How Smiling Affects Your Body

Smiling Affects Your Body

Published by Dr. Charles Gemmi

A Board Certified Orthodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, Dr. Charles Gemmi has been a practicing orthodontist with Orthodontics Limited since 2000 and is a member of the teaching staff at Einstein Medical Center. Orthodontics Limited is a Diamond+ Provider of Invisalign in Philadelphia and Hatboro, PA.

The power of a smile. A smile can do many things. It can boost your mood, make you seem more attractive and confident and give you a more positive outlook on life, but did you know that it also has an impact on your body as well? Smiling also promotes physical wellbeing as well.

Here are some ways smiling affects your body:

Lowers stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your body increasing inflammation and causing spikes in heart rate and blood pressure. Studies have shown however that when you smile during a stressful situation that you will be able to stay calmer and you won’t feel the same level of side effects of stress. Try to smile the next time you find yourself in the hot seat and see if it helps. When your body is in a constant state of stress, it might feel like it is at war with the world around you. By smiling and focusing on positive thoughts, you can help your body better manage whatever the world will throw at you. People around you will be able to immediately see the difference.

Similar to a Runner’s High

We all know how important exercise is for our health. Not only does it help us maintain a healthy weight, we keep our muscles strong and stress and inflammation at a minimum. But did you know that smiling can have a similar effect on you as running? Just like endorphins are released when you run, they are released when you smile. These chemicals are what boost your mood and make you feel happier and less stressed out. While you should certainly exercise every day, it is good to know that smiling can also work in situations where you can just go out for a run. Think about a work situation when you are stuck in a stressful meeting. Escaping for some exercise and fresh air might not be possible, but luckily there are no limitations on the ability to smile.

Strengthens your Immune System

If you have ever visited a children’s hospital, I am sure you have witnessed firsthand how smiles and positive feelings can help our bodies heal. When you smile, your body increases its production of white blood cells which strengthens the immune system. One recent study found that sick children who laughed and smiled more had a higher white blood cell count. You have probably heard the expression, “Laughter is the best medicine”; well it should probably include smiles too. Smiles have been proven to make you happier and less stressed just like laughter can. Give yourself the best chance of recovery when ill by reducing stress, smiling more and appreciating the good things in your life.

Good for your heart

Your heart health is so important as you get older and your risk for a heart attack or stroke increases. A study in the journal of Psychological Science found though that being quick with a smile in life might help protect your heart from stress-induced inflammation. Conducted at the University of Kansas, the study broke about 170 American college students into three groups and told them they were participating in a multi-tasking experiment. Students in each group were asked to copy the facial expressions of a research assistant while holding chopsticks between their teeth. At the same time they were asked to complete a stressful task. All the student’s heart rates were monitored before, during and after the experiment and students were asked to describe how they felt.

The researchers found that those students who were smiling were able to recover more quickly from stress than their counterparts could and that they had the lowest heart rates of all the students. If you are more susceptible to heart problems, then you might want to think about better ways to manage stress, including smiling more.

Improves cellular health

It is amazing the impact stress has on our bodies. When you are tense and stressed all your cells feel it too. Too much rigidity in our cells can overthrow our body’s sense of balance and make us more susceptible to cell mutations and disease. When you smile, however, your body relaxes including the cell walls making it easier to find and repair damage. Cell mutations that occur in some cancers have been linked to stress levels. Protect yourself better from illnesses by smiling more often.

Protect your smile

Of course good oral hygiene plays a role in all of this as well. Plaque buildup can lead to gum disease which can weaken your heart and your immune system. Make sure that you see the dentist for a cleaning every six months and that you correct any problems as soon as you can. When we are in pain or are embarrassed about the condition of our smile, we are not going to be comfortable smiling. Instead we are going to hide our mouth behind our hand when we talk and only give tight-lipped smiles in photographs. Don’t miss out on all the benefits of a smile. Talk to your dentist today to see how you can get a healthier, more beautiful smile. There are more affordable solutions out there that you might not realize. From teeth whitening to veneers to braces, most cosmetic dentists offer you a chance to get that smile you have always dreamed about.

Talk to friends and family for their recommendations on dentists and do some research on your own. Weigh both cost and need and ask them what the best solution might be for you. It might surprise you. Just make sure you go with a dentist that you trust and feel comfortable with.

The bottom line though is that stress can have a devastating impact on our lives, but unfortunately it is not so easy to escape from. Luckily, smiles are free and can be plentiful if you stay focused on positive emotions. Isn’t easier to smile more now and reduce your strength than to have to pay for lots of medications and surgeries later in life when all the ill effects of stress catch up with you? Smile. It is is good for you, mind and body.

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One response to “How Smiling Affects Your Body”

  1. Gail Dempster says:

    Could you please tell me the source that claims that smiling produces white blood cells? Thank you! gail

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