Dentist Shares Reasons to Smile
As a dentist, I know a thing or two about smiles. After all, in my practice, I see dozens of them every day.
Beyond flashing bicuspids and incisors, a smile does more than show off good dental hygiene. Flexing the twenty-six tiny facial muscles that make up a smile can bring on surprising health benefits. So come with me on an extraordinary journey into the seven secret wonders of the smile.
Feel Better, Instantly
Okay, say you’re having a bad day. You just spilled that no-foam soy latte on your new silk blouse. Or your boss just dumped a mountain of paperwork on your desk. If you turn that frown upside down, a surprising thing happens: the physical act of smiling actually brings on a change of mood. Sure, smiling when you’re down seems like the last thing you want to do, but medical science has proven a positive change in mood occurs when your lips curve at the corners. So next time you’re feeling blue, put on a smile. You’ll be glad you did.
Bring Down Your Blood Pressure
If you’re like most Americans, your blood pressure could use a little lowering. And one good way is to smile and laugh. Breaking into a hearty laugh— which starts with a smile — can bring down blood pressure. How, you ask? The answer is simple. Laughing causes your heart rate to increase, immediately followed by a short period of muscle relaxation. This one-two punch decreases your overall heart rate and blood pressure, which is a proven way to better cardio and mental health. So crack both a joke, and a smile. Your heart will thank you.
Appear More Attractive
Have you ever noticed how a smile lights up a face? When you smile, you tell the world you’re happy, pleasant, and fun to be with. On the other hand, people who frown send the opposite signal – stay away! Studies have proven that those who frequently smile are perceived to be more likable, and have better relationships than those who don’t. And having better relationships is a cornerstone to better health. From happier marriages to relating better to others, a smile can open a world of happiness and wellbeing. So smile, and the world will smile with you.
The clock is ticking, and that report is due by end of day. Or, you have to give a speech in front of a roomful of strangers. Stressful situations like these bring on increased adrenaline fluttering heart rate. Fortunately, the simple act of smiling can help reduce stress by lowering your pulse and blood pressure, as chronicled in a 2012 study. Scientists discovered that the physical act of flexing the many tiny muscles that contribute to a smile actually countered the effects of stress on the heart and blood pressure. So next time you have to give a toast, or go on a blind date, flash the high
beams! A good smile goes a long way to calming the nerves.
Strengthen Your Immune System
They say laughter is the best medicine. Well, add smiling to your medicine cabinet— because together, smiling and laughing help enhance your immune system. According to a report from the Mayo Clinic, smiles and laughter release “signaling molecules” in your brain that help combat stress and disease. Imagine, the simple act of grinning can help fight off colds and other illnesses. And, of course, the opposite is true. Negative thoughts and angry impulses actually lower your body’s ability to fight disease. So banish the blues, and bring on a sunny disposition. And when the next cold and flu season comes around, arm yourself with your body’s built-in best defense… a bright smile.
Grin and Bear It
When something hurts, you want pain relief—fast! The first place you might turn is a bottle of aspirin or other analgesics. But there’s an alternative that’s both natural, and easy. You guessed it… your smile. Combined with laughter, your smile can help dull pain and bring immediate relief. The Mayo Clinic has reported that smiling and laughing releases your body’s own natural painkillers, which have no side effects, and no expiration date! Another recent study found that interactions that produce a smile and a laugh actually raise your tolerance for pain. A good laugh with a friend can make that toothache hurt a lot less. (Oh, and coming to me with a toothache would also be a smart way to reduce pain!)
Everyone wants to live longer and look younger. But if you think the fountain of youth is just a fairy tale, you might want to think again. A 2010 study shows that people who smile frequently and have positive emotions live happier, longer lives. Added benefits are more stable marriages, and a wider circle of friends. The mere act of smiling brings about a physical and chemical reaction that, as mentioned above, helps reduce stress, alleviate pain, and ward off disease. All of which contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan. So go ahead. Crack that smile. And make the most of every day.
Your Path to a Perfect Smile
Sure, it’s easy to smile when you have confidence in your teeth. But if you suffer from tooth decay, gum disease or other dental problems, sometimes it’s hard to flash the pearly whites.That’s why it’s so important to visit your dentist regularly. For basic dental hygiene, we recommend a visit twice a year. During that visit, we give your teeth a thorough cleaning, and scan for problems that may be brewing. If we do spot something, it’s so much easier, and effective, to address the problem early. Nobody wants a toothache — much less a root canal! So make a point of visiting your dentist regularly, and have the confidence to show off that big, beautiful smile. You’ll gain a myriad of health benefits with every smile.