Just in time for tomorrow’s presidential debate comes word that the brightness of political candidates’ teeth actually impacts their election success.
In a study sponsored by the makers of an oral whitening product, researchers analyzed photos taken of past presidential candidates on the campaign trail, and concluded that there is a correlation between teeth whiteness and electability.
The study compared the relative whiteness of past candidate’s teeth, keeping it an “even playing field” by adjusting the color of photos taken over the years to control for changes in ambient lighting and environmental conditions. Photos going back to 1992 showed that the candidate with the whiter teeth won the election.
When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he had a much whiter smile than incumbent President George H.W.Bush. Clinton, of course, won -- and did the same four years later against Bob Dole, who had a less bright smile. In 2000, George W. Bush had a smile just slightly whiter than that of Al Gore -- perhaps a portent of the narrow victory Bush would claim that November. But, four years later, President Bush had a decidedly brighter smile than that of Sen. John Kerry.
What’s the verdict for 2012? At the time of the study, researchers declared President Barack Obama’s teeth to be slightly brighter than those of Mitt Romney. Of course, thanks to modern dentistry’s remarkable whitening treatments, that could change overnight -- literally -- for either candidate.