When it comes to smiling, people rate their own grins higher than their dentists do, says a study.
The study found that people younger than age 50 years were most satisfied with their smiles.
In the study, 78 patients were asked to rate their own smiles on a 100-point satisfaction scale.
The participants, who were not actively seeking cosmetic dental treatments, averaged 51 years of age and numbered 50 women and 28 men.
Later, the patients' regular dentist and an independent periodontist rated the patients' smiles from photographs, using the same satisfaction scale.
The analysis found that patients were more satisfied with their own smiles than dentists, rating them an average 59.1 on the 100-point scale. Dentists' ratings of the patients' smiles were much lower, averaging 38.6 (independent periodontist) and 40.7 (patients' own dentist).
The researchers said that it might be difficult to understand what a smile satisfaction level of 59 really means, adding it might be more accurate to say patients are "accepting of, or contented with, their smiles."
"The fact that the patients had much higher opinions of their smiles than we dentists did is interesting," the researchers said.
They explained that patients expressed their opinions from memory, while the dentists made their assessments from photographs.
The researchers speculated that if the patients had used the clinicians' detailed approach to include assessing lip lines, tooth shade, spacing, and crowding, their opinions about their smiles might have been different.
"Dentists should be aware that patients who seek esthetic services may have different perceptions of their smiles than patients who do not express such desires," the researchers said.
The study is published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.