Fun Facts on Super Smiles, Plus This and That
Did you know there is a World Smile Day? It’s held on the first Friday in October every year, so while this post missed that day, you’ll be ready next year! Let’s celebrate smiles and learn all about them. The simple act of smiling can change your entire outlook on life!
A Short Smile History
Did you know that in olden days people did not smile in portraits or old photos because in that time period smiles were equated with madness, insanity, drunkenness, lewdness or childishness. Nobody wanted to be forever remembered in print as a fool. Small mouths were considered the standard of beauty. Subjects were actually asked to say the word “prunes” to get the desired portrait expression. Saying the word “prune” sure does make you pucker! Toothy grins were frowned upon until the beginning of the 20th century. Tooth decay was rampant. Until I did my research for this article, I really hadn’t thought about the fact many of these folks had lots of tooth decay and missing teeth.
That all changed with the advent of the Kodak Brownie camera, the motion picture industry, and of course, better dentistry! The Eastman Kodak camera company put cameras in the hands of everyday Americans and needed to make picture-taking fun and made “the smile” the standard for a good snapshot. Dentistry improved during that same time period, crowns made teeth look good again. Movie stars started smiling in their movies and the rest, as they say, is history. Hollywood smiles soon followed.
- We are unique in the animal kingdom, only humans smile! Animals do grin – from fear.
- Thirty percent of Americans show their canine teeth when they smile.
- Only 67% turn up the corners of their mouth when they smile.
- **Liars smile bigger, they want you to believe them.
- Smiles tell people you are nonthreatening.
- Smiling is the most important non-verbal communication skill we possess.
- Smiling has a profound affect on the reward part of the brain.
- Your facial expression actually determines your mental state. If you smile, it releases endorphins and reduces cortisol. (Cortisol in excess can increase blood pressure.) These endorphins have an effect similar to morphine to help with pain. Time to put on that happy face.
- Your brain can’t tell the difference between your real smile and a fake smile – it releases those feel good endorphins anyway, so just smile away. Fake it til you make it kinda thing!
- Your brain can recognize a smile on someone else from 90 meters away.
- Smiles are contagious. People feel better just looking at someone with a smile.
- Smiling proves competence, confidence, and ability to cope with stressful situations.
- Smile at job interviews!
- Your facial expressions determine your mental state.
- Smile while learning a new skill takes the stress away. It’ll make you more relaxed and comfortable.
- Smiling raises your self-esteem. It makes you feel happier.
- Women see smiles as a sign of support.
- Men see women’s smiles as a “come on” sign, a sign of flattery and as a sexual invitation.
- Men who smile too much lose masculinity points. Women want men who appear strong and masculine rather than a guy who’ll appease her. Men who don’t smile as much are seen as stronger, they don’t appease anyone. (It will be interesting to see if this observation changes in our time period!)
- Studies show that women laugh at men they find attractive, and men are attracted to women who laugh at them.
- We stand farther away from people who are frowning.
Genuine Smiles Versus Fake Smiles
Real smiles are called Duchenne smiles and involve both the mouth and the eyes. The muscles around the lips are called the Obicularis Oris and do that familiar pull around the mouth. Natural smiles involve different nerves from those activated when we force a smile, so they look different. Real smiles also involve that crinkle around the eye- from the Zygomatic major muscles along with the Obicularis Oculi. No crinkles, no real smile. So all my many eye wrinkles are a good thing! Social smiles only involve the corners of the mouth, no eye movement. That said, some 71% of people can voluntarily contract their eye muscles and make their smile look “real.” So, guess the eye crinkle is not fool-proof.
Real smiles take longer to appear but last longer.
Real smiles occur is small bursts, rather than stay plastered on your face.
We smile back at folks who smile at us. We mimic what we see. If it’s a fake smile, our brain can tell because our brain compares our real smile to what that person’s smile looks and feels like.
Miles of Smiles
Babies have been seen to smile in the womb and even smile in their sleep, it’s not just when they have gas!
Baby’s first social smile happens anywhere from four to six weeks of age. She smiles because she recognizes someone special, that’s you! She’ll use her whole entire face. Baby smiles are extra special, so enjoy them! The more you snuggle and interact with baby, the larger and faster her brain will develop and the more social she’ll be! Smile away!
Babies cry to get our attention but their smile keeps us there. Yes, true, especially at three o’clock in the morning.
Children smile 400 times per day, while adults smile 20. Time to ramp it up folks. You’ll really feel better if you smile more. Kids are on to something important.
Practice makes perfect! Last week I had a photo shoot for a head shot for our office web page. Yikes! I found I over-smiled and my eyes got too “squinty” and my smile too toothy. Back to the mirror to practice and get it right.
There are facial exercises that help your smile. They improve blood flow, strengthen muscles, and can make you look younger and healthier! They can be as effective as surgery and a face-lift. It’s called orofacial myofunctional therapy 😉
Instead of saying “cheese” (or prunes) say “yes” or “money”.
There are many different types of smiles – from the tight-lipped, the sly, the sideways coy, the grin, the open mouth laugh, then there’s the nervous smile, the fear smile, the contempt smile, and the listener response smile. So many different types of smiles. My favorite is the “happy to see you” smile!
The Making of a Healthy Smile
Green, fuzzy teeth, and red inflamed gums do not photograph well. A clean, healthy smile is the best, most attractive smile there is! No blog post would be complete if I didn’t give you some new product recommendations on how to help your teeth look their best!
#1. Brush twice a day, get all the plaque off. Electric brushes are best. My newest, very favorite electric brush is called the Kyoui (pronounced; “Q” ee). It’s super soft and extremely gentle. That’s a switch from many of the most popular power brushes. Plus, it has a special extra tip called an “end tuft” and that’ll get in all your nooks and crannies. It’s unique angle makes cleaning the back teeth much easier. Like I’ve said before, though, get the best you can afford. Dry brushing with a manual brush, and effective flossing can do a great job too.
#2. Toothpaste – I have a new product I just learned about at the IAOMT meeting I attended in September. It’s called Revitin and it’s a prebiotic toothpaste. It’s made with natural products, contains key vitamins and essential enzymes, and does not destroy the healthy, good bacteria in the mouth. It’s got a pleasant orange flavor rather than the standard mint that’s in every commercial paste– confession: I actually don’t like mint. Try it and let me know what you think.
#3. Piksters – Little brushes that fit in between the teeth and clean the gums better. They come in 10 different sizes so explore which sizes work best for you. Dip them into your Revitin tooth paste and work that in between your teeth and clean up your gums. (Floss is always good too.)
#4. Tongue cleaning – twice daily. White, coated tongues just make me cringe in real life and in photographs. I love the Tongue Sweeper. Yes, it does make me gag very time I use it, but that goes away quickly. My breath stays fresher, and my teeth stay healthier.
#5. Then – Practice Smiling! and maybe a little myofunctional therapy to boost those facial muscles.
Smile! it could change your life.
Then, There’s This and That
Last week I received an email from a reporter writing an article for the AARP Bulletin requesting an interview with me! How exciting to be asked about “things I wish my patients knew” concerning oral health and wellness. The reporter, Sari, and I had a lovely 45 minutes conversation. As I spoke I could hear her fingers flying over the keyboard taking in my every word (or at least that’s how it sounded.) She was wonderful to chat with and I hope she learned lots of good information on oral health. The interview will come out in late Winter, early Spring. I’ll let you know when it does. What an honor!
Hug a Hygienist!
October is National Dental Hygiene Month! Your registered dental hygienist is awesome! Maybe RDH should stand for Real Dental Hero, as Hu-Friedy company has said! I loved reading that! He or she is way more than just your dental “cleaning person”. He or she is a caring, compassionate life saver. They screen for oral cancer and other oral diseases, they educate you, they encourage you to take better care of your health, they comfort those with dental fears, they volunteer (a lot!), and they advocate for better access to oral care. They work very hard for you!
Being a hygienist can be hard on the body, bending over all day. It can be a stressful career. Yet, every dental hygienist I know is passionate about giving you the very best care they can. They attend continuing education classes and want to know and learn more all the time. I see it in speaking with them, attending classes that are full to the brim, and reading what they write on Facebook and other online groups. They want to do the very best for you. Help them help you by brushing your teeth, and not just the week before you see them, floss or clean in-between, and please, don’t eat onions or garlic before your appointment. Then there’s listening and implementing their suggestions, and coming in more frequently for dental recare. It is so much more than “just a cleaning.” They really are your life saver. I am so proud to be part of this incredible profession, and to be an RDH for the last 37 years.
Speaking of Continuing Education
I have lots on my plate these next few months! I will be attending three continuing education courses. One here in Seattle by a great mentor, Trisha O’Hehir, on gum disease, then off to Los Angeles to learn from Lois Laynee on Restorative Breathing and another trip in December to take another course on Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.
In December, I will get the chance to have a one-on-one learning experience with another mentor- Judy Carroll RDH, a pioneer in dental hygiene to learn dental perioscopy. Judy will be teaching me her techniques in helping heal gum disease by actually seeing inside the dental pocket with a tiny camera that fits where the infection lives. I have written about my previous trip to Judy before. I am excited to finally learn and have a hands-on experience with her. She is a dedicated, very hard-working, forward thinking RDH. I am eager to be her student and learn more about how to help you, my patients heal and be well. My head may burst from all this great learning!
Then There’s This
In between my continuing education courses, I will be speaking to a number of groups these next few months. Between high schoolers and middle schoolers, we’ll discuss gum disease, tooth decay, and how to care for their mouth. Then I’ll meet with a local dental hygiene component and do a presentation on what to look for in babies and children to prevent myofunctional disorders and grow healthy, well-developed jaws and good-looking children – properly developed facial structures are important! The last meeting I spoke at was a full house, AND! They asked me back for round two! Like I said, hygienists want to learn.
In the spring I did a presentation for a local middle school and had a reporter, Joanna Kresge from 425 Magazine (local to the are) come and watch. The article came out in June and finally did come online. I’d missed sharing it with you so here it is now. Two interviews in one year. Amazing and fun. Hope you enjoy the article!
And Best for Last
This summer I received an award for Top Dental Health Blogger from a website in Costa Rica! The best part, of the 25 blogs featured, this blog was number one! I am honored and excited to share this with all of you! In January, I’ll be visiting Costa Rica and hope to see this beautiful Island and meet the folks behind this special honor.
It’s such a pleasure to meet you, my readers, hear your reactions to posts and learn how you benefit from these pages. Please share your knowledge and let me know if you have questions.
I am working on more posts about root canals and fluoride. Stay tuned, these are important issues and may well turn you on your head, it has me!
Keep smiling, it improves your own health. Share your smile, it’s contagious. Then give one away, someone else needs it! Thank you for all your support.
Miles of smiles to you,