A genuine smile is a universal sign of connection and goodwill. But did you know there’s more to smiling than just that?
Since we’re all about smiles at The Brace Place, we want to share a few fun facts about this powerful expression. And maybe the next time you smile or someone smiles at you, one of these eight fun smile facts might pop into your head… and make you smile even bigger!
A smile can boost your mood
Does smiling make you happy? Simply put, yes. Even when you don’t feel like smiling, simulating a genuine smile can lift your mood. Several studies show that smiling kickstarts a chemical reaction in your brain, releasing feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. These hormones help reduce depression and aggression.
Smiling can reduce stress
We all experience stress at one time or another. But taking a moment to pause and smile can bring you some relief. Physical benefits of smiling — like lowering your heart rate and cortisol levels — can better your mood, improving your health and immune system.
In one study, participants were given stress-inducing activities while holding chopsticks in their mouths to maintain a neutral expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile (a smile that extends to the muscles around your eyes). The outcome? The types of smiles didn’t matter too much but it’s clear that smiling wins: those who had smiling expressions had lower heart rates and recovered more quickly from their stress than those with neutral faces.
Smiling can contribute to a longer life
The importance of your smile is not only about brightening the moment but can have long-term effects, too. Another study on the benefits of smiling and types of smiles catalogued player smiles on MLB baseball cards from 1952 and compared how long they lived. From no smile to a partial smile to a Duchenne smile, the bigger the smile, the longer the life. On average, those who didn’t smile lived 72.9 years, those with a partial smile lived 75 years, and players with a Duchenne smile lived 79.9 years.
A smile can make you seem more intelligent
Job interview or first date, the benefits of smiling are many — including giving off the impression you’re a smart cookie! Case in point: researchers showed participants pictures of faces, asking to rate them for intelligence. Smiling faces were ranked as having “high intelligence” more often than non-smiling faces. And what contributes to an attractive smile? Straight, healthy teeth — often achieved with braces or Invisalign.
Smiling is contagious
Adding to our fun facts about smiling: that it’s contagious. When you smile at someone, their brain responds with “sensorimotor simulation,” fancy-speak for mimicking an expression involuntarily. In fact, a study from Sweden showed that subjects had difficulty frowning when looking at a smiling face, their facial muscles fighting an automatic smile response.
So why do our brains do that? Responding with a smile is our brain’s way of showing empathy. And since smiling has a positive effect (as we’ve mentioned in smile fun facts #1 and #2) there are really no downsides to responding to a smile with a smile.
Smiles come in 19 different types
We smile for all sorts of reasons, with a variety of different smiles. A UC-San Francisco researcher identified 19 types of smiles, putting them into two categories: the polite smile which engages fewer facial muscles, and the sincere smile that uses more muscles. And psychologist, Paul Ekman, identified individual types of smiles, like the felt smile, fear smile, miserable smile, and flirtatious smile.
Smiling is a baby’s first facial expression
One of the cutest facts about smiling? We’re hardwired to smile, right from the womb. In fact, 4D scanning has shown that some babies actually smile in utero. Once they’re born, babies reflexively smile in their sleep, then start smiling in response to people around them between six to 12 weeks old.
A smile is the most recognizable facial expression
People can recognize a smile from up to 300 feet away, making it the most easily recognizable facial expression. And since smiling is a universal sign of happiness, it’s an easy way to communicate across cultures — more than handshakes, hugs, or bows which can have different meanings for different traditions.
Smile bigger with the Brace Place
Dr. Patel and The Brace Place team hope these fun facts about smiling have made you grin! And now that you know more about the importance of your smile, contact your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist today for a free consultation to improve yours!