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Why we are so impacted by a smile

Did you know that you can suppress the urge to be sick through smiling? It releases hormones that can settle your stomach for a few minutes and give you time to get out of traffic, rush out of that meeting, or dash into that bathroom, allowing you to save face and avoid ruining your outfit. Similarly, while fake smiles don’t quite reach your eyes, they still trigger a hormonal response, so if you ‘fake it’ for a few minutes when you’re low, your mood may start to lift.

These are just some of the scientifically proven psychological benefits of a smile, but there are lots of others. Different theories have different figures, but they seem to agree that our faces average around 40 muscles and we use between 17 and 20 of them when we smile, so it’s a good work out, kind of like a press-up for your face.

Universal feel-good vibes

All around the world – and on a subconscious level – body language communicates more effectively than words. And since gestures can be hilariously polar, the universal ones are held in higher regard. For example, ‘thumbs up’ is a good thing in the western world. But in the past, it had a derogatory connotation in certain parts of Greece, West Africa, and the Middle East, so some older generations still find it offensive.

It could also mean, ‘I need a ride’ in the hitchhiking space,or indicate the Number 1 in France or the Number 10 in American sign language. Fortunately, a smile is accepted as a sign of embrace and friendliness all over the world. It sets people at ease and makes them feel welcome without words.

Hide it with a smile

Yes, they can sometimes be used for subterfuge – a mocking smirk, a nervous twitch of the lips, or a devious grin, but even these gestures are designed to improve a person’s mood, and they do. When you smile at someone, they subconsciously smile back. It’s a reflex, and while some people consciously stop themselves, it may have happened already.

That instant activates your brain’s neuropeptides as well as neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, our so-called ‘feel-good’ hormones. And since the action of smiling triggers a positive hormonal response in the brain, even that split-second smile can cheer you up. Smiling can also trigger confidence, both in ourselves and others.

A smile for every occasion

Smiling has also been said to reduce stress-hormones, which explains nervous grins. It’s our body’s way of trying to calm us down, and it works! Endorphins also release painkillers, which explains that smiley grimace when you’re physically hurt. Smiling makes you more attractive too, laugh lines notwithstanding.

Of course, you can train yourself to smile more and to smile better. Still, our Parramatta dentist can tell you that straight, sparkly white teeth are a big part of your smile. Some people learn to laugh with their mouths closed because they’re self-conscious about their teeth. Luckily, you don’t have to distort your lips or resist that natural impulse to grin. Visit us instead, and we can make a treatment plan to help. It’ll brighten your week – and ours too!

For a smile that lights up your day – and everyone else’s – call Dental Avenue Parramatta today on 02 8004 0055.

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