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6 Tips for a Photogenic Smile

With cameras in cell phones, email profile pictures, and online photo sharing, a camera-ready smile is almost a necessity. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a celebrity or genetically blessed to create a crowd-pleasing smile.

taking photo with cellphone

Smile Tip #1: Wear a “Parade” Smile

Photogenic smiles are gentle and natural. Lily T. Garcia, DDS, MS, FACP tells her patients to smile as if they are in a parade. In other words, strike a smile you can hold for a long time. When you smile gently, your face looks relaxed. Your mouth opens slightly, and your lower lip matches the curve of your upper teeth.

“You’ll feel the edges of your upper front teeth gently touching your lower lip,” says Garcia, president of the American College of Prosthodontists. Your cheeks may rise a bit, but not too much. It’s the opposite of the quick smile that flashes across your face when you see an old friend. That kind of jumping-for-joy smile makes your eyes squint and your neck muscles tense — which can make for an awkward-looking photo.

Smile Tip #2: Nix the Double Chin

More worried about your chin than your smile? It’s all about posture. “If you slouch or your head is too bent forward, you won’t like how your smile looks,” says Pamela McClain, DDS. She recommends turning your head slightly and dropping your chin so your face is not completely square with the camera.

Smile Tip #3: Make Lipstick Your Friend

If you are a woman, select a lipstick that works with your skin tone. “The right shade of lipstick can make teeth look whiter,” Garcia says. Shades like cherry red, wine, berry, plum, or rosy pink are your best bet. The blue-based or pink-based undertones will minimize any yellowish tones in your teeth.

On the other hand, Garcia says that the wrong color, especially one that’s too dark or too red, can detract from your smile. (Psst. Lipstick sticking to your teeth? Might be a sign of dry mouth or excess plaque.)

Smile Tip #4: Work With What You Have

You don’t need perfect teeth to have a camera-worthy smile. Just look at Tom Cruise and his off-center ivories. Garcia points out that the line between his two front teeth, which should line up with the center of his nose, is off to one side. It’s a rather obvious fluke but when Cruise smiles, few people notice it.

Smile Tip #5: Prime Your Teeth and Gums

Getting your teeth and gums camera-ready requires a bit of behind-the-scenes preparation.

If your teeth have yellowed with age, you might take time to try a whitening product from the pharmacy or visit your dentist. Correcting cracked, broken, or missing teeth will likely mean some time with a dental professional.

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