re becoming introverted because they’re so self-conscious about their dental dilemma.
Three in five participants say their refusal to smile due to the condition of their teeth has led to them wrongly being accused of suffering from Posh Spice Syndrome. One in five feel the label has even hurt their ability to make friends.
“Consciously not smiling for fear of revealing your teeth can trigger a negative cycle comprising of feelings of anxiety, lack of confidence and low self-esteem,” says Dr. Aalok Shukla, CEO and co-founder of on-demand teledentistry company, Straight Teeth Direct, which commissioned the study, in a statement.
Some believe that having crooked teeth has hurt them professionally. One in ten respondents claim they’ve been turned down for a job because of their oral appearance. The same number said they wouldn’t even smile for wedding photos on the big day!
With a quarter of respondents saying they simply avoid smiling as much as they possibly can, it’s no surprise that nearly half (45 percent) don’t feel comfortable posting photos on social media if they’re grinning.
Sadly, 16 percent of respondents say they’ve gotten negative comments about the condition of their teeth, with one in ten being bullied during their school days.
Of course, there are many solutions out there for those looking to straighten their teeth or whiten them, yet only a quarter of respondents have paid for such procedures, spending £692.91 — about $884 — on average. One in ten have simply turned to corrective apps to make their teeth look whiter in photographs.
“Smiling is the most natural thing in the world,” says Shukla. “It’s an important way to communicate across boundaries and languages.”