Do you flash your pearly white when someone takes your picture? Or do you try to minimize your smile?
That may sound like a question about vanity, but the truth is our smile is more reflective of our overall health than we may realize. We all grew up hearing brush your teeth twice a day and floss once.
That advice is given for more reasons that just to keep your smile shining brightly. It turns out that smiling helps us feeling good, reduces our stress level and is related our overall health.
WHY IS SMILING IMPORTANT
There is science behind the reasons to keep a healthy smile. Smiling seems to give us the same feelings that exercise does. It turns out that our brains tell us to smile when we feel good, and when we smile it tells our brain that we feel good, and so on.
In his research, Andrew Newberg has found that smiling can cause others to feel more comfortable around us and trust us more or the opposite can happen. People feel at ease around someone with a soft eye gaze and a Mona Lisa smile. The good news is we can learn how to do this, practice it and make it a habit. Before you engage in conversation with someone, visualize yourself spending time with someone you love or think about an event that brought you deep satisfaction and joy.
This happened to me by accident a few years ago. You may have had a similar experience. One day, I was walking around my classroom monitoring my students as they took a test. The room was quiet and my mind was wondering. After the test, a student asked me why I was smiling as I walked around the room. I smiled again. I had been thinking about a very special person in my life. That thought still makes me smile today.
We can learn the most about smiling from children. They smile more than 400 times a day compared to the average adult, who only smiles approximately 20 times a day.
Have you ever noticed that you smile more when you are around babies or children who are smiling? Their smiles are contagious. Studies have shown that we have less control over our facial muscles when we see someone smile, causing us to smile too!
As I continued my study of smiling, I found that smiling more is the perfect prescription if you want to live longer. In a 2010 study at Wayne State University, the researchers studied the baseball card photos of the 1952 Major League season players. They found that the players with the brightest smiles lived, on average, 7 years longer than players who didn’t smile.
Smiling more can lead to less stress and better overall health. A study reported in the Psychological Science journal shows that there is a correlation between smiling and reduced stress. Participants who smiled using “true smiles” had lower heart rates and were calmer during brief periods of stress. In a “true smile” the muscle that is just to the side of the eyes is activated (sometimes referred to as crow’s feet). We can force a smile that only uses the mouth muscles, but not one that stimulates the eyes. Smiling that involves the eyes is caused only by true feelings and emotions.
KEEPING YOUR SMILE HEALTHY
When we have a healthy smile, we feel more confident and enjoy smiling more often. To keep our smiles healthy, we need to make smile care habits part of our daily routine.
The first and most basic thing we can do is brush our teeth twice daily. Brushing with an electric toothbrush, such as the Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush, has been shown to clean teeth more effectively than a regular tooth brush. Make a habit of replacing you toothbrush every three months.
Flossing may be as important if not more important than brushing. It has been said that we don’t need to floss all of our teeth—just the ones we want to keep! Flossing seems to benefit our overall health as well. Studies have shown there is a clear association between healthy teeth and gums and a healthy heart. If you have one, you will likely have the other.
Last of all, make a habit of visiting your dentist regularly. Once every six months is usually enough to keep your smile in good, working order.
Smiling is free and an easy way to create good feelings for yourself and for others. People who smile often and who make a habit of taking care of their smile live longer, have less stress and enjoy greater health. Smiling is a win-win all the way around.
“I will never understand all the good a smile can do.”
– Mother Teresa
Question: Do you feel less stress when you smile more often? Do you notice other benefits of smiling? Thanks for reading and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.