Selfie survey

Grin and don’t bare it: poor oral health is stopping us showing our teeth in selfies, survey reveals


May 2016

Grin and don't bare it: poor oral health is stopping us showing our teeth in selfies, survey reveals

  • New poll reveals our facial expressions when having our photos taken.
  • Less than one in three smile and show our teeth for photographs.
  • Stained and crooked teeth are the biggest reason behind our reluctance to smile.
  • The survey is part of the 40th National Smile Month, a charity campaign looking to improve the nation’s oral health.

While the majority of us are more than happy to smile for the camera we are not so keen on putting our gnashers on display when it comes to saying “cheese”, according to a new nationwide poll from the Oral Health Foundationand Oral-B.

Less than a third (29 per cent) of us said we are likely to pose for a photograph with an open mouth smile, with findings showing that discoloured teeth are the biggest reason we are not flashing our pearly whites (33 per cent).

But despite these shocking stats – us Brits still do not brush our teeth twice a day, with over half (55 per cent) of us UK adults admitting that we can only brush once a day!

Interestingly, the poll also shows that despite being popular amongst celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Joey Essex the duck pout has not yet caught on with the great British public, with only two per cent saying it is their go to selfie pose.

In the United Kingdom an estimated 17 million1 selfies are posted every week on social media, but for Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation there are a distinct lack of smiles amongst them.

Dr Carter said: “Most of us have a camera in our pocket everywhere we go now and with the quality of phone cameras constantly increasing more and more of us are worried about our appearance, especially it seems the state of our teeth.

“Discoloured and crooked teeth are two of the biggest reasons identified for the lack of toothy smiles but thankfully addressing these and taking care of our oral health is quite simple. As long as we brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often we eat sugary foods and drinks, and visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, we can help address major oral health problems.

“While most of us do choose to smile for a photo (75 per cent) most of us are opting not to show our teeth. Interestingly, the research has also revealed that women are far more likely smile for a photo than men; with more than 80 per cent going for a grin compared to 68 per cent of men.”

The Oral Health Foundation has released the research a part of National Smile Month, which runs from 16 May to 16 June. The campaign is the UK’s largest and longest and running initiative to promote good oral health and celebrates its 40th birthday this year.

They are seriously concerned that poor oral health is stopping millions of people from smiling and is highlighting the relationship between confidence, self-esteem and good oral health as a way to bring smiles back to our selfies.

Dr Carter continued: “A smile is an incredibly powerful tool and is worth remembering it is one we all possess; a simple smile can make others around you feel at ease, it’s highly contagious and plays such an important role in our lives that we should make our oral health top priority, it saddens us that not everyone has the confidence to show theirs off to its full potential.

“National Smile Month is a great opportunity for us to take a moment and think about our oral health and discover what we can do to improve it.”

National Smile Month 2016 is being supported by some of the nation’s best-known brands and retailers. Wrigley’s Extra, Oral-B as platinum sponsors of the campaign, with further support from Polo sugar-free and Philips Sonicare.

Visit for more information about National Smile Month.

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Our Tips for a Healthy Mouth

Good oral health can have so many wonderful life-changing benefits.  From greater self-confidence to better luck in careers and relationships, a healthy smile can truly transform your visual appearance, the positivity of your mind-set, as well as improving the health of not only your mouth but your body too.

As part of National Smile Month, we have put together some top tips covering all areas of your oral health, to help keep you smiling throughout the campaign.


Caring for your mouth

  • Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean in between your teeth at least once a day using interdental brushes or floss.
  • To check if you have bad breath, lick your wrist, let it dry and give it a sniff, if it smells your breath probably does too.
  • If you use mouthwash don’t use it directly after brushing as you rinse away the fluoride from your toothpaste.
  • Quit smoking to help reduce the chances of tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
  • Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride; it helps strengthen tooth enamel making it more resistant to decay.
  • Change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if it becomes worn as it will not clean the teeth properly.

Visit your dentist

    • Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
    • Some dentists may offer home visits for people who are housebound or have difficulty visiting the surgery.
    • If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, make sure they are aware of why so they can improve your treatment.
    • Help to overcome dental anxiety by taking a friend with you for support or listen to music to help you relax and focus on something else.
    • Your dentist will carry out a visual mouth cancer check during your regular check-up.
    • Visiting a dental hygienist can help give you excellent tips and advice on many dental problems
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  • Chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking, especially sugary foods, to help protect your teeth and gums in between meals.
  • Wait an hour after eating or drinking anything before brushing as then enamel will be softened and you could be brushing away tiny particles.
  • A varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease.
  • Finishing a meal with a cube of cheese is a great, and tasty, way to reduce the effect of acids from the foods damaging your teeth.
  • Avoid snacking and try to only have sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes, reducing the time your teeth come under attack.
  • If you have a sweet tooth try to choose sugar free sweets and drinks which contain xylitol as it can actively contribute to your oral health.

Children’s dental health

  • Weaning your baby off the bottle early can help them avoid developing dental problems.
  • All children up to three years old, should use a smear of toothpaste with a fluoride level of no less than 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old, they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm -1500ppm.
  • Parents should try and supervise your children’s tooth brushing until they are about 10 years old.

With acknowledgement to the British Dental Health Foundation 

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