August 26, 2013

Tips for a Photogenic Smile

With the ubiquitous cameras in cell phones, email profile pictures, and online photo sharing, a camera-ready smile is almost a necessity.  Thankfully, you don't have to be a celebrity or genetically blessed to create one.

Smile Tip #1:  Wear a "Parade" Smile
Photogenic smiles are gentle and natural.  Lily T. Garcia, DDS, MS, FACP tells her patients to smile as if they are in a parade.  In other words, strike a smile you can hold for a long time.  When you smile gently, your face looks relaxed.  Your mouth opens slightly, and your lower lip matches the curve of your upper teeth.  "You'll feel the edges of your upper front teeth gently touching your lower lip," says Garcia, president of the American College of Prosthodontists.  Your cheeks may rise a bit, but not too much.  It's the opposite of the quick smile that flashes across your face when you see an old friend.  That kind of jumping-for-joy smile makes your eyes squint and your neck muscles tense -- which can make for an awkward-looking photo.

Smile Tip #2:  Nix the Double Chin
More worried about your chin than your smile?  It's all about posture.  "If you slouch or your head is too bent forward, you won't like how your smile looks," says Pamela McClain, DDS.  She recommends turning your head slightly and dropping your chin so your face is not completely square with the camera.

Smile Tip #3:  Make Lipstick Your Friend
If you are a woman, select a lipstick that works with your skin tone.  "The right shade of lipstick can make teeth look whiter," Garcia says.  Shades like cherry red, wine, berry, plum, or rosy pink are your best bet. The blue-based or pink-based undertones will minimize any yellowish tones in your teeth.  On the other hand, Garcia says that the wrong color, especially one that's too dark or too red, can detract from your smile. 

Smile Tip #4:  Work With What You Have
You don't need perfect teeth to have a camera-worthy smile.  Just look at Tom Cruise and his off-center ivories.  Garcia points out that the line between his two front teeth, which should line up with the center of his nose, is off to one side.  It's rather obvious, but when Cruise smiles, few people notice it.

Smile Tip #5:  Prime Your Teeth and Gums
Preparation may be required.  If your teeth have yellowed with age, you might take time to try a whitening product from the pharmacy or visit your dentist.  Correcting cracked, broken, or missing teeth will likely mean some time with a dental professional.  Healthy gums play a crucial role in a photogenic smile.  "You can have beautiful teeth but if your gums aren't healthy, that detracts from your smile," says McClain, president of the American Academy of Periodontology.  Take Julia Roberts, McClain says:  "She's got a big smile, and she has a really nice blend of gum tissue and tooth." 

Smile Tip #6:  Practice
Your perfect smile might not happen overnight.  If you have a big photo event like a wedding or graduation coming up, take time to practice smiling in front of a mirror.  You can see how it looks and feels when you hold your shoulders back proudly and strike a natural, unforced smile.  You can also play around with turning your head and finding your best angle.  


Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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