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The Value of a Smile

When something makes you happy, you smile. It’s automatic. It’s innate. It’s human. Now imagine living your life, day in, day out, fighting this natural expression.

It only takes a lift of your cheek muscles and a raising of the corners of your lips to create it. The formation of small crinkles around your eyes and a slight twinkle accompany a truly genuine one.

A smile is the easy to identify, hard to resist expression that makes you happy whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of it. It’s one of the few things that human beings have in common. To be accurate, it’s one of six things that human beings have in common.

In 1872, evolution pioneer Charles Darwin discovered the Six Universal Expressions of Emotion: Anger, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise and Happiness.  Human beings across the globe all express these six non-verbal emotions the same way, allowing anyone to successfully communicate non-verbally with another, no matter their language or culture.

For instance, to express the emotion of happiness, you smile. Many people smile with lips apart, showing their pearly whites and all their glory. But for some people, happy or not, smiling is out of the question.

A recent study by Bupa, an international healthcare group, found that “28 percent of people don’t show their smile when taking pictures on social media because they assume their teeth are unattractive.”

While the non-verbal cue of smiling is easily taken for granted, there are others who are continuously making a effort to avoid forming this innate expression due to embarrassment regarding their teeth.

Of the 327 million people in the United States, 37% are missing at least one tooth, and 11% have no teeth at all. Not one.

This means that 36 million Americans, or over one out of every ten people in this country, are edentulous, and thus disinclined to smile.

The edentulous population is missing out on the many values that the non-verbal cue of happiness, smiling specifically, provides. Easily the most powerful of all human expressions, smiling can be the driver in you leading a healthy, happy, and quite fulfilling life, by having a positive impact on the parts of life you value the most.

Dentists who specialize in denture and implant surgery do so because of the lives that these Americans lead. A recent survey at Affordable Dentures & Implants (AD&I), the nation’s largest

Affordable Dentures & Implants

network of tooth replacement specialists found that the opportunity to impact patients’ lives was by far the number one reason dentists joined AD&I. It’s also the top reason they stay with the company.

These dentists see the need. In the same survey, one affiliated practice owner at Affordable Dentures & Implants wrote, “The ability to give our patients a smile that they are proud of is EVERYTHING.” These highly skilled dentists continuously perfect their craft all because they know the life-changing influence that a set of teeth, and the smile it creates, has on one’s life.

 

SMILING AND YOUR SOCIAL LIFE

Whenever you’re introduced to someone the first thing you do is look at their face. Besides being the polite thing to do, looking at someone’s face is how your mind is able to identify, recognize and store this new person in your brain, filing it away for another day. Whether a person chooses to smile at this meeting will impact how you feel about them.

If you smile, you come off as approachable and those around you are put at ease. It’s a natural human reaction.

Smiles are what connect you to others and are actually contagious. When someone smiles at you your natural tendency is to return the smile. Thus, by smiling, which has tremendous health benefits (more to come on this), you are passing along these health benefits to people who reciprocate your grin.

But what about that person you walk by on the street, who doesn’t return the smile you offer them? When this happens you immediately make an assumption that this person is either unfriendly or having a bad day; but the reality could be neither. Socializing and meeting new people can be extremely uncomfortable for those with complete or partial edentulism.

Princeton psychologists found that “all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face.” And because a) first impressions are everything, as they say, and b) a smile is one of the first things people notice about someone, the discomfort in social situations for an edentulous person is understandable.

And so, to avoid awkward moments, an edentulous person may not smile. The constant looks of shock or judgement from those on the receiving end of their smile has caused them embarrassment and discomfort again and again. Not smiling has become their defense mechanism and way of life.

The edentulous population may choose to avoid social situations altogether, instead conforming to a lifestyle of isolation, further harming their overall well-being.

A multi-analysis of 148 studies concluded that “social relationships influence the health outcomes of adults” and recommended that health professionals among others “should take social relationships as seriously as other risk factors that affect mortality.” Socializing is a key element to your livelihood and survival and an opportunity to show others your true feelings, intentions and selves.

SMILING AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

If you can’t smile or don’t feel comfortable forming this expression, you send mixed messages and usually negative ones. You have a decreased likelihood of making a connection, which sure as heck comes in handy when making an appointment, securing a date or landing a job.

Speaking of employment, a healthy set of teeth can be the difference between being hired or someone else getting the gig. Sixty two percent of respondents in a recent survey by the British Dental Association believe that missing teeth and poor oral hygiene “would hinder a candidate’s chances of securing employment.”

In another study by the American Dental Association 28 percent of 18-34 year olds agreed with the statement, “The appearance of my mouth and teeth affects my ability to interview for a job.”

This means that candidates who are edentulous or missing walk into interviews already feeling out of sorts and have one of two choices; to smile or not.

If they smile in these interviews, they may fear that the employer will judge their smile. The judgement could be based on stereotypes that someone missing teeth is lazy, lacks confidence and is not polished enough to represent their company.

Choosing to not smile in an interview can make an uncomfortable situation even more uncomfortable. “Nearly 40% of hiring managers say that failing to smile is a red flag for them during an interview.” Smiling shows friendliness and confidence and puts both the interviewer and interviewee at ease, reducing the nervousness and stress that interviews bring.

Either way edentulous people may feel that they have a strike against them. That they just can’t win.

SMILING AND YOUR HEALTH EMOTIONAL HEALTH

“There is no health without mental health…” – Vikram Patel

Perhaps the biggest impact a smile has is on your mental health. As everything you do and say stems from your emotions, the health of your relationships, job opportunities and physicality all depend on your emotional well-being.

Smiling, much like exercise, has a huge positive impact on your brain. “When we smile, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness”  (Yale Scientific). Smiling also releases serotonin, a chemical that helps you cope with stress. In essence, smiling makes you feel good. Really good.

As those feel good chemicals are released, you feel happy; once you feel happy, you are inclined to smile. And around and around it goes.

But for those who are edentulous and, therefore, less likely to smile, achieving this cycle of happiness is unimaginable. In fact, for them this cycle can easily go in the opposite direction.

As noted before, those suffering from tooth loss may not socialize as much as others, leading to loneliness and seclusion, and easily spurring depression and anxiety. The results of a study by Scientific Reports concluded that “edentulism was associated with a 1.57 times higher odds for depression among those aged <50 years.”

Living with depression has a negative impact on your lifestyle, affecting “how you sleep and eat, your education and career, your relationships, health, and concentration,” (Anxiety & Depression Association of America.) It’s interesting to note that the same effects that depression has on one’s life are almost identical to edentulism.

Therefore, smiling, the antithesis of depression, is the first step to a healthy mental state, which then creates a positive ripple effect on other aspects of your life: the professional, the social and the physical.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Smiling and your consequential ability to better manage stress doesn’t just impact you above the neck; You are physically healthier too. For one, your immune system gets a boost. As your stress levels go down, your body’s ability to fight infection goes up, leaving you healthier and less susceptible to illness.

Additionally, as The Cleveland Clinic reports, stress can lead to “headaches, an upset stomach, elevated blood pressure” as well as more serious and even fatal medical problems like “heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.”

The reduction of stress by adding smiling to your day impacts your lifestyle and extends your life. Smiling also plays a role in how you look, as people who smile are viewed as more attractive and younger looking. And who doesn’t want those two descriptors next to their name?

To sum up, a healthy mind leads to a healthy body and vice versa. A depressed self-conscious person is more likely to be unmotivated and causally lethargic. On the contrary, a content (smiling) confident person is more likely to be motivated and active, helping to maintain a healthy mind and in doing so, creating a healthy body.

From mental and physical health, to social and professional relationships, there is a plethora of reasons for smiling. One’s discomfort with smiling yet a yearning to experience all of the good things that come with it, is what leads people to start a new life chapter through dentures or implants. It’s a way to get back so much life.

Smiling gives you the ability to get up in the morning and walk out the front door. Feeling comfortable with the expression helps you engage with a stranger who passes you by and say thank you to the cashier who gives you your change. It gives you the confidence to shake a hiring manager’s hand and attend a social event. The will to smile provides you a new outlook on the world around you and on the person within.

WHAT A SMILE CONVEYS

For those who do not smile because of missing teeth, they suffer consequences that go beyond not being able to chew and eat certain foods.

Those living with partial or complete edentulism want what so many others take for granted. To have those crows feet around the eyes; those lines that only decades of smiling can cause. The same lines that many people spend exorbitant amounts of money on expensive eye cream to hide.

Perhaps this is the first time you’ve truly thought about how valuable a smile is. What a smile can do and convey…

A smile shows happiness.

A smile shows interest.

A smile shows confidence.

A smile shows empathy.

A smile shows nervousness.

A smile shows pride.

A smile shows embarrassment.

A smile shows approval.

A smile shows kindness.

A smile shows confusion.

A smile shows concern.

A smile shows acknowledgement.

A smile shows approachability.

A smile shows friendliness.

A smile shows gratitude.

That last smile is quite a powerful one. For it’s the smile that patients who come to Affordable Dentures & Implants leave with. It’s the smile that recent dentistry graduates and those decades into the industry alike create every day on the job at AD&I.

Dentist Michael Powell, an AD&I Practice Owner in Port Charlotte, FL is proud that by working for the company he is “able to completely transform [patients’] smiles in a single day!” since AD&I offers patients’ same-day dentures.


Are you ready to create smiles?
Learn more about a career at Affordable Dentures & Implants and begin the journey of bringing the value of a smile back into people’s lives.

 



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