Body Image Issues in Dental Medicine
H. ASUMAN KIYAK
This chapter focuses on the development and change of oral–facial body image. Children's development of overall body image, self-concept, and interpersonal skills is affected by the presence of dentofacial features that deviate from the normal range. How facial body image may change as a function of elective procedures, such as conventional and surgical orthodontics and the use of dental implants to replace natural teeth, is explored within this developmental framework.
It is widely recognized that facial attractiveness is a social asset that results in greater acceptance by others, including peers, teachers, and employers. Conversely, unattractive facial features can be a social liability that results in peer rejection, academic difficulties, and (later) employment problems. The concept of "what is beautiful is good" has been widely demonstrated in studies with raters and targets of all ages. Numerous studies have shown that preference for symmetrical facial features and teeth emerges in early childhood. By age 8, children appear to use the same criteria as adults for judging facial attractiveness. Teachers' academic expectations and evaluations of their students have been found to be correlated with their perceptions of each child's attractiveness. Both teachers and classmates rate physically attractive children as friendlier and more intelligent, even with no objective data on these characteristics!
Attractiveness continues to be a social asset in adulthood, for example, when employees who are judged to be more attractive are given better job performance ratings by their supervisors. Similarly, laypersons with no in-