Marking the start of National Smile Month, new research from Unum Dental has found that just 28 per cent of people smile with their teeth showing in photos for work, such as work passes and LinkedIn profile pictures. The research found that one of the most popular reasons for not smiling in work photos was because people don’t like their smile / teeth (28 per cent), whilst around a quarter feel it looks less professional, and almost 1 in 10 (8%) were told not to by their workplace.

The YouGov survey found that women workers are more likely to smile with their teeth showing at work (34 per cent) than men (22 per cent). However, in contrast, women are less confident about their smiles, with a third of those who do not smile in work photos, stating they don’t like their smile / teeth versus less than a quarter of men.

How a person feels about their teeth can greatly impact their confidence, with three quarters of employees agreeing that having bad teeth would negatively affect their confidence at work. Additional research from Unum also shows that teeth are the first thing employers notice about a person. Despite this, 64 per cent of workers admit to avoiding going to the dentist, with cost being the biggest barrier: a third of people say it’s because it is too expensive. Whilst it is commonly thought that people are scared of going to the dentist, Unum’s research found that just 14 per cent of workers are scared that it will be painful, although 13 per cent have been put off by having a bad experience previously.

Andrew Bower, Unum Dental Managing Director said:

“As we mark the beginning of National Smile Month, it’s surprising to see that less than a third of us smile in work photos. Whilst we can all relate to the awkward moment when you have to grin and bear it for a work photo, smiling can actually make you feel and appear happier and more confident in the workplace, so it’s really important that companies help their employees stay on top of their dental care. Insurance is a tangible way to show they’re a company that cares and in addition to supporting an employee’s overall wellbeing, it can help to reduce the economic impact of sickness absence.”

3 reasons to smile about corporate dental insurance:

  1. Help avoid sickness absence: according to the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, around 415,000 people miss at least one day at work every year because of oral health problems, costing the UK economy an estimated £36.6m.
  2. Take the pain out of financial worries: treatment cost is a key concern for workers, but dental insurance helps to manage the cost, explaining why it’s one of the most popular flexible employee benefits in the UK workplace.
  3. Prevent serious illness: More than 45 per cent of UK adults are affected by gum disease – which can lead to other more serious health problems – yet in our survey less than 10 per cent of people were concerned about this issue. Regular check-ups help prevent problems developing and promote better oral health.






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.