“Smile and the world smiles with you.” We all know this is true – we’ve seen it happen. But what about those of us who don’t have the benefits of straight teeth and a dazzling white smile? What happens if we choose not to smile, simply because we lack confidence?
This is a surprisingly common situation for people around the globe. In fact, a telling study from the Manchester’s School of Dentistry found that people who suffer from dental challenges such as tooth loss suffered a “dramatic loss of confidence.” The knock-on effect of plummeting self-confidence is that these people avoid smiling, concerned as they are by the state of their mouths and what people may think of them.
This situation poses something of a conundrum, as the physical act of smiling offers so many positive health and psychological benefits. Those suffering from a lack of confidence or low self-esteem because of poor dental health, in particular, would gain so many advantages from the physiological effects that smiling provides.
We have all had experiences where someone with some seriously dodgy teeth has been talking to us and we struggle to focus on their words because we are so distracted by their mouths. The fact is, we notice bad teeth, and these can (and have) negatively impacted social lives, romantic lives, and promotional prospects. There is an unspoken social bias against bad teeth. Sad, but true.
But there is so much more to this matter. The same study mentioned above refers to the contagious effects of smiling, mood-boosting benefits, increased blood flow to the brain and an overall positive perception.
Fake it ‘till you make it! We’ve heard that before, but nowhere is it truer than in the practice of smiling. Decades of research is pointing us to the conclusion that a fake smile can actually trick our brains into thinking that we’re happy, which in turn, responds by putting out the happy hormones.
Let’s be clear though. If you are depressed or genuinely sad, then faking a smile probably won’t work. If you are in a pretty neutral place and want to perk yourself up, then even a false smile will help to turn the tide.
So, facial expressions don’t only reflect our emotional state, but can also be the cause of it. Dr Robert Zajonc, a noted psychologist has a number of theories around this fascinating conclusion, and more details can be found here.
Depression affects our whole bodies, and notably, our immune system. If even a fake smile can kick-start the happy hormones in our bodies, then it’s well worth the effort.
Smiling stimulates chemicals that enhance our mood and lowers stress levels. Serotonin – one of the feel-good hormones released in a smile – is an immune booster and general good guy to have around. Endorphins lower blood pressure, which leads to less stress on the heart and fewer cardiovascular issues.
A genuine smile – where your eyes crinkle up and your cheeks lift – is infectious. We are hard-wired to respond to a smile with a smile, and those who don’t smile back have made a conscious effort to not do so.
A smile is a worldwide gesture of goodwill and happiness. It makes you more approachable, more likeable, and more trustworthy. A smile makes people more comfortable and eases tension, more than any other word of gesture could. It also makes you more attractive to members of the opposite sex!
How many reasons did you count to smile! It’s clear that a happy smile makes an enormous difference in every aspect of our lives and is certainly something we should do more of. But, what happens when you want to smile, but you aren’t happy with your teeth? What if our own lack of self-confidence is getting in the way of living our best life?
Fortunately, the technology of today (and our caring dental team) makes straight teeth and a healthy, beautiful smile something that is totally achievable for you. Like all our patients, this simple fix will make all the difference in your life and turn it into the success story that you know it can be.