Smiling takes at least ten muscles, while as few as six are required for a frown. A better expression would be “smile to burn more calories,” but that isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from flashing those pearly whites more often.
When we smile, it sets off a chemical reaction in our bodies and brains. We release endorphins, the feel-good hormones. The amazing thing is that we can release these endorphins simply by the act of smiling, even if it’s fake! Smiling and happiness are so closely tied together in our brains that it doesn’t matter which one comes first. If you’re having a rough day and want to feel better, smiling is a great, simple first step to take.
That rush of endorphins has a lot of benefits, and two of the most immediate ones are reducing pain and relieving stress. Endorphins are natural painkillers with no side effects, and they help us recover more quickly from stressful situations. A 2012 experiment demonstrated this by testing how long it took for subjects’ heart rates to return to normal after performing a stressful task. The smiling subjects were the fastest to recover!
Over time, those short-term benefits from the endorphins released by smiling can compound into something much bigger. By smiling freely and often, we can make ourselves more resilient against all kinds of illnesses — even lowering our chances of getting cancer by reducing the number of stress-induced mutations our cells go through.
When we think of the benefits of smiling, we usually don’t think much farther than how it makes us look younger and more attractive to the people around us, but in the end, smiling can actually add years to our lives. Smile as often as you can so that you can take full advantage of what it can do for you, and make sure you’re taking good care of your smile so that you feel more like sharing it.
Did you know that children smile an average of twenty times as often as adults over the course of a day? Just imagine the health benefits we could enjoy as adults if we smiled as often as we did when we were little. We encourage all of our patients to find every reason you can to smile, and come see us twice a year so that we can help you keep your smile as healthy as it can be!