Rise of the selfie leads to huge increase in people seeking dental work
Dental surgeons see large hike in patients wanting to fix what they wrongly believe are protruding teeth, not realising their phone creates distorted image
Published 02/02/2016 | 14:26
The world's rising obsession with the selfie - a photograph taken by the user, normally on a mobile phone - is leading to a proliferation of "dental dysmorphia", warn experts.
Surgeons in the UK say they are seeing a large hike in people wanting a reduction in the natural dominance of their front two teeth, not realising that their phone is actually creating a distorted photo.
The London Smile Clinic has seen a 30 per cent rise in demand for treatment to correct "horsey" teeth by potential patients who email selfies.
Yet dental experts at the surgery are having to stop several people a week from undergoing work they do not need because when they visit in person their teeth look normal.
Selfies can distort the prominence of a user's front teeth if they are taken too closely to the face and be further emphasised by the uses of flash.
"The problem with a selfie is that the picture is taken quite closely, so the image can be distorted," said Dr Tim Bradstock-Smith, the clinical director at the London Smile Clinic.
"Teeth often look more protruding than they are in real life and appear 'horse-like', which can also be emphasised by the unflattering light of the flash.
"As teeth are at the centre of the image, people are increasingly, and understandably, driven to make them look nicer.
"While these photos will undeniably exaggerate defects, they can also be misleading."
Dr Bradstock-Smith said selfies have become the most popular way for women to appraise their looks - especially as many now use them to apply their make-up on the move in lieu of the traditional compact mirror.
He said he has to dissuade several patients a week from having unnecessary treatment.
"It's always been thought that the two front teeth look good being a little more dominant with a step in length between these and the next two," he said.
"It creates a 'smile curve' and it's a highly aesthetic, natural, feminine, youthful appearance. However if your selfies are taken too close it can be distorted and exaggerate the size of the two front teeth."
Dr Bradstock-Smith added: "We will take some undistorted photos to see what's really going on before diving into treatment, but selfies have caused an increase in demand for a reduction in this natural dominance of the front two teeth.
"We have seen a 30 per cent rise over five years in the number of patients sending in selfies through the website with concerns about the look of their front teeth, yet when the patients come in person, often the teeth don't look too bad at all.
"We dissuade approximately two to three patients now each week from treatment, and for many others will recommend simple alignment of front teeth with clear aligners instead of major intervention work - and we now even offer tips on taking better photos."
To take the best selfie, medics suggest that either a selfie stick is used to achieve extra distance between the camera and face or for the user to extend their arm as far as possible.