Smiling is Healthy, Even When its Fake
As strange as it may seem, research strongly indicates that the simple act of smiling can have some very positive benefits; both for ourselves and others. When we smile, our body handles stress better than when we don’t. The rate at which our bodies recover from tension actually increase while we’re smiling, but we have to use the proper facial muscles for it to work. This doesn’t mean it has to be a smile with genuine feeling, only that it has to look like it, sort of. Scientists have divided smiles into two categories based on muscle usage. Specifically, whether it only involves the facial muscles around the mouth or if it includes the muscles around our eyes. The second type is what is considered a genuine smile, but don’t worry, both kinds have nearly the same impact. If you need some practical advice on how to smile like this, don’t hesitate to ask the dentist at your next Tulsa teeth cleaning appointment!
Of specific note in recent research is the work of Sarah Pressman and Tara Kraft, two scientists of psychology. Prior studies had often failed to capture the importance of particular muscle groups used in the act of smiling and as a result, gained less specific measurement results. However, when this specificity of musculature was implemented, Pressman and Kraft were able to show quantitative measurements of the degree to which certain types of smiles aided the human body in recuperating from short-term stressors.
Observation from the Social Sciences
Social psychologists have also noted ways in which our smiles can have a positive benefit on others, and through them back onto us. Dr. Zahed points out that “A smile puts the others at ease because we are not coming across as being unfriendly or as a threat.” He’s not alone in making this observation; sociologists, psychologists, and cultural anthropologists all have field-specific literature that pertains to this phenomenon. It may seem silly to many of us—as if to say that not smiling at someone implies we see them as a predator sees a prey— when all that’s really going on is we aren’t in the mood, or we’re busy with something else. However, there is a part of our brain that pays careful attention to these cues in the behavior of others, and it sends out signals to our body to be on alert when it gets worried. This whole process is mostly unconscious and involuntary, which is why we often remain unaware of it, and why the observations of these scientists can seem silly to us.
Keeping that Smile
Now, we all hear the adage that your smile makes your first impression, and now we have these observations of experts as well. If we’re going to be smiling all the time, and we remain as self-conscious as most of us are, then it makes a whole lot of sense to take care of that smile. Brush your teeth and floss them twice a day and see your dentist for a Tulsa teeth cleaning appointment twice a year.
Don’t hold back on that smile, and don’t let it fade. Schedule a Tulsa teeth cleaning appointment today!