The Anatomy and Classification of a Natural Smile

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Cosmetic dentistry is about helping you achieve a prettier smile and feeling more attractive. After all, a bright smile can make anyone appear more beautiful and confident.

From fixing discoloured teeth to filling gaps between them, this branch of dentistry enhances your facial aesthetics.

However, a close study of all elements in your oral region is required to create harmony between your teeth and the rest of your mouth. That’s why understanding the anatomy of the smile is crucial in aesthetic dentistry.

Anatomy of a Natural Smile: Identifying Patterns and Styles

Many cosmetic dentistry procedures try to enhance the aesthetics of your teeth and smile.

As a consumer you need to understand the different types of smiles to be able to ask for what you want. A standard classification of smiles helps everyone, from patients to dentists to staff and laboratory personnel, identify problems.

Since everyone has a unique face and smile, dentists need to review each type of smile before they can create the perfect one for you.

Classification of a Smile

The amount of movement that exists in a normal smile varies significantly from person to person. Depending on this factor, smiles can be classified into two categories:

  • The Static Smile

This is a posed or social smile that people voluntarily portray when they’re in a social setting or being photographed.

  • The Dynamic Smile

This is more spontaneous and involuntary. Hence it is a better representation of someone’s true emotions. In a maximum spontaneous smile, the commissure (i.e. the point where the lips meet) moves from 7 to 22 mm, with its average direction being 40° from the horizontal. (The average range is between 24° and 38°.)

Different Types of Smile Stages 

According to the Canadian Dental Association, there are four stages in any smile cycle:

  • Stage 1: Smiling with the lips closed
  • Stage 2: Resting display
  • Stage 3: Natural smile
  • Stage 4: Expanded smile

When needed to identify a smile or any specific smile problem, these stages can be helpful as reference. By looking at the smile, it can be determined which stage it’s at. Using these classifications, patients and dentists can more easily communicate their concerns regarding treatments.

Different Smile Styles

Everyone’s smile is different. Among the billions out there, three patterns have been identified as fundamental.

  1. The Commissure Smile

This classic smile pattern is also known as the “Mona Lisa” smile. During this type, the corners of the mouth get pulled up and move in the outward direction. Then the levators, a facial muscle responsible for lifting the upper lip, contract, exposing the upper teeth. According to the CDA, 67% of the population display this type of smile.

Fun Fact

Eminent personalities with a commissure smile include Jennifer Anniston, Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn.


  1. The Cuspid Smile

Seen among 31% of people, the cuspid smile is the next most common pattern. In this type, the levator labii superioris contract first, exposing the cuspids. Then the corners of the mouth contract, pulling lips up and outward. Their shape is visualized as a diamond in this type of smile pattern.

Fun Fact

Famous actors like Tom Cruise, Sharon Stone and Drew Barrymore all sport the cuspid smile.


  1. The Complex Smile

This is the rarest of smile patterns, as only 2% of the population displays it. Here, the levator muscle of the upper lip and corners of the mouth, as well as the depressors of the lower lip, all contract almost simultaneously. Due to this, both upper and lower teeth are exposed simultaneously. When people display this type of smile pattern, their lips resemble two parallel chevrons.

Fun Fact

Julia Roberts, Marilyn Monroe and Will Smith are just a few of the celebrities with a complex smile.

Different Types of Smiles

Depending on which dental or periodontal tissues are displayed during the smile, there are five variations.

  • Type 1: Only maxillary (upper jaw) tissues are displayed.
  • Type 2: Maxillary and over 3 mm of gingiva (gums) are displayed.
  • Type 3: Only mandibular (lower jaw) tissue is displayed.
  • Type 4: Maxillary and mandibular tissues are displayed together.
  • Type 5: Neither maxillary nor mandibular tissues are displayed.

Interesting Fact

Most people have one type of smile, but it’s possible to combine types. For example, someone with a complex smile may show maxillary and mandibular teeth together while also having a “gummy” smile. This means they expose more than 3 mm of the gingiva.

Living with a smile you’re not happy about is more about choice than fate these days. Thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, it’s possible to alter and improve your smile, no matter how damaged your teeth. With the help of these guidelines, you can convey what you want to your dentist. They can then reshape your teeth and close any gaps to give you your desired result.

This entry was posted in Dentistry on Dusk on March 20, 2020.

Dental Clinic Brampton

(Chinguacousy Rd. / Dusk Dr.)
55 Dusk Drive (Unit #2)
Brampton, Ontario, L6Y 5Z6

Phone: 905-453-7777