The science of smiling – Mr. Matthieu Dupui

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  Posted by: The Probe      4th March 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mona Lisais an artistic marvel of the Renaissance period. She sits proudly behind bulletproof glass in a special wing of the Louvre Gallery, attracting thousands of visitors every day. She has continued to garner attention for being the woman with the world’s best-known smile – the power of which Leonardo Da Vinci seemed to understand all too well.

Experts have long studied the science behind smiling, determining exactly why it is important to the way in which we convey emotions and communicate with each other. Research has already revealed that smiling not only influences our physical and mental health, but also how we perceive ourselves and others. This is perhaps one of many reasons why so many people want to ensure that their smile looks and feels healthy.

There’s magic in your smile

As scientists have found, the relationship between your brain and your smile is a particularly complex one with powerful effects on the rest of the body. The act of smiling activates tiny molecules within the brain that are designed to combat stress. These molecules (otherwise known as neuropeptides) facilitate communication between the neurons in your brain, which control your nervous system and enable you to experience emotions such as happiness, sadness and anger. In addition, a smile – whether it be fake or not – triggers the release of “feel-good” neurotransmitters: dopamine influences how we experience pleasure, serotonin regulates mood, and endorphins act as natural pain relievers. Together, these neurotransmitters not only help to relax your body and boost your mood, but also to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.[i]

Essentially, smiling has a wide range of therapeutic effects on both your physical and mental health. Some studies have even assessed how smiling could be a predictor for how happily you may live. In a famous 30-year longitudinal study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley, the smiles of female students in an old yearbook were examined in relation to the success they experienced throughout their lifetime. By measuring the smiles of the students posing in the photographs, researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long-lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on standardised tests of wellbeing and general happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others. Those who smiled widest for their yearbook photograph consistently ranked highest in all of the above categories.[ii]This study is one of many that demonstrates a correlation rather than a causal effect between smiling and lifelong positive outcomes, but it does present compelling evidence to suggest how influential a smile can be. 

Perceptions of smiling

As shallow as it may be, smiling can have a substantial effect on the way you are perceived by others. Psychologists at the University of Swansea have discovered that smiling could be an indicator for how healthy a person is. This research demonstrated that the effect of a smile is similar to that of having a good BMI, using makeup, or looking younger – no matter whether you are male or female.[iii]In another study, face pairs were shown to participants who were asked to judge which face was more attractive than the other. On average, images of people smiling were rated more attractive than those with a neutral expression, which was as true for males as it was for females.[iv]

As the mouth is frequently regarded as the centre of facial communication, it’s no surprise that smiling plays an important role in the way we appear and express ourselves. A study conducted by Van der Geld et al. showed that the size of teeth, the visibility of teeth, and upper lip position are critical factors in determining the attractiveness of a smile. Interestingly, those with a smile that disproportionally displays the gingiva are judged negatively as having high self-esteem and a neurotic personality.[v]Reflecting on these findings, it’s no wonder an increasing number of people are willing to invest in the health and appearance of their smile – more so now than ever before, thanks to the emergence of technology and social media. 

The importance of a healthy smile

Restorative and cosmetic dental procedures continue to grow in popularity, with dental implant treatment proving to be an ideal solution for those seeking to replace missing teeth. Advanced implant systems can be placed within one surgery and are often indistinguishable from a patient’s natural teeth. Although some titanium implants can become visible through the gingiva – thereby compromising the overall visual result – this risk is eliminated with the TBR Z1 implant. Seamlessly combining a durable titanium post with an innovative zirconia collar, the unique design of the Z1 encourages the soft tissue to heal around the implant in a way that mimics natural gingival growth, ensuring a highly satisfactory outcome.

The importance of a healthy smile cannot be underestimated, especially as the world’s most powerful gesture can affect an individual’s self-confidence, self-image and overall quality of life. Practitioners can continue helping patients retain a smile to rival the Mona Lisa’s by offering the latest treatments, which have been optimised to improve dental function and aesthetics.

 

For more information on the Z1 implant, visit tbr.dental, email support@denkauk.comor call 0800 707 6212

 

 

[i]Kraft, T. L. and Pressman, S. D. (2012) Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on Stress Response. Psychological Science. 23(11): 1372-1378.

[ii]Harker, L-A. and Keltner. (2001) Expressions of Positive Emotion in Women’s College Yearbook Pictures and Their Relationship to Personality and Life Outcomes Across Adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 80(1): 112-124. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.80.1.112. Link: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp801112.pdf. [Last accessed: 14.01.19].

[iii]Swansea University. (2017) Happy faces really are healthy faces. Link: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/press-office/news-archive/2017/happyfacesreallyarehealthyfaces.php. [Last accessed: 14.01.19].

[iv]Golle, J., Mast, F. W. and Lobmaier, J. S. (2013) Something to smile about: The interrelationship between attractiveness and emotional expression. Cognition and Emotion. 28(2): 298-310. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.817383.

[v]Van der Geld, P., Oosterveld, P., Heck, G. V. and Kuijpers-Jagtman, A. M. (2007) Smile Attractiveness: Self-perception and Influence on Personality. Angle Orthodontist. 77(5): 759-765. doi: 10.2319/082606-349. Link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6153330_Smile_attractiveness_Self-perception_and_influence_on_personality. [Last accessed: 14.01.19].


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