When you see someone smiling do you ever notice how they appear more attractive, sociable, fun and confident? Well, what if these benefits weren’t just visible from the outside but could extend to the smiler themselves?
This National Smile Month (15 May-15 June), we’re looking at the psychology of smiling. And you might just be amazed.
What happens when you smile?
When you smile you release something called neuropeptides which help to combat stress. Feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and endorphins are also triggered. The overall effect is one of relaxation of your body’s muscles and a lowering of your blood pressure and heart rate.
But not only can smiling act as a natural pain reliever and antidepressant, it can also influence those around you. Why else do you think celebrities, politicians and other people in positions of power smile so much?
Smiling helps warm others to your cause and can boost your reputation. Plus, smiling makes us look good – a whole lot better than frowning. And what’s more, you even use fewer muscles to smile than you do to frown: 17 as opposed to 43!
A study also found that seeing an attractive face smiling activates the parts of your brain known for processing sensory rewards. In other words, you get the feeling of being rewarded. But if you want to gain even more benefits, ensure you make eye contact too for positive reinforcement.
The phrase a ‘contagious smile’ also has some merit. Researchers found that when they asked people to frown when looking at pictures of people smiling, they had to make a concerted effort to do so.
So smiling doesn’t just make us feel great, it triggers a similar automatic response in others which we can use to our advantage, getting others on side and generally making the world a happier place.
But what if you don’t like your smile?
You’re not alone; more than a quarter of people don’t like to smile because of their teeth. But with a little TLC, you could change all that.
Getting into the habit of good dental hygiene is a start, which includes brushing twice a day, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. As is cutting back on lifestyle choices which stain or damage your teeth, such as switching sugary, fizzy drinks, wine and coffee for water, chocolate for apples and strawberries, and quitting smoking.
What’s more, the more you smile, the better you’ll feel, boosting your confidence from the inside out.
Take our challenge
This National Smile Month, why not try flashing those pearly whites a bit more often and see how much further a simple smile can get you – whether it’s some friendly chit chat on the tube, a few more likes on Facebook or maybe a brand-new friend. And if you’d like to book a dental appointment in Notting Hill, contact us at Number 18 Dental today.