• Appearance;
  • dental disease;
  • socio-economic status;
  • facial characteristics

Objective: To ascertain whether dental appearance affects perceptions of personal characteristics among Chinese people living in the UK.

Design: Cross-sectional analytic interview study.

Setting: Public places frequented by Chinese people.

Participants: Quota sample of 165 Chinese adults living in the UK.

Methods: Each participant was asked to make judgements about the personal characteristics of the subject of a single colour photograph. Fifteen photographs were used of five different men each with three degrees of dental disease.

Main outcomes: Judgements of the adjustment and social and intellectual competence of the subjects of the photographs.

Results: Participants judged subjects with less dental disease to be better adjusted and more intellectually competent.

Conclusion: Dental appearance affected the judgements about some personal characteristics made by the Chinese people studied. Dental appearance may influence social interactions and contribute to social selection and the associations between health and socio-economic status.