This study wanted to look at the qualitative and quantitative evidence of the current literature regarding the impact of dental appearance on employability.
- Physical appearance in social and professional situations is well known to be of importance.
- There is unquestionable evidence that ‘facial attractiveness’ can influence unrelated personal characteristics.
- Judgements are subconsciously made in as little as 100 milliseconds.
- Not smiling can also negatively affect someone’s ratings- and women suffer a greater negative impact.
- In the last 50 years, OH care has improved all around the world, so in turn we’ve seen a rise in the standard and the socially-accepted dental appearance- this includes missing, discoloured or misaligned teeth less and less.
- The changing importance of a good dental appearance is also swayed by television makeover shows and social media.
- Cosmetic dentistry was the ‘most desired non-surgical cosmetic treatment’ in 2018 (UK).
Reasons why poor dental appearance may negatively affect someone’s employability opportunities:
- Difficulty talking, smiling or laughing (due to embarrassment)
- Low confidence
- Interviewers quickly make less favourable judgements
Long term employment can indirectly decrease the risk of depression, cardiovascular disease and a myriad of other diseases. It would therefore make sense for the UK ‘return to work’ programmes to include help for access to dental care.
- Scoping review
- PRISMA flow diagram:
- Search engines/databases used: Google, Google Scholar, PsychINFO, Social Policy and Practice, Embase and Medline via Ovid- 982 studies identified
Results: Looking into various different studies, here were some findings:
- A one-point increase in the ‘Dental Problem index’ was associated with a 7.7% reduction in being employed (controlled= age, gender, marital status, education, poverty and health status)
- Malocclusion negatively impacted perception of intelligence, but not of honesty and work efficiency
- Dental appearance assumptions- related to drug use, needing time off work.
- Characteristics that are perceived more negatively: intelligence, education, trustworthiness, laziness, reliability, sociability and friendliness.
- In Canada- recipients of an employment-assistance programme were offered free basic dental care- employment outcomes were not significantly different 12 months after.
- ‘Job- seeking self-efficacy’* increased after dental care
*self-confidence and willingness to make applications and attend interviews
- A wide range of study types were found however few directly addressed the question of interest.
- All relevant studies reported negative bias on ‘work-related personal characteristics’
- Only 1 of the 3 studies that specifically investigated impact of DENTAL TREATMENT on employment reported any evidence of benefits.
- Benefits of dental treatment seem to be related more to the increased confidence rather than directly related to being employed.
- Further evidence such as from an RCT is needed
- Further research is needed to provide sufficient evidence of the employability benefits that programmes to improve dental appearance can provide
- However, from another perspective- this programme could be justified already in terms of ‘reducing health and social inequalities and capacity to benefit from publicly funded healthcare’
Nicole Hasoon BDS4