Mirror, mirror on the wall – Nik Sisodia Ten Dental

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  Posted by: Dental Design      7th January 2020

For most of us, the temptation to sneak a peek at our reflection when we pass a shop window or a mirror in a hallway is too great to resist. Maybe you even check yourself out in the car visor mirror occasionally. These aren’t only female behaviours, as men are just as guilty as women, if not more so, of taking a quick sideways glance at their reflection when they get the chance.[i]One might argue that there has been a wider societal increase in vanity, but perhaps the compulsion – and obsession in some cases – to assess our reflection is more entrenched within our culture and psyche than we would care to admit or even realise.

The average adult man in the UK will spend 56 minutes looking at his own reflection every day, whereas British women spend just 43.5 minutes doing so on an average day. Some beauty experts refer to this new breed of preening males as “reflectors” because they spend so much time checking themselves out.[ii]In fact, one survey found that men look at their reflection 23 times a day, while women glance at theirs just 16 times a day. Interestingly, the women who took part in this survey revealed that they look in the mirror to check their appearance and scrutinise physical features they feel insecure about. Men, on the other hand, admire the body parts they like best, which may be why they are rated as the vainer sex according to figures released by Univia.[iii],[iv]

Reflect on history

Mirrors have been a source of intense human fascination for thousands of years. One Greek myth tells the tale of a beautiful man, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. As the legend goes, Narcissus grew increasingly thirsty, but refused to leave or drink the water for fear he would lose sight of his reflection. Suffice it to say, he eventually died from wasting away and later inspired the modern term “narcissism”. While Shakespeare frequently used mirrors as a literary trope in much of his work, some ancient societies believed mirrors reflected one’s soul, which is why Bram Stoker’s Dracula has no reflection in the mirror and hence no soul. 

It was and still is a common practice to cover up all the mirrors in the house when someone has died, as this is thought to prevent the soul of the deceased from being trapped in the mirror. The amount of bad luck brought about by breaking a mirror supposedly dates back to the Romans, who believed that life renewed itself every seven years. As such, damaging a mirror was tantamount to harming your health and bringing about a disaster that would not be fully righted until the next seven-year lifecycle had passed. To this day, breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck. Irrespective of culture, creed or time, it seems we humans have always had a desire to share our reflection and perception of self.

Who’s the fairest of them all?

Today, technology enables people to share their image any time with anyone. This so-called “selfie culture” is not a novel concept – artists have shared their self-portraits for centuries, only these images are exhibited in galleries rather than on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram. Some experts believe that modern selfie culture is partially driving the rise in male and female vanity and narcissism, as people have grown more used to celebrating – and critiquing – their appearance. Essentially, the world is a mirror and many people are constantly looking for affirmation. In fact, some psychologists argue that “selfitis” – defined as a genuine psychiatric condition where individuals feel compelled to continually post pictures of themselves on social media – may be linked to other mental disorders such as BDD (body dysmorphic disorder).[v],[vi]

Dental applications

As a dental professional, you are likely to meet some patients that have such a negative rapport with their self-image that they seek to improve the way they look through cosmetic dentistry. Mirrors can have practical and positive applications within the dental practice, which can be supported by clinical photos and videos that offer a different perspective to patients. This not only serves as a means to help encourage patients to appreciate their physical features, but also as a discussion point on the limitations of treatment, so that you are better able to manage patients’ expectations. In addition, photos and videos can be used to demonstrate the benefits cosmetic dentistry can have on enhancing a patient’s appearance in a minimally invasive way. Although you may not have the facilities or expertise to provide cosmetic dental treatment for more complex problems, referring patients to a trusted clinic like Ten Dental+Facial could be a viable alternative. 

Our reflections are more powerful than we might think. There are many people who struggle with such low self-esteem that they find it difficult just glancing in the mirror. Dental professionals can boost patients’ self-image and self-confidence by helping them achieve a healthy and beautiful smile. One of the ways clinicians can ensure satisfaction with treatment is by creating as positive a mirror experience as possible for patients. At the very least, mirrors can be a force for positive thinking of one’s own image.


For more information visit www.tendental.comor call on 020 33932623



[i]Rossington, B. (2015) Modern men ARE more vain than women, survey shows. Mirror. Link: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/modern-men-more-vain-women-7032046. [Last accessed: 09.10.19].

[ii]Betta Living. (2014) Is male vanity at an all-time high in the UK? Link: https://www.bettaliving.co.uk/blog/articles/2014/02/is-male-vanity-at-an-all-time-high-in-the-uk/. [Last accessed: 09.10.19].

[iii]ava-j. (2018) Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the vainest of them all – Men or Women? Link: https://www.avaj.co.uk/2018/01/23/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/. [Last accessed: 09.10.19].

[iv]Univia. (2019) You’re So Vain (You Probably Think This Study’s About You). Link: https://www.univia.com/home/perceptions-of-vanity. [Last accessed: 09.10.19].  

[v]Balakrishnan, J. and Griffiths, M. D. (2018) An Exploratory Study of “Selfitis” and the Development of the Selfitis Behavior Scale. Int J Ment Health Addiction. 16: 722-736. Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9844-x. [Last accessed: 09.10.19].

[vi]Khanna, A. and Sharma, M. K. (2017) Selfie use: The implications for psychopathology expression of body dysmorphic disorder. Industrial Psychiatry Journal26(1): 106–109. DOI: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_58_17. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5810159/. [Last accessed: 09.10.19].


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