Smiling: It’s More Than Meets the Eye

By Dr. Joe D’Angelo

Recently, I asked a patient I had treated, “How do you like your new smile?” In his retirement, David is a school teacher. His answer was incredibly profound as was my inspiration for this article. David replied, “It makes me happy when the kids smile back at me.” Before his smile makeover, David told me he had been self-conscious of his smile and he had learned over the years to keep from showing his teeth. Can you imagine the loss of joy David felt each day from guarding and hiding his teeth that had always been a source of embarrassment!

For most of us, smiling comes naturally in the presence of happiness. It’s our outward expression of joy. It’s no wonder then that smiling improves our mood and gives us an instantly improved sense of self.

In fact, the positive feelings associated with smiling aren’t just skin deep.

The act of smiling activates the part of the brain that controls expressions of pleasure. When we smile, our brain feels rewarded, triggering the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. And, there are even more to the benefits of smiling. When we feel happiness and therefore reflect it through the act of smiling, the centers of our brain that control cognition and emotional processing are each stimulated, leading researchers to believe that smiling can influence factors like heart rate, blood pressure and other cardiovascular indicators.

“Research is ongoing into the science behind the phenomenon of smiling, and we are coming to understand more about the role that smiling plays in our own minds and bodies, as well as in the minds and bodies of others,” said head researcher Dr. David Solly, a professor at University of the Rockies.

We can probably go a long time denying ourselves the psychological and overall health benefits of smiling without realizing that we are also denying the people around us the gift of shared happiness. The children in David’s class were certainly in a better position to have a good day, as was David, after sharing that first warm smile. Do you think they were more open to learning? Do you think they were more likely to have a favorable rapport? How about the rest of us? How about that business presentation? How about our spouse when we leave for work or upon returning home?


The truth is, that no matter how much we want to naturally smile, sometimes we’re inhibited to do so if we are self-conscious about our teeth. If you want to feel confident with a more beautiful, perhaps even an unstoppable smile, here’s what you can do.

Professional tooth whitening.

This is SO EASY! When teeth appear yellow or discolored, it can be embarrassing to smile. Professional tooth whitening can resolve this problem. Let our office lighten your teeth to a strikingly natural, bright smile. Also, professional whitening is safe for your teeth and even has health benefits for your gums.

Veneers or Bonding.

The shape of the tooth can make all the difference in the aesthetic composition of your smile. If teeth are unattractive, short or slightly crooked, veneers or bonding can be an excellent choice in restoring the beauty of your smile.


Straight teeth look beautiful on any smile. Invisalign can help you achieve the gorgeous smile you’ve always wanted without the need for traditional orthodontics, making the process easier than ever before.

Dental implants.

Missing teeth are a problem functionally due to the loss of load distribution and loss of bone due to lack of stimulation. However, when they show they are almost always the source of embarrassment. Dental implants are an amazingly reliable solution to replace missing teeth. They are also very natural in appearance and feel.

White fillings.

Those unattractive silver fillings (I actually think most of them are black after a few years), that you thought could last years, actually place undue strain on the teeth due to their poor properties of thermal expansion and lack of direct bonding to the teeth. White resin fillings and the latest ceramic restorations and when done properly are amazingly strong, help restore integrity to the teeth and are almost undetectable.

Don’t wait to get that smile in shape. If you ever feel embarrassed about your smile, you probably are sacrificing more than you realize.

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