Your smile: more than just a pretty face

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The simplest things can prompt a healthy smile: a word, a sound or a picture. But the biological science behind our grins is actually quite interesting. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the smile — after all, it’s really what our work here at Yonge Eglinton Dental is all about.

Smile to be happy
Smiling isn’t just a response to something that makes us happy. It can actually cause happiness itself. The muscles used for smiling are connected to the part of the brain called the cortex where emotions are triggered. So once we start smiling, the brain creates a positive feedback loop that increases the chemical reaction for joy. Studies have shown that smiling can encourage as much happiness as chocolate. No small feat, as many chocoholics can attest!

Smile to be healthy
Turn that frown upside down if you want to be the healthiest you can be. Smiling is proven to reduce stress, which can have all sorts of negative influences on your health. In fact, a study of baseball cards showed that players who were smiling in their pictures lived, on average, seven years longer than those who didn’t.

You don’t have to head down to the local comedy club. Just practising an authentic smile in front of your mirror can be enough — that’s how deep our smile is programmed into our brains. What’s authentic, you ask? Well, be sure to include your eyes in the smile. Just raising the corners of your mouth isn’t enough! Two muscles have to work together: the zygomaticus major around your mouth and the obicularis occuli around your eyes.

People are very good at recognizing a smile that only uses the zygomaticus major, and it can have the opposite effect of a genuine grin.

Smile to show off your teeth
If you commit to regular oral care (and see your dentist twice a year), your teeth will brighten up a room as much as your smile.