People with well-aligned, perfectly white teeth are rated 10 percent higher than faces with crooked teeth, says research.
The results indicate a 'modest social benefit' to having straight teeth, " said Dr. Steven Lindauer, professor and department chairman of orthodontics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
To evaluate the importance of teeth in the assessment of physical attractiveness, Lindauer and his colleagues selected teenage volunteers age 10 to 16 years old.
They took the teens' photos and digitally inserted straight or crooked teeth into the photos of each.
They then showed the images to other study participants, so that one group saw a face with crooked teeth while the other group saw the same face with straight teeth.
The reviewers were asked to rate what they thought about the faces based on popularity, sports ability, leadership, and intelligence.
The researchers say that those with straight teeth were rated 10 percent higher than the faces with crooked teeth in all of the categories except for smarts, reports the Los Angeles Times.
"The data is there on the social science side that we live in a society where not looking abnormal, but looking good, is a valued commodity," says Dr. Lee Graber, past president of the American Assn. of Orthodontists.
"You can say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we do it every day," he added.
The study has been published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.