Can Smiling Make You Healthier?
By Joe McIntyre, DDS on July 16, 2020
WE OFTEN HEAR that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. We’re not sure where that came from, but it isn’t actually true. At least ten muscles are involved in smiling, but it might require as few as six to form a frown. We propose changing the saying to “smiling burns more calories than frowning,” but let’s take a look at the other benefits we get from smiling!
The Smiling/Happiness Feedback Loop
To say that we smile when we’re happy might seem so obvious that there’s no point in saying it, but the relationship between smiling and happiness is a lot like the chicken and egg question. We do smile when we’re happy, but we also become happier by smiling! It turns out that the simple act of smiling (even when it’s fake) releases endorphins, also known as the feel-good hormones. So it might be a good idea when you’re having a rough day to try smiling until you feel a little better!
Smiling Reduces Pain and Stress
The endorphins we gain by smiling have a lot of great benefits. In the short term, those include relieving stress and reducing pain. Endorphins function like painkillers (without side effects!) and help us recover more quickly from stressful situations. One experiment in 2012 tested how long it took the subjects’ heart rates to go back to normal after a stressful task, and the smiling subjects recovered more quickly.
Boost Your Immune System with a Smile!
The effects of endorphins can compound over time into something more long-term if we make a habit of smiling. We’re making ourselves more resilient against illnesses — even reducing our chances of getting cancer! This happens because when we manage our stress more effectively, our cells go through fewer stress-induced mutations.
Extend Your Lifespan by Smiling
It’s a well known fact that people perceive a smiling face as being younger and more attractive than a face that isn’t smiling. Well that isn’t just about appearances: over the course of a lifetime, the health benefits from smiling can actually help us live longer. Of course, it’s easier to smile when we’re happy with the way our teeth look, which is just one reason it’s so important to establish and maintain good daily oral health habits!
Bring Us Your Beautiful Smiles!
You don’t have to fight for your healthy smile alone! We’re here to help. If you need advice on what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong, just ask, and make sure you’re scheduling regular dental appointments every six months so that any problems that do come up can be dealt with right away!