How fake smiles make you feel better

We all know genuine smiles can go a long way. As it turns out, so can fake smiles.

A 2012 study called Grin and Bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response found “physiological and psychological benefits from maintaining positive facial expressions during stress.”

Those benefits include a lift in your mood, a lowering of your stress and a boost to your immune system.

The physical act of smiling, genuine or otherwise, causes a release of dopamine and serotonin into the brain. The former increases feelings of happiness, while the latter has been associated with reduced stress.

As for a fake smile’s effect on your immune system, that’s an interesting one.

Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how the brain is connected to the immune system. Evidence in that field clearly indicates that depression weakens your immune system, while happiness boosts it.

And Dr. Murray Grossan, an ENT-otolaryngologist in Los Angeles found that fake smiles can lead to the same results.

“What’s crazy is that just the physical act of smiling can make a difference in building your immunity,” says Dr. Grossan. “When you smile, the brain sees the muscle [activity] and assumes that humour is happening.” In other words, your immune system is a body reader, not a mind reader. It won’t question why you’re smiling.

How to effectively make fake smiles

A lot of advice in this field centres around thinking about the people in your life who make you happy. That’s one way of getting there, but it’s tough to do when things aren’t going well. Far too often, the positive thoughts are immediately followed by feelings of guilt or shame or anger or longing. And then those thoughts kill your smile.

So here’s an alternative. Forget about the people or the things. Think of a time you had a genuine belly laugh. Think about what made you laugh and how you laughed. And think about how hard you laughed (‘cause you probably remember). That image of you laughing will put a smile on your face and keep it there.

We took an informal survey around the office about belly laugh moments. One that stuck out to us was the first time we saw “There’s Something About Mary.” That got us thinking about our favourite scenes from the movie, like this one we can’t stop watching now.

If you really can’t think of anything to smile about….

Then get your smiling in while you’re brushing your teeth. You’re basically smiling already when you’re scrubbing your front teeth.

9 Toothpaste Life Hacks

When Colgate invented modern toothpaste in the 1950s, they were trying to create a significant advancement in at home oral care. But they got way more than that. Consider the following:

Fill thumbtack holes

Dab toothpaste onto the wall, then smooth it out with a playing card.

Relieve the itch from bug bites

A drop will cool the area down. Best to apply before bed (and after brushing) and leave it on overnight.

Toothpaste to clean shoes?

The cleaning agents in toothpaste can take out scuffs in leather and remove dirt from plastic or fabric. Squeeze a bit on the spot, scrub it in with a brush or sponge, then wipe it clean with a cotton towel.

Remove ink stains from your skin

Regular hand soap always leaves a hint of the ink on your hands. Toothpaste doesn’t — and you don’t need that much.

Wash out water rings on wood

Use a small amount, a damp cloth and a bit of time to buff gently (no serious elbow grease required). It may take a few rounds, but it’ll work. It’s best to test first on a less visible area if your piece of furniture is an antique.

Clean baby bottles

Instead of risking soap residue ingestion, use children’s toothpaste as it’s already been approved for kids to swallow.

Lift collar stains

Save the money you’d spend on to-go sticks. A brush and a bit of white toothpaste is all you need. Scrub the toothpaste in, rinse it out, then wash your shirt as you normally would.

Take crayon stains off painted walls

For anyone with kids, drawn-on walls are going to be a reality one day. Don’t panic. Dampen a cloth, run in some paste and scrub the wall. The crayon wax will come right out.

Extend the life of your iron

Your iron can develop a crust over time that can damage it, or even worse, your clothes. Use a little bit of paste and a cloth to clean the iron plate every so often.

Why smiling is contagious

Smiling isn’t so much contagious as it is an involuntary reaction known as mirroring — the act of matching a person’s facial expression.

Adrienne Wood, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, studies non-verbal communication; specifically, the way people communicate through facial expressions.

“In order to recognize the facial expressions and emotional expressions we see, we recreate what it feels like to do that facial expression,” said Wood. “We refer to that stimulation to understand what the person in front of us is feeling and what their intentions are. Then you know how to respond appropriately. This is all happening without you even thinking about it.”

This was backed up by another study by T.L. Kraft et al., who found that humans subconsciously “try on” each other’s expressions in order to understand how others are feeling. In essence, the contagiousness of smiling is our way of connecting with others and triggering the appropriate emotions in the moment.

Fake smiling

As it turns out, forcing a smile can actually change your emotions, according to a report by Psychology Today. If you’re not feeling your best on a particular day, the act of smiling can trigger your body to release dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – neurotranmitters that make you feel good – to elevate your mood. Some people have found that simply smiling at themselves in the mirror can achieve this result. And if the grin staring back at you is clean and healthy, it will make you feel even better about yourself… all the more reason to look after those pearly whites of yours!

How a healthy mouth leads to a better smile

Yes, taking good care of your teeth will make them look better. And you’ll smile bigger because you’ll be more confident. A healthy mouth also means better breath, so you won’t feel like you have to hold back a hearty “HA!”

A last word about contagious smiling

You’ve no doubt heard that 90% of human communication is non-verbal. Your gestures speak volumes about what you’re feeling and how you feel about the person you’re “not speaking” to. Smiling will go a long way to making every conversation more positive.

Yonge and Eglinton on a budget

Yonge and Eglinton has a reputation as one of the more posh areas of Toronto, but the area has its fair share of budget-conscious activities as well. If you’re looking for cheap and cheerful things to do, consider the following:

A walk through Greenwood Park

You can get into this massive green space at the east end of Greenwood Avenue, and the path will take you all the way up to Lawrence Avenue. You’ll find open areas for picnicking and frisbee, some fabulous off-leash dog areas and a ravine for exploring.

Wednesday comedy at Absolute Comedy

Tickets to the 8:30 pm Pro/Am show are only $8. The line-up features three to five local amateur comics and one or two of the professional weekend performers. Perhaps you’ll get to say you saw a future star way back when?

The Mandarin at Yonge and Eglinton

It’s hard to find better value than this classic Chinese buffet just south of Eglinton on the west side of Yonge. For just $27, you can eat as much as you want – and as far as Chinese food goes, it’s some of the best in the area and the kids will love it.

Pho King Fabulous!

It’s more than a great name – it’s great cheap food. For $10.50 you can get a massive bowl of delicious Vietnamese soup that’ll fill you up for the day. Find them at 2411 Yonge Street between Erskine and Broadway.

The Little Party Shoppe

If you’re looking for cheap gifts to put in loot bags or to bring to a soirée, this is the place to go. Most of what you’ll find is well-priced and you’ll find something for every theme. Be sure to visit them around Halloween – they definitely go all out for it.

Enjoy your visit to Yonge and Eglinton!

5 reasons to bring out-of-towners to Yonge and Eglinton

By all means, show your guests the CN Tower, Queen Street West, Casa Loma and Canada’s Wonderland, if you’ve got young ones staying with you. But save an afternoon for Yonge and Eglinton.

5. Yonge and Eglinton is a shining example of smart urban planning

Yonge and Eglinton is great for drivers, bikers, walkers, store owners, restaurateurs, professional service providers and dogs. And the best part is that you notice the features that make it so. The sidewalks and streets are wide, but there’s still an intimacy to the area. It doesn’t feel overwhelming: once you get north of Broadway, it’s almost all unique low-rise buildings.

4. The shopping’s great

You’ll find a few big boxes on the strip, but it’s by and large independent boutiques. And even the national names have a neighbourhood feel. The Roots store at Yonge and Lytton is one of the city’s best.

3. Strolls through the neighbourhood are awesome

Back to the urban planning thing again, the area’s full of beautiful, tree-lined streets, little green spaces and a giant park with a pretty perfect walking path through its ravine. Also, Yonge and Eglinton homeowners have great taste. You’ll see some amazing houses.

2. So. Much. Good. Food.

Every taste is represented here and it’s all delicious. You’ll find cheap and cheerful breakfast joints, 5-star dining at Marc McEwan’s North 44˚, Korean, Middle Eastern, Thai, Italian, French, Greek, Canadian and a new Poke place. Mmm.

1. The people

We’re really nice. Sure, people say that about Toronto in general, but it’s amplified at Yonge and Eglinton because people are genuinely happy to be here – and it comes through. Lots of big bright smiling around here. The shopkeepers get a lot of business. The restaurants are full. Foot traffic is pretty regular, but never overwhelming.

You won’t find Yonge and Eglinton in any guide books. And most people don’t think of it. But if you want to see the neighbourhood Toronto Life chose as the city’s best to live in, this is it.

Coming by subway? Get off at Eglinton Station on the #1 line.

The DMFT Index: Healthy primary teeth by country

For more than 80 years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) has been keeping stats on healthy primary teeth around the world. The purpose of this effort is to determine which countries are succeeding in promoting oral care so others can follow their lead.

To do this, they came up with the DMFT Index, which stands for Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth. The index score expresses the number of teeth out of 20 that fall into one of these three categories. The lower the score, the better a country is overall as it relates to healthy primary teeth.

Here are the results from the latest DMFT index:

10. France

DMFT Score: 1.2
You might think that chocolate croissants and crème brûlées would have a negative effect on oral health, but as it turns out that’s not the case at all.

9. United States

DMFT Score: 1.2
Grand slam breakfasts, apple pie and fast food hasn’t seemed to affect oral health in the US.

8. Mexico

DMFT Score: 1.1
They beat the US, which we’re sure makes them feel good.

7. Canada

DMFT Score: 1.0
Way to go, Canada! This means that only one tooth per child is at risk. Of course, we can all work together to get our collective score down and our ranking up. This starts with making sure to get our kids to the dentist twice a year.

6. Switzerland

DMFT Score: 0.9
Nothing neutral here. The Swiss take their health seriously and this is reflected in their high DMFT score.

5. Sweden

DMFT Score: 0.8
Sweden’s the first of three Scandinavian countries that made the top 10, which everybody expects given the quality of the region’s healthcare.

4. United Kingdom

DMFT Score: 0.8
This one shocks a lot people, given the British reputation for bad teeth.

3. Finland

DMFT Score: 0.7
Back to Scandinavia for #3 on the list and no surprise that it’s Finland. The Fins are very healthy people, and when winter hits in Helsinki, there’s not much else to do other than brush and floss.

2. Germany

DMFT Score: 0.5
Given the size of the population and the number of foreigners in Germany, this is a big win for them. Bigger still considering how decimated Germany was eight years ago when the DMFT scoring began.

1. Denmark – the number one country for healthy primary teeth

DMFT Score: 0.4
Congratulations to the Danes! Less than half a tooth per child is in need of critical care. This speaks to diet, commitment to oral health, a dedication to education and probably some very demanding parents.

The Tooth Fairy and all its forms

Back in 2010, 20th Century Fox put out a fun movie called “Tooth Fairy” in which Dwayne Johnson (you may know him better as The Rock) plays a minor league hockey player who becomes a tooth fairy. It’s a fun movie, made even better by the casting of Julie Andrews – of Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music – as Lily, the head tooth fairy. You really couldn’t have cast that any better.

In this re-imagining of the classic children’s fable, the tooth fairy is actually a team of tooth fairies that circle the globe collecting baby teeth and leaving rewards. It certainly makes more sense than one fairy for all the planet’s children (not that the tooth fairy needs to make sense), but that’s not to say that moms and dads can’t sell the idea of a single tooth fairy. Of course they can. In fact, some of the most outlandish stories have been sold to kids at this all-too-traumatic time in their lives when their little teeth are being pushed aside by their big-boy and big-girl chompers.

Tooth Fairy Data

In 1984, children’s author Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby, Noisy Nora) decided to find out what North American children really thought of the tooth fairy. She found that 74% believed the tooth fairy to be female, 12% said the tooth fairy was neither male nor female and 8% thought the tooth fairy could be either male or female. Of the 74% who saw a female, an overwhelming majority described her as that classic Tinkerbell fairy, while most of those who saw the tooth fairy as male see him as non-human. And that’s interesting because a tooth fairy tour around the world reveals a number of creatures.

International Tooth Fairies

In Spanish and Hispanic cultures, the tooth fairy is known as Ratoncito Pérez (or Pérez Mouse), who crawls under pillows and exchanges money for teeth. The mouse myth also exists in Italy where he’s called Topolino. In France and Belgium, the mouse is female and named la petite souris (the little mouse). In Spain, the tooth fairy is a lady named Mari Teilatukoa (Mary from the roof) who catches teeth thrown up in the air.

The “toss the teeth up in the air” theme is also prevalent in Asia – specifically in India, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. But there’s a twist to this custom: it’s only the bottom teeth that get chucked. Top teeth are placed in crawl spaces underneath the floor. The Japanese add an action to the custom: they throw bottom teeth straight up in the air and top teeth straight down to help the adult teeth come in straight. Middle Eastern countries have also embraced the tooth toss-up, but in those countries it’s an offering to Allah.

The one thing to remember

While it’s a seemingly innocuous construct and can be used to promote healthy oral care habits (“the tooth fairy pays more for healthy teeth, so brush every day”), the tooth fairy can lead to problems.

One of our patients told us about her oldest daughter who essentially extorted her parents by threatening to tell her little sister that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist.

“On the one hand, I was super upset,” said our patient. “On the other hand, I was kind of impressed.”

Yeah, us too.

Boy’s night locations at Yonge and Eglinton

As trendy as Yonge and Eglinton is, most people would agree that our area is what you’d call “family friendly.” But even though it mostly gets a PG rating, we do have a few spots for boys to be boys, as it were. So whether looking for somewhere to hang out after softball or just wanting to unwind with a couple of mates, these spots at Yonge and Eglinton for a Boys’ night are definitely worth considering.

Top 5 Boys’ Night Locations at Yonge and Eglinton

The Right Wing (2497 Yonge St)
This is our neighbourhood sports bar and it’s a good one. The walls are lined with big screens and the owners will let you put on whatever game you’re into. Definitely try the wings: the sauces are homemade and pretty fantastic.

Spacco (2415 Yonge St)
This is our neighbourhood pool hall, and it’s all class in there. It’s also known on the strip as a great place to meet a lady or two, and mow down on delicious pizza. In the summer, their patio rivals just about anyone’s in town.

The Keg (2201 Yonge St)
Dudes and their steaks. Yeah, it’s a bit cliché, but no one grills a better filet mignon. The bar’s always hopping, especially given that it’s located on the ground floor of one of Toronto’s biggest “single in the city” condos, and the service is always on point.

La Carnita (130 Eglinton Ave E)
Imported from College Street, this Mexican joint is always on the city’s top 10 trendiest list. It’s co-owned by buddies of Drake, and it has a Sweet Jesus Ice Cream store attached to it for a delicious post-burrito dessert.

St. Louis Bar & Grill (2050 Yonge St)
This was the original “boys’ night out” spot on the strip. Almost any day of the week, you’ll find tables of teammates chowing down on famous wings and fries and downing pitchers of well-priced beer. Their summer patio is also a staple of the neighbourhood, but count on waiting a bit for a spot on it: it’s supremely popular.

Yonge Eglinton Dental (2345 Yonge St)
If you wanna start boys’ night a little earlier with a group teeth whitening, we gotcha covered.

Chattering teeth

Inspiration comes at strange times. Anybody in the creative space knows this, as does anyone in the research or science space. Sometimes the planets align, show you something you were meant to see and put you on course to make history or a lot of money. In the case of Eddy Goldfarb and his chattering teeth, it was both.

Back in the 1940s, a product called the Tooth Garage – bedside denture case – hit the market. The idea was that false teeth could remain strong teeth if you kept them protected. Millions of people across America saw the ad, including Eddy Goldfarb, then a young inventor in Chicago. When he read the ad, he immediately imagined a giant set of teeth driving a car home after a long day at work, pulling into the garage and going inside for dinner.

For some people, the story would’ve ended there, but young Eddy turned his vision into reality. That ridiculous image he had in his head became “Yakkity-Yak Teeth,” or what you probably know as “those wind-up hop-along chattering teeth.”

Chattering Teeth Take a Big Bite (of the toy business)

Goldfarb had a knack for knowing if something was going to be a hit. And he knew Yakkity-Yak was a winner. He brought it to toy kingpin Marvin Glass – the creator of Lite-Brite and Rock’em Sock’em Robots, who in turn brought it to Irving Fishlove, the actual creator of fake vomit. They saw it. They loved it. They optioned it. And they blew it up.

Before long, Yakkity-Yak teeth were a staple among television variety show comedians like Ernie Kovacs, Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante and Milton Berle. And because (a) television was so new and (b) there weren’t many channel or show options, they caught on.

For the next 17 years, while Goldfarb held the patent on the Yakkity-Yak teeth and Fishlove held the patent on the motor inside it, the two made a mouthful of money together and Eddy used his proceeds to pursue his inventing. When it was all said and done, these strong teeth gave Eddy Goldfarb the juice to invent so many other toys, including Kerplunk, probably his most famous.

When the patent did run out, toymakers from across the globe jumped on the dental bandwagon and came to market with all sorts of Yakkity-Yak iterations, almost all of which you can buy on Amazon today. And it’s pretty much a guarantee that every practising dentist received at least one from someone in their family when they graduated dental school.

But Eddy made his money. And it 2003, for his 800+ plus patents and all his remarkable achievements, not the least of which was Yakkity-Yak chattering teeth, he was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

As dentists, we like to think that means there’s a bit of us in that Hall of Fame. And even if that’s not true, we’re going to continue thinking it anyway.

Father’s Day Special: The Best Dental Dad Jokes

Our Mother’s Day post this year contained some valuable information for women, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t show up for Father’s Day with equally valuable stuff. So very quickly:

  • According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), men are more likely to miss dental visits due to work, forgetfulness or stubbornness.
  • The AGD also found that men brush their teeth less regularly than women.
  • Given the two points above, it’s not surprising that the AGD found 34% of men between ages 30 and 54 have gum disease, compared to just 23% of women. Also, dry mouth and serious periodontal issues are more common in men.
  • Men are at a higher risk for HPV than women according to a University of Texas study.

So, guys, do the simple things right. Brush twice a day even if you don’t feel like it. Floss once a day, even if you think it’s a pain in the butt. And if you haven’t booked your next appointment, get on it. But before you do, some Dental Dad Humour:

Father’s Day Bad Dental Jokes

Q: What did the frequent patient say to the dentist when checking in?
A: I’ve been here before. I know the drill.

Q: What is the best time to schedule a dental exam?
A: Tooth-hurty.

Q: What do you call a dentist who isn’t a fan of tea?
A: Denis.

Q: Why did the smartphone need tooth whitening?
A: It had a little bluetooth that need to be taken care of.

Q: Why did the King schedule a dentist appointment?
A: He needed a new crown.

Q: Why did the dentist leave the airport?
A: He was afraid of the cavity search.

Q: Why did the deer need braces?
A: Buck teeth.

Q: What do dentists call their x-rays?
A: Tooth pics.

Happy Father’s Day from all of us at Yonge Eglinton Dental.