You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

September 25, 2017 | Dr. Jason McMillan

Little Orphan Annie was onto something when she belted out that old, familiar adage, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile.” As a dentist, I’ve dedicated countless years of my life to getting educated and teaching others about the science behind maintaining a healthy smile, but little Annie clearly understood that the secret power in a smile lies far beyond the clinical aspects. Smiling is so ingrained in the human condition that 3-D ultrasounds show developing babies smiling even before birth. However, as we age, many of us lose our unabashed approach to smiling. Research has shown that while children smile up to 400 times a day, adults only smile on average 20 times a day. Why is this important you may ask?

Fringe Benefits of Smiling

Most folks know by now that smiling offers numerous benefits. Smiling can make a person appear more likeable, courteous, and even more attractive. In a study performed by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, subjects were asked to rate smiling and attractiveness. They found that both men and women were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled more than those who did not (1). A University of Pittsburgh study also revealed that the more intense the individual’s smile, the more trustworthy they seemed to others.

Smiling can lift the mood of those around you. Humans are social creatures by nature and if one person is the recipient of another individual’s smile, we are wired to mimic that expression. We’ve all experienced the contagiousness of a smile firsthand. When someone smiles at you, it is a natural response to smile in return. Go ahead and give it a whirl by gracing perfect strangers with your broadest smile. You will find that the majority of them will grin right back.

Smiling can make you more creative. Happier people have also been found to have better problem solving skills according to a 2013 study from the University of California, San Francisco. The study cites the release of dopamine which is triggered by joy and smiling in improving the ability to focus and think outside the box.

Your Brain on Smiles

If looking more attractive, improving the mood of others and being more creative doesn’t give you enough incentive to exercise your smile a bit more, perhaps a better brain will. Did you know that facial expressions can actually change the brain’s wiring? A smile sends positive signals to the brain. Research has shown that, the more often you send those happy signals, the more adept the brain gets at making positive patterns and not negative ones. It makes perfect sense when you think about how smiling can impact a person’s chemistry. A smile helps the release of neuropeptides that can ward off stress (2). Additionally, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when you smile (3). This can serve as a natural mood lifter, relaxing your body, and potentially lowering your heart rate and blood pressure as well. A steady dose of these feel good messages can be beneficial to the brain and your overall health.

10 out of 10 Dentists Recommend More Smiling

It seems only fitting to kick off Mint Dental Work’s new foray into the blogging world with the foundation of the dental profession – smiles. You’ve most certainly heard dentists make a litany of recommendations to keep your smile radiant like eating right, regular cleanings and flossing; however, it is just as critical to your health that you exercise that smile regularly. So as you kick off your morning hygiene rituals, let little orphan Annie’s words resonate and inspire you to look and feel your sharpest with a smile! 🙂

  1. Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research Phil TransR Soc B June 12, 2011
  2. 366: 1638-1659.Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258
  3. 4. R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.),Cognitiveneuroscienceof emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.