The Science Behind the Smile

Bright Smiles

A Guide to Understanding What Makes You Grin

It’s pretty reasonable to assume there is a scientific explanation for most everything in the world and it’s no different for smiling! It’s not something we think about often. It’s a visceral reaction that at its most effective times requires little to no thought. It’s not a learned behavior and is intrinsically one of the first expressions we have as newborns, sometimes within the first two hours of birth.

Would it be surprising to know the average adult smiles around 40 times a day? That’s good! This means they’re authentic, and an authentic smile has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and your heart rate; it truly is the best medicine. And guess what? Even a “fake” smile has been proven to improve your mood; it tricks your brain into thinking you are indeed happy. The better you feel the better the people around you will feel. Smiles are contagious, so spread the love!

There are two primary “kinds” of smiles: the social smile (for effect and to be polite) and what is called the Duchenne smile, named after the French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne. In the 19th century, he conducted an experiment through electrocuting individual muscles in the faces of his subjects. Through doing this he discovered muscles around your mouth aren’t the only ones being utilized when authentically smiling; a Duchenne smile utilizes muscles right under your eyes as well (hence the phrase “smiling eyes”).

He found with a “social smile,” the under-eye muscles are not being exercised. When a brain cannot detect facial feedback (i.e., smiling) the emotional centres remain quiet and relatively inactive. Even with a social smile the emotional centres prove physically benefitted by lighting up. By monitoring this behavior scientists have concluded smiling is regarded as more desirable than most things (even a gift of $16,000!).

And why wouldn’t smiling be desirable? Take a look some of the other things it improves and motivates on a daily basis!

  1. Laughing stokes your calorie burn by up to 20%
  2. Smiling often times leads to a longer lifespan
  3. A happy face can cure/prevent the common cold. It produces greater quantities of antibodies and T-cells, boosting the immune system
  4. Why are we so happy around children? The average child smiles nearly 400 times a day (up to 8x more than adults) and smiling is contagious!
  5. A research study has revealed 70 percent of men find a smiling woman more attractive than a woman with makeup on

And most importantly? It makes you happy! (…Even if it’s forced at first.)

So let’s work on that smile! Make an appointment to get those pearly whites into tip-top shape so you can brighten your day and infect the people around you with your brightest smile. We’re in the business of making people happy—click here to make an appointment today!