The smile is perhaps one of the most common and popular of human gestures. Smiling has embedded deep in our culture and society, and has been tackled in literally thousands of songs, books, paintings, and poems. But, for now, let’s forget about its poetic allure, and talk about smiling as seen through the eyes of science. So, what makes a good smile, what does our smile tell about us?
The Anatomy of a Good Smile
You can search online and end up with thousands of articles on how to smile; there are even hundreds of instructional videos to guide you through it. Scientists dissect the smile by focusing on the main body parts involved in a smile: (1) the teeth, and (2) the lips. A publication in the “Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics” entitled “10 Commandments of Smile Esthetics” outlines a checklist for dental practitioners to assess a patient’s smile. The study suggested for dentists to watch out for lip volume and further focus on the teeth; specifically teeth size, symmetry, ratio, spacing, color and shape, gingival display (visibility of gums), and angulation. That said, you can always go to an orthodontic dental laboratory to have your smile assessed.
It’s All About the Teeth
Majority of studies pay attention more on the teeth (and gums) than any other facial feature when assessing smiles. Curiously, these studies and their participants have focused more on the actual anatomy of their teeth and mouth rather than the execution of the smile itself. People tend to judge their smile by their teeth size, color (referring to whiteness and/or stains), alignment (straightness, crookedness), and visibility of their gums. But those with issues with teeth spacing, stains, or crookedness, shouldn’t worry. A visit to your local dentist who has equipment from an orthodontic dental laboratory would help you get that confident smile.
You Are Your Smile
Physicians would sometimes check patients’ teeth and gums to get a glimpse of their physical health and check for any underlying disease. This suggests that your smile says a lot about your physical health. But, a study entitled “Smile Attractiveness: Self-Perception and Influence” went as far as to see any links between a person’s smile and their personality using a questionnaire and personality test called the Dutch Personality Index. Participants showing the disproportional gingival display (or in layman’s terms, “showing uneven/awkward gums”) correlated with self-esteem issues and neuroticism. While visibility (and position) of teeth correlated to dominant personalities. In other words, your smile tells more about you than just your physical health.
Now that you know all these, why should you smile? Well, a study in 2010 showed that smiling improves your mood even you’re having exposed to negative situations. So if you’re having a bad day or just feeling down, science recommends that you smile, you’ll feel better. Additionally, an international group of researchers conducted a study in 2015 and found that smiling affects how you see other people. The study theorizes that we tend to perceive people as smiling when we’re smiling, proving somehow that if you smile, the world does smile back at you.
Science has identified the benefits and foundation of a smile, and how a smile reflects both your mental and physical health. All these years of studies point towards one message: take care of your smile, and your smile will take care of you.