Tooth Talk with Brinkley Dental Group “The Psychology of the Smile”

November can be a difficult month for some.  It tends to be a bit rainy, gloomy and overcast.  Certainly there is a chill in the air and the gorgeous colors of fall have begun to fade. The tree limbs are bare – just what exactly is there to smile about?  The team here at Brinkley thinks there are plenty of reasons to smile whether or not the weather is one of them, so today we thought we would look at the psychology of the smile.

At Brinkley Dental we care about your smile. We care about the reasons you smile.  We hope those reasons include being surrounded by loved ones and friends you treasure. If good oral health and regular tooth care are part of your regular routine, maintaining that beautiful smile should be easy.  If these aren’t reasons enough and if you’re curious, like us, here are some other cool reasons to “keep on smiling.”

Smiling is very powerful – it is a form of non-verbal communication that tells the world how we are feeling both about ourselves and about the world around us. Where does smiling come from? Most research agrees that smiling appears to be innate. Humans are born with the ability to smile, it is not something that we learn. For instance, even blind babies are able to smile when they hear the sound of their mother’s voice. (1) A smile conveys joy, the pleasure on receiving good news or the happiness we feel when greeting a treasured friend.  Equally, a smile might better be described as a grimace, masking our reaction to unpleasant news (think “grin and bear it) or we might smile artificially in circumstances where we are meeting new people in unfamiliar surroundings. We are told to “smile” when having our pictures taken and the ubiquitous yellow happy face smile has been reproduced around the world on everything from T-shirts to towels. Clearly, smiles are important. It has been proven that simply seeing someone smile will make us smile in return and we don’t know about you but how can you not be happy when you see the Kool-Aid character smile?

Culturally, smiles are perceived differently around the world.  Some cultures place a significantly greater emphasis on the importance of a smile while others actually believe that smiling too much reveals excessive and unnecessary personal information about your emotional state. We could spend an entire blog just addressing this one aspect of the topic!  The bottom line seems to be that since the age of Darwin and Duschenne, scientists have been studying the zygomatic major muscle (2) (yes that’s the smile muscle) in an attempt to understand its significance. An article in psychology today suggests that “most people think that we smile because we feel happy, but it can go the other way as well: we feel happy because we smile.” (3) It seems to be true what mother always told us, putting a smile on our face would cheer us up and that if you smile, the whole world smiles back at you!

Speaking of mothers, she likely also told you this little pearl of wisdom:  it only takes 14 muscles to smile and something like 72 to frown.  That seems like an awful lot of effort to produce an emotion that tells the world you’re not happy. While the research on the validity of this particular commonly accepted “wisdom” is divided, what is known is that smiling just looks better and it makes us feel better too. When we are smiling, studies have shown that a person can be recognized from 300 feet away! So go ahead and exercise your zygomatic muscle more often. If you’re looking for help with a workout routine for your facial muscles and for ways to create a healthier smile visit Brinkley Dental for a consultation today. Whether or not you love November weather – we’ll help you make the most of your smile!

 

(1) www.zidbits.com

(2) www.wikepedia.org/wiki/zygomaticus_major_muscle

(3) Alex Korb @ www.phsycologytoday.com/blog…smile-powerful-tool