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What makes up a smile?

October 12, 2016

A smile is a reflection.




As an orthodontist, I tend to focus on the role that teeth play in a great smile. But, I understand that a beautiful smirk is a combination of factors that communicate a sense of well-being to those who see it. There have been volumes written on the power of a smile on both the wearer and those that see it. The bottom line is that a smile works on both the physical and emotional level to transfer positive feelings between the parties involved.

Just what is transmitted when someone is smiling at another? First, that the smiling person is genuinely happy at that moment. That the person they are smiling at is welcome, unthreatening. The receiver is told that they are accepted and welcome to converse. The person smirking also reinforces to themselves on a deep subconscious level that they are happy and creates a positive feedback loop for their mood. Lifehacker, the renowned online magazine of self-help hints has almost 8,200 articles about smiling.

Follow along and see the main players in a great smile and how they work together to put out more positivity than you could imagine possible.

The Eyes

People who are honestly happy, smile from their eyes. You can see the mouth turn up at the corners but it’s the slight squint of the eyes and the little wrinkles in the corners that give away a honest-to-goodness smile. Also called a Duchenne smile, it involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and forms crow’s feet around the eyes). I had to get some anatomy jargon in. There, I feel better.

The Mouth

Most basically, people believe that a smile originates at the corners of the mouth. The upturn of the corners of the mouth is the basis of all smiles. Ah, but not all smiles are created equal. Some writers have proposed that the easiest way to detect a “fake” smile is to look for one where the mouth is smiling but the eyes give away that the feeling is only half-hearted. Interestingly, some other psychologists believe that even a forced smile can have a positive effect if it is back by an attitude of trying to improve one’s mood. It seems that no one can resist getting in a better mood if they smile an mean it, even if meaning it can take a bit.

The Teeth

Finally! My favorite part. Remember that Duchenne smile we talked about earlier? Well all of the additional muscular movement ends up showing your teeth! And what a great feeling to flash that winning smile. Having worked with patients now for over 14 years, I have seen the incredible effect having great teeth can make on someone. It’s no surprise that if you have teeth that you are proud of, it’s a pleasure to show them to others. Aside from well aligned teeth looking good, properly aligned teeth feel better. There isn’t the pain in your teeth, jaw or face that poorly aligned teeth have. Talk about a reason to smile.

I want to see my patients giving honest, heart-felt smiles and I work hard to make sure they have every reason to. Schedule an appointment and let’s see what we can do to give you the best teeth your smile could ever hope for.

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    Great smile tips from Dr. Reynolds!