A smile is more than just a sign of happiness. Did you know it can also improve your health and the moods of those around you?
In this blog post, we’ll review the health benefits of smiling, how your oral health impacts your smile, and some ways to add more smiling to your life.
Learn the 7 awesome benefits of smiling
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Reduces stress and tension in muscles
- Boosts your immune system
- Lowers your heart rate
- Decreases feelings of depression or aggression
- Increases your likability and approachability
- Improves your mood
What happens when you smile?
It doesn’t take much to smile, but the chain reaction it sets off has lasting effects not only on you, but on those around you. Let’s take a look.
Brain and body
Smiling activates neuropeptides in the brain, which directly affect our ability to fight off stress. Neuropeptides are molecules in the brain that are kind of like mail carriers — they help our neurons communicate and deliver messages about how we’re feeling to the rest of the body.
When you flash a smile or see someone else smiling at you, it also triggers the release of the body’s feel-good chemicals into the bloodstream: endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.
Specifically, the release of serotonin into the brain serves as a natural antidepressant and mood booster, making you feel more positive.
Endorphins and dopamine on the other hand, are tied to our feelings of stress and pain. The release of these chemicals into the body helps to ease stress by soothing inflamed muscles, lowering the heart rate, and decreasing blood pressure.
Did you know that stress and depression weakens the immune system? Studies have shown that experiencing feelings of stress or depression for even just a few days can dramatically impact the production of our immunity-boosting and infection-fighting cells.
We know that when we smile, our brain releases serotonin and dopamine — both chemicals known to increase feelings of happiness and decrease depression. One study even suggests that smiling helps us live longer.
People treat you differently when you smile. Research suggests that the simple act of smiling makes you appear younger, more attractive, friendly, and reliable. The more approachable you are, the more people will be drawn to talking to you.
One 2011 study asked subjects to rate smiling and attractiveness. The results showed that both men and women were more attracted to people who smiled than to those who did not.
Smiling more can also impact your productivity at work and increase your chance for promotion.
You’ve probably heard the term “smiling is contagious.” And it’s true — smiling has been scientifically proven to be contagious. In fact, research suggests that most facial expressions are contagious. We mimic the facial expressions we see in an attempt to better understand the person we’re looking at, and to fit in.
So the next time you smile at someone, consider that you could be setting off a chain reaction of positivity — not only will you feel happier when you see a smile reflected back at you, but others will feel happier as they smile, too.
Common oral health problems that affect your smile
Not only does your oral health affect your overall health — it also impacts your smile. If you are experiencing a dental problem or are self-conscious about the way your smile looks, you are more likely to try to hide your smile, or not smile at all.
Here are a few common dental problems that affect your smile:
- Toothaches — Make it hurt to smile
- Gum disease — Impact how your smile looks and can lead to loose teeth
- Missing teeth — Affect the way you hold your mouth and the stability of the jaw
- Crooked teeth — Misalign your bite and make you feel self conscious when smiling
- Stained teeth — Make you self-conscious when smiling
- TMJ disorder — Cause pain or stiffness when smiling due to muscle and joint inflammation
If you are experiencing any of these dental problems, reach out to us and find out how we can help.
Easy tips for smiling more
Tip #1: If you don’t like your smile, consider dental treatments
There are a lot of things your dentist can do to help if you are hurting or feeling self-conscious about your smile. Here are a few common dental problems and their corresponding treatments:
|Missing teeth||Implants, bridges, or dentures|
|Discolored teeth||Cosmetic dentistry, like teeth whitening, dental veneers|
|Crooked teeth||Braces or Invisalign|
Here at Cedar Village Dentistry, we don’t want anyone to miss out on the positive health benefits that come from smiling! Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.
Tip #2: Practice self care
You don’t have to book an expensive massage or go on a luxurious vacation to practice self-care. Self-care can be as simple as carving out some time to read 10 pages of your favorite book, taking a bubble bath, or sitting down for 5 minutes of meditation.
The goal here is to do the things that help you feel more relaxed and at ease — when you are, you’ll smile more.
Tip #3: Surround yourself with positive people
Don’t take this one literally while we are going through the COVID-19 pandemic, but in general, it’s good to have a close community of positive people in your life. Their positivity will rub off on you and encourage you to reframe challenges you face in a more positive light. If you constantly interact with negative people, their negative thoughts will bring you down.
Tip #4: Maintain good oral hygiene
Good oral hygiene habits are a simple way to keep your smile healthy and beautiful. A basic oral hygiene routine includes:
- Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes
- Flossing daily
- Using a mouthwash
- Avoiding sugary and/or acidic drinks
- Visiting your dentist every 6 months for regular cleanings and exams
Tip #5: Try smiling for 1-2 minutes a day
This one might seem weird, but the simple practice of smiling for a few minutes each day can put you in a good mood. And interestingly, research suggests the smile doesn’t even need to be a real smile for you to reap the benefits! A fake smile can work just as well at boosting your mood.
Dr. Dooley graduated from the University of Kentucky School of Dentistry and went on to complete IV Sedation training at Miami Valley Hospital and a Fellowship at Midwest Implant Institute. As an enthusiastic dentist with comprehensive dental expertise, Dr. Dooley is proud to combine modern techniques and high-tech equipment to provide personalized and comfortable care to his patients