A smile seems like a simple thing. But really, the act of smiling is way more powerful than it usually gets credit for.
Did you know that smiling more often can have a big impact on your feelings of happiness, your self esteem, and your overall health?
In this blog post, we’ll review some of the benefits of smiling (especially during a world-wide pandemic), and ways we can help keep your smile healthy here at The Winning Smile Dental Group.
Benefits of smiling
We’ve all had one of those typical “off” mornings where nothing seems to be going our way. You stub your toe on the way out the door, get caught in traffic on the way into work, and then spill your coffee.
But without fail, when I’m greeted by a huge smile from a coworker or patient, or when I see my kids smiling, before I know it I’m smiling, too and my day is turned around.
It’s true — smiling is scientifically proven to make you feel happier. But what else can it help with?
Elevates your mood
Not only does smiling make you look happy, it actually makes you feel happy, too. When you smile, the muscles in your face trigger a chemical reaction that releases these “feel-good” neurotransmitters into your body:
Put simply, endorphins make you feel happy and relaxed. Plus, they can act as a natural pain reliever, which helps the body in times of discomfort or stress.
Smiling also releases the chemicals dopamine and serotonin, both of which lift your mood and acts as a natural antidepressant.
Stress affects all of us, whether we like it or not. Luckily, smiling is one easy way to help reduce it.
When we smile, whether it’s real or fake, it starts a chemical reaction in our brains. This reaction releases hormones, including serotonin, which helps lower stress levels.
Smiling also lowers your heart rate and decreases anxiety levels, both of which are usually increased during times of stress. So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, try smiling — even if it doesn’t feel better at the moment, it should help you recover from your stress faster.
Boosts your immune system
Whether you’re smiling for real or faking it until you make it, we now know that the simple act of smiling leaves us feeling more positive, less depressed, and reduces our stress.
These are all things studies have shown to make our bodies more resilient to sickness like the cold and flu. In one study, more than 300 volunteers were given the common cold. Those participants who reported feeling happier, more positive emotions before being exposed to the virus were found to have a reduced risk of developing the sickness.
One study even suggests smiling increases our longevity!
It’s contagious (in a good way!)
When someone looks at you and smiles, do you smile back? I know whenever I catch one of my daughters, a neighbor, or even a stranger smiling at me, I can’t help but smile in return. That’s because smiling is scientifically contagious.
This happens because of a reaction called facial mimicry. When you smile at someone, their brain registers the smile and reflects it back to you. Studies have shown that we do this to recognize and relate to the person, and react effectively.
So not only does smiling boost your mood, it can boost the mood of basically anyone around you, starting a positive feedback loop of smiling, feeling happier, and smiling more. Your one smile could spread countless smiles over the course of the day! Pretty cool, right?
The importance of a healthy smile
You might be thinking, “You’re a dentist, of course you think a healthy smile is important!” This is true — but dentists aren’t the only ones touting the importance of a healthy smile. Scientists, psychologists, and even recruiters all agree: a healthy smile is good for you.
Smiling impacts your appearance and confidence
Did you know smiling is known to make you look younger? It also causes people to think you are more friendly, relaxed, and approachable. This information can be useful in a variety of situations, from remembering to smile in a job interview or when trying to make new friends.
Not only that, but your self esteem can be impacted by your smile. Smiling freely might make you seem more warm and open to others, and they will want to be around you because of this. But hiding your smile can lead to people leaving you alone.
Oral health is connected to overall health
Your oral health is a window to your overall health. Research shows that an unhealthy mouth is directly connected to a variety of diseases and conditions later on in life, including:
- Heart disease
If your mouth becomes infected and is left untreated, your dentist may have to try to save the tooth. Usually this requires more serious treatments, like a dental crown or gum therapy, or even extracting teeth.
That’s why I like to focus on preventive measures. Preventing and diagnosing dental issues as they arise is crucial to maintaining good oral health and overall health.
How to keep your smile healthy
Regardless of whether you feel your smile is healthy now, or think it needs some work, I’m dedicated to working with my patients to achieve the healthy smile of their dreams. But, there are also some easy things you can do at home to work towards a healthy smile:
Practice a good oral hygiene routine
- Brush your teeth twice per day
- Floss daily
- Consider using a mouthwash
- Clean your tongue
Incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid sugary or acidic drinks
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Quit smoking
I like to remind my patients to get their teeth cleaned twice per year. Even if you brush twice per day, there are still areas you can’t reach and plaque you can’t remove from simply brushing.
Smiling is important — even if it’s hidden by a mask
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our smiles are often hidden behind a mask. But that’s no reason to stop smiling!
Smiling affects your whole face. It’s reflected in your eyes and your body language. And as we’ve learned, smiling will help relieve stress (something we’re all struggling with in these uncertain times!) and is good for your immune system!
Don’t stop smiling just because you’re wearing a mask. The people around you will be able to see your smile in your eyes, hear it in your voice, and feel it in your mood.
The Winning Smile Dental Group can help
I believe a personalized plan is key. From our first appointment through ongoing care, I will work with you to learn what’s going on with your mouth and create a plan that will help boost both your health and your smile.
And even though right now you can’t see our faces too well under all our personal protective equipment, know that we’re smiling under our masks and are so happy to see you in our office.
Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
Dr. Lewis is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. She’s a member of the American Dental Association, the Mississippi Dental Association, the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Lewis is known for providing high-quality, comfortable care, while giving you a smile you’ll be proud to share with the world!