by Jeffrey Eberting, D.M.D., M.S.
I am sure that many of you have seen the advertisement campaign that the American Association of Orthodontists has been running on television over the past few years. “My Life, My Smile, My Orthodontist” is a consumer awareness program which aims to educate the public about the benefits of orthodontic treatment. So why all the hubbub? Why is it so important for us to have perfect smiles? Dentistry aims to promote and preserve healthy teeth and gums – we get this. Toothaches are no fun. Premature tooth loss due to gum disease is no spring stroll through the park. But straight teeth – what’s the big deal? Is a perfect smile THAT important?
It turns out that smiles are more important to our health than we may realize. Many studies and polls have revealed that a person’s smile is one of the first things noticed when being introduced to him or her. Research has shown that people who smile frequently are perceived to be more in control, at ease and attractive than those who don’t. But a smile does not only “brighten a room” – it has been shown to have therapeutic effects on our own well being. Let us consider the following (and I borrow heavily from a blog post by NursingSchools.net):
“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” — Mother Teresa
- Forcing yourself to smile can boost your mood: Psychologists have found that even if you’re in bad mood, you can instantly lift your spirits by forcing yourself to smile.
- It boosts your immune system: Smiling really can improve your physical health, too. Your body is more relaxed when you smile, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system.
- Smiles are contagious: It’s not just a saying: smiling really is contagious, scientists say. In a study conducted in Sweden, people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own.
- Smiles relieve stress: Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, even when you force it. This sudden change in mood will help you feel better and release stress.
- It’s easier to smile than to frown: Scientists have discovered that your body has to work harder and use more muscles to frown than it does to smile.
- It’s a universal sign of happiness: While hand shakes, hugs, and bows all have varying meanings across cultures, smiling is known around the world and in all cultures as a sign of happiness and acceptance.
- Babies are born with the ability to smile: Babies learn a lot of behaviors and sounds from watching the people around them, but scientists believe that all babies are born with the ability, since even blind babies smile.
- Smiling helps you get promoted: Smiles make a person seem more attractive, sociable and confident, and people who smile more are more likely to get a promotion.
- Smiles are the most easily recognizable facial expression: People can recognize smiles from up to 300 feet away, making it the most easily recognizable facial expression.
- Smiles are more attractive than makeup: A research study conducted by Orbit Complete discovered that 69% of people find women more attractive when they smile than when they are wearing makeup.
So, you see that there is a lot of truth in what Bert Healy was singing in the song “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” from the musical “Annie”. Smiles are the easiest thing you can do to put a positive spin on the day, and their effects are contagious. To quote Charlie Chaplin: “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
Dr. Eberting owns Hardin Valley Orthodontics and holds degrees from Duke University and Temple University in both General Dentistry and Orthodontics. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the TN Dental Association, the Second District Dental Society, the American Association of Orthodontists, the Southern Association of Orthodontists, and the TN Association of Orthodontists. He is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Eberting enjoys theater, music running, politics, reading and movies. He has three children.