What’s in a smile?

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Smiling is not only a nonverbal indicator of happiness, but also a way to handle stress. Science has proven that when you smile, the contraction of the facial muscles results in activating the happy hormones in the brain hence automatically reducing stress levels. And there are many more benefits to smiling you should know about.

You’ve probably heard that it takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile hence it’s easier to smile than to frown. Smiling often has immense benefits. To begin with, a smile creates trust and rapport and can earn you a new friend or even brighten someone’s day.

Smiling has also been proven to be good for one’s health and well-being. Research has shown that smiling improves one’s immune system by bringing out a sense of relaxation that helps the immune system to work more efficiently. It also helps one to stay positive as smiling frequently lifts depression and sadness and helps relieve stress.

The muscles used to smile lift one’s face, making a person appear younger. Smiling also releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers thus relieving pain.

There is an art to smiling, which, unfortunately, does not come naturally to everyone. Here are a few tips to help you improve your smile.

Practice your smile. Learn to do this by checking out your smile on a mirror as this increases your smiling confidence and helps you know which of your smiles are your best. Also, look at photos of yourself smiling and find out which smile displays your other features in the best possible way and comes across as the most natural. Then keep practicing this particular smile until it becomes your signature.

Smile with your eyes. Your eyes play an important part when you want to give a wholehearted, natural-looking smile, especially when they light up or twinkle. Smiling with your eyes represents sincerity and warmth and you can achieve this by practicing smiling while covering your lips and watching on a mirror the effect it has on your eyes. Think happy thoughts and let this be reflected in your eyes. Keep repeating it until you learn how to smile with your eyes.

Difference between a smile and a grin. When you grin, you show a lot more teeth than when you smile. Try showing only your upper teeth when smiling. If you have small gaps between your teeth, try pressing your tongue behind your teeth as this makes the gaps appear less evident.

One of the factors that make a great smile is a good set of teeth. These are made possible by maintaining good oral hygiene. Many times, people who hesitate to smile may be worried about stained teeth or bad breath. It is therefore prudent for one to take active steps to always keep their mouth fresh and clean. This can be achieved through brushing one’s teeth properly and at least twice a day – in the morning and before you go to bed. Also floss between your teeth several times a week and gargle salty water twice a day to keep away germs and infections that may cause bad breath.  If you feel insecure about your teeth, there are cosmetic dentistry procedures you can consider.

Of equal importance is the need to maintain a balanced diet and minimising your intake of sugary foods, which are known to be bad for the teeth. Also, get into the habit of visiting a dentist at least twice a year for dental checkups as he is able to advise on any issues you may be facing, for instance bad breath, crooked or stained teeth, bleeding gums, cavities and other dental concerns.

Your lips, too, play a key role in a good smile; keep them moisturised with a good lip balm or lip-gloss to avoid dehydration and cracking. Massage your lips from time to time with a soft toothbrush to boost blood circulation and lift dead skin. Also invest in a quality lipstick that complements your complexion if you fancy makeup.

Published April 2017…

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