Can Bad Teeth Hurt Your Job Interview?

February 04, 2019

When interviewing for a job or considering a career change, appearance is important. Not just the clothes worn for the interview or the hairstyle, but an applicant's smile.

Everyone interviewing for a position knows it's best to make eye contact and smile often. But for people with broken teeth, or teeth that are discolored, crooked, or missing, smiling at your interviewer can prove awkward. Hearing the dreaded, "thank you for your interest" is even worse.

On the other hand, covering your mouth while talking during an interview isn't a good option; unless you are applying for a job as a ventriloquist. Even then, the job screener would be watching your mouth to see if they can see your lips move. 

Research has shown that people with good looking teeth have a much better chance of getting hired over someone with visibly bad oral health. This is especially true for customer service and good entry-level jobs.

"If you want to portray someone as being wicked, they have missing front teeth. If they're ignorant, they have buck teeth," says Susan Hyde, a dentist at the University of California at San Francisco. "Even from a very early age, we associate how one presents their oral health with all kinds of biases that reflect some of the social biases that we have."

An Israeli study involving the digital manipulation of teeth on pictured subjects further supports what Dr. Hyde found. First impressions showed that thise with crooked, discolored, or missing teeth were believed to be undesirable. They were viewed as having limited intelligence, bad parents, being less professional, of a lower social class, lacking social skills, and less attractive.

Althought the U.S. is one of the leading nations for dental innovations, many Americans of all age groups suffer from poor oral health. This is due to lacking dental insurance and a shortage of dentists in some areas. A 2012 report from the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging showed that 43% of the population, or 130 million people, have no dental coverage.

Beginning in January, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees dental care for children, but not for adults. With millions of Americans still unemployed oy underemployed, the best opportunity for adults without coverage may be purchasing their own dental insurance or discount dental plans.

"Many people tend to focus on fixing the things about themselves they think will have the biggest impact, often overlooking one of the most impressionable, physical attributes like their teeth," said Timothy A. Mack, senior vice president of business development for Align Technology, maker of Invisalign.

It's important to have good oral health for a number of reasons. In today's society, your career may depend on it.