Third of Kiwis self-conscious about their smiles, new survey reveals

woman smiling in sunglasses
A leading psychologist says there are multiple reasons to flash those pearly whites. Photo credit: Supplied.

A new study has revealed many Kiwis are struggling to smile, especially when they're in front of the camera. 

A survey of more than 1000 Kiwis, conducted for teledentistry company SmileDirectClub, revealed almost a quarter (22.6 percent) feel self-conscious about their teeth - second only to feeling self-conscious about their weight (38.4 percent).

This especially comes into play when smiling for having a photo taken, which makes more than a third of Kiwis self-conscious - not so great for these social-media savvy times. 

Many Kiwis even dubbed themselves "smile hiders" - with just over a fifth (21.8 percent) smiling with their mouth closed and 1 in 10 avoid smiling if they can. 

It's not just bad news for your Instagram feed. Psychologist Susan Wall said smiling is important for our mental wellbeing, as it instils people with stronger self-esteem and greater life satisfaction.

"When our smiling muscles contract they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system and increasing our levels of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin; our happy hormones," she explained. 

This has a wide range of effects ranging from making our body relax and lowering our heart rate to reducing stress and relieving pain.

"In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile. When we smile, our brain feels happier. A smile has the power to lift our mood and add to our sense of emotional wellbeing."

Wall said the act of smiling contributes to the happiness of others, be it coworkers and clients or friends and family.

"Scientists have found that seeing a smiling face activates our orbitofrontal cortex, the region in our brain that processes sensory rewards. This suggests that when we view a person smiling, we actually feel that we're being rewarded."

So if you're feeling self-conscious about your teeth, there are a myriad of ways that can be fixed in 2019 - with clear aligners paving the way forward for straightening with a metal-free mouth. Or just fake it until you make it, and smile with confidence! We can guarantee nobody is noticing your teeth as much as you are.

The survey was performed by Glow Feed researchers on behalf of teledentistry company SmileDirectClub.