Do dental aesthetics affect employment prospects?

The study shows the importance of having an attractive and healthy smile during the job application process and demonstrates the prejudices that applicants with poor dental health face. There is an urgent need to raise awareness for this issue.
See UK Results See International Results

Our Study

At PlusDent, we encounter people who deal with insecurities caused by inaccessible dental care on a daily basis. For some industries, appearances largely influence whether or not jobseekers get the role. The global economic slowdown in the context of the pandemic has destabilized numerous sectors and put millions out of work.

COVID-19 has destabilised numerous sectors of the job market, which has led to an increase in unemployment across the globe. In the UK, more than 600,000 people have lost their jobs since March 2020 and nearly 9,000,000 people are currently on the government's furlough scheme, officially called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Once the furlough scheme ends in October 2020, millions of people could face redundancy and could be forced to re-enter the job market in order to stay afloat.(1) Compared to other sectors, the tourism industry is facing one of the most severe long-term consequences due to changing consumers attitudes on international travel. Covid-19 is estimated to cost the tourism industry £15bn in 2020, and with 22 million fewer visitors to the UK, thousands are forced to look into work in other industries to keep their head above water.(2) These estimates are even more alarming as tourism is a leading employer for vulnerable segments of population. Against this setting, we wanted to find out how much value a healthy smile contributes to candidates in the hiring process and raise awareness on the impact of dental care on self-esteem and sustenance. To carry out this study, we consulted scientifically proven research related to this topic. We looked for evidence that would examine the relationship between oral health and career opportunities. We concluded that access to modern dentistry correlates with social and economic aspects. This means that socially disadvantaged people with low incomes find it more difficult accessing good dental care. Poor dental health has a negative impact on people's job and career opportunities, which therefore reduces the chance of improving their own financial situation. The study results * include:

Smiling creates trust

Smiling is fundamental during social interaction in order to build trust. Applicants who do not smile due to low self-esteem can quickly be perceived as being distant and nervous. (3)

Dental health and socio-economic status

Socioeconomic status impacts a person’s dental treatment needs, with those from lower economic backgrounds exhibiting a greater need for treatment. This group are also less satisfied with their dental appearance and visited a dentist less frequently. (4)

Dental health and family home

Children whose parents work in the service sector or sales and have a lower income are less likely to receive orthodontic treatment than children whose parents are managers or professionals. The disadvantage also applies to children from rural areas. (5)

Dental health and social inequality

Dental health and income have an impact on one another. This means that an improvement in the socio-economic situation has more of a positive effect on general dental health as the policy can improve financial situations for individuals and therefore provide them with access to proper dental care. (6)
*All findings are paraphrased for ease of understanding. The exact quotes and sources can be found at the bottom of this page in the methodology.

Opinion Poll

Based on the above findings, our study illustrates how important access to modern dentistry is in today's society. It must be our common goal to give everyone access to dental care at the highest medical level. The currently prevailing problems and prejudices during the job application process need to be discussed and society made aware of this issue. It is not the aesthetics of the teeth, but the professional qualifications that should determine whether an applicant is hired for the position. Our survey consists of several questions, the answers to which can be used to deduce the kind of prejudice that applicants with poor dental health are faced with. A particular focus is on the professional fields of sales, care and telemarketing.

The evaluation of the survey confirms that certain prejudices against dental aesthetics prevail in certain industries. At PlusDent, we have made it our mission to make dentistry at the highest level accessible and affordable for everyone. High-quality dental care should not be available only to families with high incomes. Unfortunately, the study also showed that in today's society, dental health and access to orthodontic treatment are inextricably linked to socio-economic factors. This correlation also increases inequality in the global job market. We find ourselves in a downward spiral that continues to widen the gap between rich and poor, as well as good and poor dental health.

We are fighting this inequality of opportunity by removing access barriers to modern dentistry and aesthetic treatment. PlusDent's mission is to make high-quality, innovative dentistry accessible to everyone. In order to achieve first-class treatment results, we rely on the close collaboration with local dentists. We pass on the cost savings that we make, among other things due to the digitisation of the treatment process, directly to our patients by offering invisible dental treatment with our aligners at an affordable price. As a result, our medical device is not accessible only for people with a higher income, but to everyone.

Every year we help over 15,000 patients to fulfil their wish for beautifully straight teeth. We believe that good oral health and a beautiful smile should not depend on financial circumstances and not be for high-income groups of society only. Extensive feedback from our patients has taught us that straight teeth have not only had a positive effect on their general dental health, but have also raised their self-esteem and given them more self-confidence. They feel that their new smile has significantly improved their lives, they laugh much more often and more freely, and friends and family have also noticed the positive change. These positive psychological effects are also noticed during the job application process, as interviews seem more impartial. In this respect, it can be deduced that a healthy and beautiful smile can help us to succeed in a job interview.

- Eva-Maria Meijnen Managing Director PlusDental

Results from UK

How important is an attractive smile for an employee's performance in the specified roles below?

How important is an attractive smile within the industry for the perception of an applicant in an interview for the roles listed below?

Please review the images below of two candidates with otherwise equal qualifications

A

B

How likely are you to recommend Candidate A over Candidate B for a follow-up interview in the roles below?

International results

How important is an attractive smile for an employee's performance in the specified roles below?

Within the industry, how important is an attractive smile for the perception of a job applicant during an interview with the hiring manager in the roles specified below?

Please review the images below of two candidates with otherwise equal qualifications

A

B

How likely are you to recommend Candidate A over Candidate B for a follow-up interview in the roles below?

Methodology

The study consisted of a survey to determine whether applicants with poor dental aesthetics/oral health face prejudice during the job application process of various professional fields such as sales, care or telemarketing. It was shown to what extent such prejudices exist among those responsible for personnel in those professional fields mentioned. The survey was sent to 5,000 HR professionals worldwide. The results are based on a representative sample of 100 people surveyed in Germany, Spain, the USA, Great Britain and Switzerland, as well as a further 500 representative answers for the global results. Those surveyed for global results were based in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Those surveyed for the regional results came exclusively from the specified region.

Poll

The poll was sent to HR professionals via a Google Form poll in the time period between January 21st and February 10th 2020. The privacy policy for the poll was as follows:

Privacy Policy

The procedure involves filling a survey that will take approximately 2 minutes. Your participation in this study is voluntary: if you choose to participate in this survey, you may withdraw at any time. Your responses will be confidential, and we do not collect information identifying respondents such as name, email address, or IP address. The results of this study will be used for an awareness-focused research project on dental health. No single response will be analysed in isolation. The collected data will only be interpreted in aggregate and will be distributed in this form to the wider media. The results will be made available online for free to be used by HR/Recruiting professionals.

The questions posed to the respondents are exactly as written on the results above, along with the same image being used for the final question. More information on the poll questions can be found below.

Poll questions

1.   Country of residence

2.   Gender (Male, Female, Non-Binary, Prefer Not to Say) N.B. This question is included only to ensure we achieve the samples size required to model a representative population–we will not publish any breakdown of the results by gender.

3.   Age. N.B. This question is included only to ensure we achieve the samples size required to model a representative population–we will not publish any breakdown of the results by age.

4.   Involvement in the recruitment/hiring process (I am a recruiter working for a firm that helps other companies fill their job openings, I am part of an internal recruitment process helping team managers fill their job openings, I am responsible for hiring for my own team only, I am not responsible for recruiting or hiring, but I am part of the HR industry, I am not part of HR industry, Other). N.B. This question is included only to ensure we achieve the samples size required to model a representative population–we will not publish any breakdown of the results by professional role.

5.   Completed Education (Less than a high school diploma, High school degree or equivalent (e.g. GED), Some college, no degree, Associate degree (e.g. AA, AS), Bachelor’s degree (e.g. BA, BS), Master’s degree (e.g. MA, MS, MEd), Professional degree (e.g. MD, DDS, DVM), Doctorate (e.g. PhD, EdD). N.B. Non-required question.

6.   How important is an attractive smile for an employee's performance in the specified roles (Nurse, Programmer/IT Technician, Data Analyst/Statistician, Sales Representative, Business Management, Customer Service (face to face role), Telemarketing Role). Give your answer on a scale from 1 to 7 where 1 indicates "Not important at all" and 7 indicates "Very important".

7.   Within the industry, how important is an attractive smile for the perception of a job applicant during an interview with the hiring manager in the roles specified (Nurse, Programmer/IT Technician, Data Analyst/Statistician, Sales Representative, Business Management, Customer Service (face to face role), Telemarketing Role). Give your answer on a scale from 1 to 7 where 1 indicates "Not important at all" and 7 indicates "Very important".

8.   Please review the images below of two candidates with otherwise equal qualifications. How likely are you to recommend Candidate A over Candidate B for a follow-up interview in the roles (Nurse, Programmer/IT Technician, Data Analyst/Statistician, Sales Representative, Business Management, Customer Service (face to face role), Telemarketing Role). Give your answer on a scale from 1 to 7 where 1 indicates "Not important at all" and 7 indicates "Very important".

Respondents for the worldwide results were based in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Respondents for regional results were exclusively from the region stated.

Sources of findings:

1.     “UK jobless claims jumped 70% in April as the coronavirus hit employment“, CNBC, in: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/19/uk-jobless-claims-rise-by-70percent-in-april-to-2point1-million.html

2.     “UK jobless claims soaer by nearly 70% in April“, The Guardian, in: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/19/uk-jobless-april-coronavirus-crisis-unemployment-benefits

3.   “Smiling is frequently observed in social interactions between humans may be used as a signal of the intention to cooperate and build trust.“ Scharlemann, J., Eckel, C., Kacelnik, A. , Wilson, R. (2001) The value of a smile: Game theory with a human face. Journal of Economic Psychology 22

4.    “Subjects of low Socioeconomic Status (SES) exhibited greater normative and perceived treatment needs than subjects of higher SES. They were less satisfied with their dental appearance and visited a dentist less frequently.” Badran, S., Sabrah, A., Hadidi, S., Al-Khateeb, S. (2014) Effect of socioeconomic status on normative and perceived orthodontic treatment need. Angle Orthodontist, Vol 84, No 4

5.   “Children were less likely to have orthodontic treatment when parents were service or sales workers compared with children whose parents were managers or professionals, when family income was in the lowest, compared with highest quartile, when children had no supplementary insurance compared with children covered by private insurance, or when they lived in rural compared with urban areas.” Germa, A., Kaminski, M., Nabet, C. (2010) Impact of social and economic characteristics on orthodontic treatment among children and teenagers in France. Recherche épidémiologique en santé périnatale et santé des femmes et des enfants INSERM : U953, Université Pierre et Marie Curie.

6.   “The effect of education on income inequalities varied by oral health outcome, but income consistently explained over one third of the education effect on inequalities for the oral health outcomes used in thi study. This suggests that future social and economic policy aimed at improving financial and material resources for individuals would better reduce socio-economic inequalities in oral health than those solely targeted toward changing oral health behaviour or knowledge acquisition of healthy behaviour.” Farmer, J., Phillips, R., Singhal, S., Quiñonez, (2017) Inequalities in oral health: Understanding the contributions of education and income. Can J Public Health 2017;108(3):e240–e245 doi: 10.17269/CJPH.108.5929

Press and media enquiries

Are you a journalist looking for current information about PlusDent or about our study? For press releases, person of contact, image and video content or interviews, please contact us as: presse@plusdental.de. We will get back to you as soon as we can.