Smile…It’s Good For You
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but just go ahead and try to laugh without smiling!
And we all know that when we feel good we tend to smile more, but did you know that the reverse may be true as well?
That is, just the simple act of smiling can be good for our health.
Even though smiles have been said to be incredibly contagious, cracking a smile is scientifically proven to be good for your overall health.
In a 2012 study, published in issue of Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Kansas found that the act of smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health, helping the heart recover more quickly after stressful events.
The Science of Smiling
According to the Psychological Science study, and this associated article from The Telegraph, Tara Kraft, of the University of Kansas, said:
“Age old adages, such as ‘grin and bear it’ have suggested smiling to be not only an important nonverbal indicator of happiness but also wishfully promotes smiling as a panacea for life’s stressful events.
“We wanted to examine whether these adages had scientific merit; whether smiling could have real health-relevant benefits.”
Ms. Kroft and Dr. Sarah Pressman divided smiles into two categories – standard smiles, which use the muscles surrounding the mouth, and genuine or Duchenne smiles, which engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes.
Kraft and Pressman worked to manipulate the types of smiles to examine the effects on stress.
The results of the study showed that smiling during brief periods of stress can actually help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether you actually feel happy or not.
Dr. Pressman went on to say:
“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment.
“Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well.”
National Smile Month
The month of May gives us many reasons to smile here in the U.S., but aside from the warmer weather, Mother’s Day, & Memorial Day, May 18th-June 18th also gives us all another reason to exercise our smile muscles – National Smile Month.
National Smile Month was started in the U.K., it’s the UK’s largest and longest-running oral health campaign and is sponsored by the British Dental Health Foundation.
In 2009 the National Smile Month campaign ran simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S.A. for the first time.
Let’s hope more dentists around the world, international health organizations, dental colleges & universities, municipalities, & other industry players get more involved as National Smile Month continues to promote the message that oral health IS overall health.
And that smiling is good for our health!