What Are The Smile Design Principles?

Whether they like it or not, human beings are hardwired to judge people based on their smile. Some people prefer not to judge a book by its cover, but nothing can be done with how the human brain works. It is for this very bias that some people work so hard to have a beautiful smile. This need for a good smile is what begs the question, “What makes a beautiful smile?”

Most people do not really know how to answer. Dentists, however, being the profession most concerned with the teeth, have taken a great deal of time and attention to dissect what makes a beautiful smile. Understanding it does not require a degree in dentistry. Here is a brief discussion on the anatomy of a human smile.

Smile design

In the field of cosmetic dentistry, smiles are a matter that professionals take very seriously. The principles involved in the makeover of a smile are referred to as smile design. Taken together, these principles provide the total esthetic impact of a person’s smile. They are divided into four main categories: facial esthetics, gum esthetics, microesthetics, and macroesthetics.

Facial esthetics

This concerns the muscular and facial considerations. They vary from one patient to another. These are analyzed through photographic and visual analysis, and include how lips can frame a smile when a person speaks, laughs or smiles.

Gum esthetics

As the name gives away, this principle is primarily concerned with the appearance and health of a person’s gums. It is an essential component of smile design. It takes into account the amount of gum shown, whether or not the gums are even, inflammation and so much more.


The devil is in the details, as the saying goes – and so are dentists. Microesthetics deals with the minute details of a person’s teeth that make them look the way they do. It takes into account matters such as how the light is reflected or the distinct colorations or marks.


This principle takes a look at the features and proportions in relation to one another, specifically the ones that exist between a person’s front teeth, facial characteristics, as well as tissue landmarks. This is done to make sure that the smile makeover is attractive and restorative.

Smile components

Aside from the principles that govern a person’s smile makeover, dentists deconstruct a person’s smile into components to make it easier to analyze.

The lips are considered to be the frame for a smile as it serves to frame the teeth and gums. The midline is base point for smile design and refers to the imaginary vertical line that exists between a person’s two front teeth. Smile line is the line created at the top of the lower lip, and should ideally be parallel to the two front teeth. Finally, the teeth should ideally be strait, white, properly spaced and without any stains.