The aim of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Oro-facial Esthetic Scale among Chinese-speaking patients. The original Oro-facial Esthetic Scale was cross-culturally adapted in accordance with the international standards to develop a Chinese version (OES-C). Unlike the original Oro-facial Esthetic Scale, the version employed in this study used a 5-point Likert scale with items rated from unsatisfactory to most satisfactory. Psychometric evaluation included the reliability and validity of the OES-C. The reliability of the OES-C was determined through internal consistency and test–retest methods. The validity of OES-C was analysed by content validity, discriminative validity, construct validity and convergent validity. The corrected item-total correlation coefficients of the OES-C ranged from 0·859 to 0·910. The inter-item correlation coefficients between each two of the eight items of the OES-C ranged from 0·766 to 0·922. The values of ICC ranged from 0·79 (95% CI = 0·54–0·98) to 0·93 (95% CI = 0·87–0·99), indicating an excellent agreement. Construct validity was proved by the presence of one-factor structure that accounted for 83·507% of the variance and fitted well into the model. Convergent validity was confirmed by the association between OES-C scores and self-reported oral aesthetics and three questions from the Oral Health Impact Profile related to aesthetics (correlation coefficients ranged from −0·830 to −0·702, P < 0·001). OES-C scores discriminated aesthetically impaired patients from healthy controls. This study provides preliminary evidence concerning the reliability and validity of the OES-C. The results show that the OES-C may be a useful tool for assessment of oro-facial esthetics in China.