Turn that Frown Upside Down: Facts about Smiles

By June 4, 2015No Comments

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”

– Phyllis Diller, comedian.

As a St. George dentist, smiles are our business and today we’ve collected some of our favorite smiling facts just for you.

Smiling makes everything better

This isn’t just a sugary platitude – it’s scientifically accurate. Forcing yourself to smile when you’re feeling down can actually improve your mood. And when you smile, those around you are more likely to do the same as smiles have been proven to be very contagious. You’re also doing a favor for your immune system when you smile because your body is more relaxed and less agitated, allowing your immune system to run more smoothly. Smiling also releases endorphins to help you relieve stress and lowers blood pressure. Is there anything a smile can’t do?

Smiling gives you a facial workout

Smiling can use up to 53 facial muscles, or as few as 5 depending on the smile. But frowning takes more work and uses more muscles regardless. Polite smiles use less muscles than sincere ones (more to come on that.) Additionally, the muscles used to smile lift the face and make you look younger. Those are pretty good workout results when you think about it.

Smiling is Universal

Differences abound between diverse cultures. Ways of greeting, polite gestures and social norms may differ, but smiling is known everywhere as a sign of happiness and goodwill. And while many traits are learned, smiling is one thing that babies are born with the ability to do, proven by the fact that even blind babies smile. However, in order to read facial expressions, people from different cultures pay special attention to different areas of the face. For example, the Japanese focus on the eyes while Americans focus more on the mouth.

Things happen to people who smile

People who smile seem more confident. That aura of confidence can improve your odds for a job promotion or help you stand out in an interview. Smiling can also make you more attractive and lead to a better social and dating life. Interestingly, an Orbit Complete research study showed that 69% of participants found women to be more attractive when smiling than when wearing make-up.

Polite vs. Sincere

A study done at UC-San Francisco found that there are 19 different types of smiles. These different smiles were sorted into two broad categories: polite “social” smiles and sincere “felt” smiles. These two different types of smiles have actually been found to be controlled by two separate neural pathways, explaining how people with damage to a certain area of the brain can lose the ability to smile at will but can still smile organically. It is speculated that the ability to force a smile is an evolutionary trait that our ancestors developed in order to hide fear. But if you need to spot a fake smile, you can do so by observing the eyes. A genuine smile causes the skin to crinkle around the eyes while a fake one doesn’t.


We hope you’ve enjoyed these fun smiling facts. Set up an appointment today and let us help you achieve your best smile!

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