Editor's note: Helaine Smith's column, The Mouth Physician, appears regularly on the DrBicuspid.com advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.
While watching the recent debates, I found myself analyzing the presidential candidates and their smiles and concluded that their smiles give clues into their personalities -- and possibly their governing style.
John McCain's yellow teeth and a gold crown on his upper right molar show his age. He probably got that gold crown in the Navy because few dentists do those anymore.
In addition, he has old amalgam or silver fillings in the posterior teeth -- and the bluish black color of the fillings shines through, making his smile and his teeth look worn and very old.
Like John McCain, Joe Biden also has a smile that shows his age. It appears that Biden may have a denture for his mandibular or lower teeth. In addition, his maxillary or upper teeth appear to be a rehab of older crowns. The combination of old and new dental work isn't well integrated. His upper teeth are dull due to old porcelain crowns and his mandibular teeth are very flat -- they look like a denture or an even an older rehab of crowns.
The fact that John McCain has not whitened his teeth, which could be done quite easily while on a ride on the Straight Talk Express, or replaced those black fillings with tooth-colored fillings says a lot.
He's not concerned with looking his age or with how other people view him. It could be he views teeth whitening as "too Hollywood" -- a perception that goes against his "maverick" personality.
Biden, on the other hand, would benefit from having wider maxillary teeth and less taper, which would offset his long face and give him a more powerful smile. Right now his smile is too flashy -- and this is because the new work on his upper teeth doesn't reflect the light well. Hence, his smile may not look sincere to some people and thus he may not come across as trustworthy. And, because his lower teeth are flat, I would hazard a guess he grinds his teeth due to stress.
Because they are younger and benefited from regular dental care as children and teens, both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin have beautiful, youthful smiles. Obama's teeth have retained their enamel and natural shape -- an indication he doesn't suffer from teeth grinding, even with the stress of the Presidential race.
Obama's teeth are simply gorgeous naturally -- and they add significantly to his star power.
Palin, on the other hand, had orthodontic treatment as a teen but her right central tooth is shorter than her left tooth. Thus, she doesn't have symmetry between her front two teeth -- a problem that is easily rectified with cosmetic dentistry.
She may have decided against cosmetic dentistry because she's not as concerned with how she looks -- the same as her running mate, John McCain. She's an outdoor type who keeps busy and active -- fixing a minor imperfection is not on her list of priorities. However, her teeth are oval shaped and very pretty and they perfectly match her heart-shaped face.
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