Brits struggle to raise a smile before 9am

14 June 2016
  • More than a third of people don’t smile at strangers before 9am
  • This is despite research indicating that smiling has the potential to make a positive impact on a person’s mood 
  • Newcastle shows off their pearly whites the most while Glaswegians smiles the least
  • Closing National Smile Month, Bupa calls on the nation to be more public in its smiles, boosting health and wellbeing 
women talking

Bupa UK reveals that more than a third of people (36%) never smile at a stranger before 9am and of those that do, only one in three people (34%) smile once a day.

As National Smile Month draws to a close, research also shows that a smile from a stranger has more impact than good weather when it comes to Brits raising a smile.

People in Newcastle share the most smiles, with a third (33%) smiling at a stranger at least once a day before 9am.  This is in contrast to Belfast and Glasgow, where only 12% and 13% of people offer up a smile.

The main reasons people hold back are a lack of confidence and feeling awkward, therefore making smiles a private affair. More than one in ten people (12%) said feeling self-conscious about their teeth stopped them from smiling at strangers.

This research comes as Bupa UK looks to raise awareness of how a genuine smile has the potential to lift your mood and improve peoples’ capacity for dealing with stressful situations

Dr Steve Preddy, Clinical Dental Director Bupa UK, says, “It’s not just how a smile looks, it’s the feeling it gives you. Early mornings may not be everyone’s favourite time, but smiling puts you in the right frame of mind to address the working day.

“As a dentist, I care about people’s broader wellbeing and teeth can give you a real insight into a person’s mental state. Good dentists can identify underlying issues like anxiety, with teeth grinding and surface cracks an indicator of stress. That’s why I encourage regular check-ups, to give people the confidence they need to smile every day.”

Seeing something funny (20%) and receiving a compliment (11%) are further reasons for smiling before work. While, women offer more smiles to strangers on a weekly basis than men, and 45-54 year olds give the most smiles each day.

Notes to editor

 About the research

*The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,001 respondents aged 16+ in GB between 20 and 23 May 2016. The survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of UK adults. Censuswide abide by the code and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

About National Smile Month

National Smile Month (16 May to 16 June) is run by the Oral Health Foundation, a leading national charity working to improve oral health. Their goal is to improve people’s lives by reducing the harm caused by oral diseases, which are often entirely preventable.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

For more information, visit

Share this

Contact Bupa Press Office

If you're a journalist and would like to find out more about any of our activity, or request a comment from one of our spokespeople, please contact the Bupa Press Office via one of the below