Why do Humans Smile & Laugh and do Dentures Change Things?
Despite differences in skin color, language, and geography, humans share a universal language: the smile. If you’ve experienced tooth loss, poor gum health, or are just unhappy with your smile, you know how important it is to your confidence.
Do dentures change things? How can a quality set of dentures improve your self-confidence, the first impression you make on others, and even your quality of living? Let’s look at why humans smile and how a smile you feel good about can impact your life.
The Human Smile
Whether you’re happy, proud, joyful, or just have a general sense of well-being, there’s an almost guaranteed way you’re going to express your emotion. Smiles are universal, and they are not learned behaviors.
Smiling and laughter have been studied for many centuries. Over the years, scientists and psychologists have determined that there are two primary muscles responsible for your smile. One we can control and the other muscle acts involuntarily.
The first muscle involved in a smile is the zygomatic major. The corners of your mouth are controlled by the zygomatic major, and you can control them consciously. You can actually feel this muscle in action when you politely smile at a stranger or “force” a laugh at a joke that’s not funny.
The second of the muscles is the orbicularis oculi. This muscle can’t be consciously controlled. It controls the area surrounding your eyes. Can you tell the difference between a genuine smile and one that’s fabricated? Usually, a genuine smile involves the orbicularis oculi, and you can identify true emotion by looking at a person’s eyes.
The Human Laugh
Most laughter is social. When you’re at a dinner party, engaging in a conversation with a friend, or watching a stand-up comedian, laughter is a social cue that you’re engaged, sociable, and friendly.
Of course, you’ll laugh by yourself, too. Watching funny YouTube videos or recalling humorous events of your day you may find yourself chuckling or laughing to yourself, sometimes uncontrollably!
Laughter, like a smile, is not a learned behavior. Babies as young as three months old laugh in response to pleasurable interactions or to physical stimuli. Apes, too, laugh. Gorillas and other apes laugh when they’re playing, wrestling or even when they’re tickled!
Similar to a person’s smile, laughter is universal. Humans around the globe recognize genuine laughter as a sign of friendliness, acceptance, and comfort. Put simply, your smile and your laugh are important to your social well-being, and a smile you aren’t confident in can negatively impact you in many ways.
Many Types of Smiles
As noted above, scientists have been studying the human smile for centuries. We know that they’re not always voluntary, but we’ve also learned that smiles are situational.
Depending upon which study you refer to, there are anywhere from 3 to 17 (or more) different types of smiles. The situation in which you find yourself will determine the smile you give to your fellow human. It could be one of dominance, one of happiness, contentment, reward, or many other emotions. We may even smile as we tell a lie.
The way you feel on the inside is often reflected on the outside. If you feel comfortable, you’re more likely to have a “resting” smile than if you’re in an uncomfortable situation. Similarly, if you’re anxious or nervous, your face will naturally react with an expression that’s more of a frown.
We don’t know precisely why our bodies react in a smile. Endorphins released from the brain can signal your facial muscles to react in a smile. But social, “forced” smiles are universal and we’re not entirely certain why this is.
Smiles and Well-Being: A Clear Connection
If you have one or more missing or broken teeth, you know the damage it can do to your self-confidence. Unfortunately, that lack of confidence becomes clear to others as well.
Consider your next job interview. How do you approach your prospective employer if you’re self-conscious about your teeth? Do you offer a tight-lipped grin? Do you simply not smile at all, choosing to hide your teeth behind your lips?
It’s been proven that in the first few seconds of your interview—of any first interaction with another person—a smile will carry a message. When you smile, you signal to the other person that you are enthusiastic, easygoing, friendly, and approachable.
This isn’t just true for interviews, of course. Workplace meetings, first dates, PTA meetings and just about any other social interaction you can imagine will be impacted by the confidence you have in your smile.
Your Smile: Others’ Perception
If your teeth are yellowing, broken, missing, or crooked, others may, unfortunately, judge you for it. In fact, there have been studies conducted on just that.
People with straight, white teeth are perceived to be smarter and more successful than those with less-than-perfect smiles. Of course, you know this is not necessarily the case. However, in many instances, perceptions are everything. That job interview, for example, may go south if your teeth aren’t up to your interviewer’s expectations.
Two-thirds of Americans are more likely to remember an attractive feature than one that’s unattractive. The inverse of that, obviously, is that a third of the people you meet are likely to remember you by your less-than-ideal smile. And almost a quarter of Americans (24%) remember a person’s smile long after meeting them.
It may not seem fair that others judge you on your appearance, but it’s just human nature. In the same way that people may judge you for your clothes, your weight, or even your scent, your smile can make or break an interaction with someone you meet.
Your Smile: Your Own Perception
Those of you who are reading this who have crooked, cracked, or missing teeth, will know that it impacts how you feel about yourself. In fact, your dental health can affect your life in wide-reaching ways.
When you feel self-conscious about your appearance, you may suffer one or more of the following:
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Reluctance to seek out new opportunities
- Reluctance to date or find a new partner
- Increased depression or anxiety, especially in social situations
If you’re not confident in your dental health and the appearance of your teeth, you’re less likely to smile and laugh in ways that are considered the social norm. Hiding your teeth may make you feel a bit more socially adept, but others may perceive this as standoffishness or even unfriendliness.
Your Dentist and Your Smile
Modern dentistry provides many ways that you can improve your smile, helping you to feel more relaxed and less self-conscious in social situations.
If your teeth are yellowing and dull, talk to your dentist about whitening and polishing procedures available to you. Chipped teeth can often be repaired with a simple procedure or fixed with crowns or bridges.
If your teeth are crooked or you have a gap you don’t love, your dentist can direct you to an orthodontist or other practitioner who can assist you. Invisible braces are becoming more and more common, and there are even “at-home” treatments available now.
If you and your dentist determine that dentures are the right treatment for you, you still have quite a few options. Some clinics even offer same-day treatment for eligible patients.
Many patients are hesitant to look at dentures as a treatment for a less-than-perfect smile. The procedure is thought to be invasive and time-consuming. In fact, some dentures can temporarily prohibit you from participating in normal activities. Others, however, are simple and non-invasive.
Dentures and Your Self-Confidence
There are quite a few different types of dentures, and not all are suitable for every patient. Most commonly, a patient will receive full or partial dentures. In other circumstances, a patient can get custom dentures, implant-supported dentures or others.
You and your practitioner will decide together which denture option is right for you. Do know that, in the case of full dentures, you can expect to wait 8-12 weeks for a complete set of dentures. Keep this in mind as you plan for work and other activities.
Whichever type of denture you ultimately receive, the procedure will do wonders for your self-confidence! Dentures can have some immediate and positive effects on your smile and on other aspects of your social interactions.
First, dentures may help you speak more clearly. When you’re missing teeth, your speech may be impaired by a whistle, a slur, or even a “spray.” Dentures will take a little time to get used to, but before you know it you’ll be speaking clearly and confidently.
Secondly, imagine eating the foods you’ve been missing out on! Eating certain fruits and even crunchy tacos and other treats will all be possible again with dentures. That means no more awkward social situations or declining your favorite treats for fear of pain.
Third, you’re going to feel more confident about your smile, which will allow you to laugh more freely! Remember the days of covering your mouth when you laughed because you were embarrassed by your teeth? You can now laugh with a big, confident grin that others will notice and enjoy.
Can Dentures Change Your Life?
In some ways, dentures absolutely can change your life. We mentioned earlier in this guide that self-consciousness can prevent you from laughing and smiling publicly. That, in turn, can impact you socially in a negative way.
Imagine walking into that job interview with a healthy, confident smile on your face. Or smiling for a picture in your dating profile or social media. Imagine laughing aloud at a joke your boss tells (even if it’s terrible and makes you die a little inside).
How would your life change if you had a healthy-looking smile? Restoring your social life is certainly one positive benefit of dentures. But have you considered how others will view you?
Remember that a healthy, beautiful smile is something that two-thirds of the people you meet will notice and remember. Your clean, white smile will have others perceive you as intelligent, social, and successful. You’ll be more likely to be perceived as desirable for dating.
While it may take a bit of time to grow accustomed to your new smile, denture wearers are overwhelmingly pleased with the impact of dentures on many aspects of their lives.
Keeping a Healthy Smile with Dentures
If you and your practitioner have decided that dentures are the right option for you, it’s important that you understand how to keep your mouth healthy. Dentures, like natural teeth, can stain and smell if not cared for.
To maintain the health and beautiful appearance of your mouth with dentures, there are three important steps you must follow every single day.
First, ensure you’re rinsing and cleaning them at least once a day. After eating, you’ll want to remove and rinse your dentures. Once a day, preferably before bed, use an XODENT cleaning solution to soak them and remove all of the bacteria and soap that has accumulated.
Second, be sure to take your dentures out of your mouth while you sleep. You increase your risk of dental disease when you wear your dentures around the clock.
Finally, be sure to brush your gums and tongue at least once each day. After meals is preferable. Use ordinary toothpaste and a soft brush to remove bacteria and food from your mouth.
More Tips for a Confident Smile and Laugh
Your smile and your laughter are two very important components of your social well-being. As we learned, both are involuntary in some cases, and when that spontaneous laughter springs up, you want to put your best face forward.
Whether you’ve opted for whitening, dentures, crowns, or no dental procedure at all, there are steps you can take to maintain a healthy and inviting smile.
First, avoid tobacco. Whether you’re sporting natural teeth, veneers, or dentures, tobacco can stain your teeth. Of course, we know that tobacco use can also lead to various types of cancers. You should be using nicotine products, anyway!
Secondly, remember that wine and coffee can stain your pearly whites. Rinse your dentures after each time you drink either. It may look silly, but you can slightly counter the effects of staining if you drink through a straw. It’s not fail-proof but it may help.
Brush your teeth regularly, whether they’re natural or false. Use a soft-bristled brush if you have dentures (we include 2 in every XODENT kit!)
Don’t forget your gums and your tongue in your dental care routine. Brush both regularly and floss your teeth to ensure you remove all the food and other gunk from between your teeth.
Finally, be sure to visit the dentist regularly. Every six months is optimal unless you discover any new issues with your teeth, gums, or tongue.
Smiling, Laughter, and Your Confidence
A new set of dentures is an investment, certainly. You can expect to pay a few thousand for your new look. But the benefits usually outweigh that cost, so you can rest assured that your investment is a sound one.
Dentures will change the way you feel about your smile and yourself. And the positive effects of your new smile are more far-reaching than just the obvious.
You can’t always choose when you smile. That’s why it’s important to maintain or re-establish a healthy set of pearly whites. Socially, you’ll feel more confident. You’ll be more willing to explore new social situations, and even pursue new career opportunities.
Because you’re now able to eat the foods you once were, you’re more readily able to make healthy food choices. This can lead to weight loss and better nutrition, given proper nutrition and a balanced diet.
Others will perceive you as more friendly and more approachable. This may mean more social opportunities for you, including dating prospects you didn’t previously have.
More fearlessness and less anxiety are further positive effects of your new smile. When you feel confident, you can actually increase your ability to succeed. And when you feel good about yourself, you’re more apt to treat others with kindness!
This is just a sampling of how your new smile can have a positive impact on your entire well-being. In short, your improved smile can equate to an improved life.
Conclusion: Your Smile, Your Dentures, and You
Your smile is a universal signal to the world that you’re content, happy, friendly, and receptive to interaction. When you don’t feel confident in your smile, that can impact your life in far-reaching ways.
Fixing your smile to reflect a “you” that you are confident in can lead to an increase in social activity, career success, and general well-being. Decreased anxiety and depression can also result from a healthy, clean smile.
Whether you choose dentures or any other cosmetic treatment, or you choose no treatment at all, your self-confidence will be reflected in your smile.