It’s Science: Smiling Makes Us Feel and Look Better
By Dr. Robert Sunstein,
La Jolla & Carmel Valley Orthodontics Specialist
The effect of smiles on our well-being was tested in a study published in
“Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress Response
- The researchers used chopsticks to control the facial muscles of 169 participants. The participants’ facial muscles were manipulated into a neutral expression, a fake smile, or a genuine smile. Then, with the chopsticks maintaining their facial expressions, the participants were asked to perform stressful tasks. The participants who smiled showed lower heart rates than those with the neutral expressions, and the participants with the genuine smiles were the most relaxed of all.
Neuropsychologiafound that this region responds even stronger to an attractive face when that face is smiling.
And the best thing about a smile is that it is actually contagious—thanks to the cingulated cortex. The cingulated cortex is an unconscious automatic response area of the brain, which causes us to mimic what we see. A Swedish study discussed in
Psychology Todayfound that when participants were shown a picture of a smile but asked to frown, the participants still found themselves imitating what was in front of them—the smile.
The science of the smile has long been a passion of mine. Being fully aware of the positive effect a smile can have the health and happiness of my clients, it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help my clients achieve a smile that that they are proud of flashing—whether they mean it or not.
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