The Importance of a Smile: 3 Reasons to Show Your Pearly Whites

Straighter teeth mean greater confidence in your smile. While you may be more excited to pose for selfies with friends, the benefits of your newly straightened teeth go far beyond that. Actually, smiling is rather important – both to you and to others. Here, we list our top three reasons to break out your biggest smiles and not hold back.

1. You look more attractive to others.

It goes without saying, a smiling face is a happy face. Did you know, however, that smiling can make you appear more attractive to others? In fact, it can affect a person’s social judgments about you, as well as their attraction to you. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia examined the effects of smiling on the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain – an area associated with sensory reward. When examined under functional magnetic resonance imaging, the orbitofrontal cortex became more active when study participants were shown images of smiling faces versus neutral expressions.

2. Smiling makes you feel good.

Smiling may be an exterior expression, but has interior implications. Research has shown time and time again that it can have a tremendous effect on your health. When you smile, neuropeptides and neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins, and seratonin flood the brain, helping you to fight off stress and relax. Some of them have been correlated with cardiovascular benefits, and endorphins have been shown to fight pain.

But keep in mind, it’s not just the smile that counts – it’s the type and intensity of it, too. There are two types of smiles: a standard smile and a genuine smile. The former engages the mouth, whereas the latter engages the mouth, as well as the muscles around the eyes. When researchers compared the smiles of players in the 1952 Baseball Register, they found that those who were smiling lived longer than those who were not, and those who were smiling genuinely lived the longest.

3. Your smile is contagious.

Imagine being able to share the gift of health and good looks with others! The benefits of smiling do not have to end with you. Have you ever noticed another person smiling back at you when you flash a grin? That could be because smiles are contagious, and they often reciprocated without you even noticing.
Smiles are scientifically proven to be contagious, as was shown in a study published in 2008 in the British Medical Journal. It tracked thousands of people and found that those who were surrounding by many friends – particularly happy ones – were more likely to report being happy themselves. Happiness was actually shown to be more contagious than unhappiness. So start smiling!

Another study published in 2003 from the University of Tübingen found similar results. Subjects were shown images of emotive faces and asked to provide happy or sad facial responses as directed. When shown smiling faces, study participants had a more difficult time frowning than they did when asked to mimic the smiles.

Sources:
O’Doherty J, Winston J, Critchley H, Perrett D, Burt DM, Dolan RJ., Neuropsychologia, 2003
Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness.
Psychological Science, April 2010
Smile intensity in photographs predicts longevity
Psychiatry Research, May 2003
Why are smiles contagious?
BMJ 2008; 337:a2338
http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a2338

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