Smiling is one of the most natural movements a body makes. In the first few weeks of infancy, babies automatically begin smiling on their own. Within about two months, they begin to recognize when others are smiling at them, and, by this time, they’re reciprocating in kind. Some sources say smile an average of 200 times a day, the average woman smiles 62 times a day, and the average man smiles only eight. A smile is one of the greatest gifts you can give somebody. Equally, it’s one of the greatest gifts to receive. Wouldn’t life be great if we all smiled more?
The physiology of a smile.
Over 100 years ago, French neurologist, G.B. Duchenne distinguished a genuine smile from a fake smile. A genuine smile engages the muscles around the mouth and the eyes. Dubbed the Duchenne Smile, this is a marker of authentic enjoyment, happiness, elation, pleasure and enjoyment. A fake smile involves the voluntary contraction of solely the muscles around the mouth. A genuine smile has been linked to tremendous health benefits around the release of endorphins, the morphine-like molecules in our brain that elevate our mood.
A strong smile has power. It increases the production of serotonin, which has been scientifically shown to elevate mood. A full, genuine smile automatically exudes confidence. It is a widely-held belief that people with great smiles are more self-assured.
Brightening your smile.
How often do you find yourself reticent to smile because self-consciousness about your teeth overpowers your genuine feelings? Achieve a smile you are proud to flash with professional and/or over-the-counter whitening treatments. While the most effective whitening method will vary from person to person, here are some important guidelines to be mindful of in order to make sure you safely achieve a beautiful, white smile:
- Efficacious and safe whitening is determined by the appropriate amount of contact time of the gel on the teeth and the optimal concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the gel. The appropriate contact time is dependent upon the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide in the gel. A higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide yields shorter contact time, but must be administered under the supervision of a dental professional. Lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide gel are safe to use at home but require longer contact time to yield results. Always use a delivery system that targets the gel to the teeth, mitigating the risk of pain and sensitivity, a common side effect of hydrogen peroxide coming in contact with the soft tissue.
- There are four over-the-counter whitening options available for home use today: paint-on’s, whitening strips, tray and gels, and whitening devices. In my professional opinion, whitening devices are the most effective option. Look for a system that uses light and heat in a closed system mouthpiece. The closed system prevents the whitening oxygens from escaping, increasing the contact time on the teeth, while the warming heat accelerates the activity of the whitening oxygen, decreasing exposure time and therefore sensitivity. This type of system will yield a five to seven shade improvement when used five days in a row (longer for the more difficult cases). In my opinion, this breakthrough whitening technology stands far above its competition and is available in both the professional and over-the-counter setting.
- Seek a dental professional who subscribes to the philosophy of dual whitening. Dual whitening combines professional and at-home whitening regimens, giving the patient an appropriate amount of time to safely reach a whiter shade without sensitivity or irritation.
- If you experience pain when whitening, stop. If your body were a car, this pain would be the check engine light on the dashboard, alerting you to evaluate. Read the manufacturer’s directions and always consult a medical professional prior to starting any whitening regimen.
The bottom line: Smile more.
Don’t let inhibitions related to your smile prevent you from expressing innate positive emotions. Smiling is healthy and boosts self-confidence, so whiten your smile and share it with those around you. As Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Let us all smile more often.