In dentistry we often talk about the goal of having great teeth and a brilliant bright smile. And while we regularly discuss the health benefits of general high oral hygiene (avoiding things like gum disease, cavities and decay) we rarely discuss the greater overall benefits of that smile as a whole. As a dentist I can say that I’ve personally felt the benefits of a smile, and seen those benefits be spread to my patients after successful treatments, but I wanted to dig deeper. What are the true advantages of a smile, and is there more to it than just from a dental perspective?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is yes.
In fact in my research I’ve found several articles across Psychology Today that delves into the scientific benefits of a smile, and I’ve decided to reflect on my top 3, from a more dental perspective.
When your smile is a healthy smile, chances are you’re going to want to show it off in public. Smiling has actual health benefits. It leads to the release of feel-good endorphins which improve your mood and make you feel happier. This is something you can test on your own, go ahead, smile right now. It’s infectious, and you can feel your brain releasing those endorphins, as it is “tricked” into feeling happier.
Happiness is something we’re all seeking in one way or another, because having that mood dominate your mental landscape is something which alleviates the day-to-day stress our world forces you to deal with.
Smiling and laughing boosts your immune system. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found positive thoughts and laughter help your brain to fight off illness and disease. It found at the same time that negative thoughts tend to lower your immunity. Further studies have found that laughter IS in fact the best medicine (for some very specific ailments, I’d add) when it comes to postnatal patients, what with it improving their immune system responses.
Laughing and smiling also lowers your blood pressure. Lower blood pressure is to a heart what a foot massage is to your instep – a good thing. Laughing initially makes your heart rate increase, promptly followed by a decrease in its rate, on top of a lowering of your blood pressure as your muscles relax. It’s a combination of factors which help to lower the risk of heart issues.
There’s actually more than three reasons to smile; the opposite of a smile is a frown, and this isn’t the kind of thing we really want to see on most occasions, surely? The conclusion I’m happy to draw is that the above three benefits are going to find their way to you if you smile and laugh more.
AND, you’ll be more predisposed to smile and laugh if you have a healthy and attractive set of teeth, and that will be something you’ll have if you look after your teeth, make regular visits to the dentist and heed my sage-like wisdom at every turn.
Now, go brush your teeth if you haven’t already done so today, and I’ll see you in the chair at our next appointment.