WHAT’S IN A SMILE?
In the late 1850s, French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne studied the anatomy of smiles by stimulating various facial muscles with electrical currents and concluded that there is a difference between a genuine and a false smile – he contended that only a smile inspired by ‘the sweet emotions of the soul’ could yield genuineness, and that an ungenuine smile can be detected and would ‘unmask a false friend’.
"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."
- Thích Nhat Hanh
Science has since discovered that smiles begin in our sensory corridors – hearing a sweet sound or word; feeling a pleasant touch; seeing a loved one and so on. As this emotional data enters the brain, the left anterior temporal region of the brain is excited and this translates to the surface of the face, where two muscles are roused into action. These two are the zygomatic major, which is in the cheeks and tugs the lips upwards; and the orbicularis oculi, which circles the eye socket and squeezes the corners of the eye into ‘crows feet’. The process lasts only between two-thirds of a second to four seconds, but those who witness it often mirror the action and smile back. This is called a Duchenne smile.
did you know?
A person who displays a genuine smile is considered more trustworthy and attractive. This not only makes people who are recipients of the smile like them more, but also makes them feel more accepted and loved. To increase your social capital, practise smiling in the mirror to access your most genuine grin.
In the 1970s, two psychologists, Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen developed their Facial Action Coding System (FACS), still used today to detect emotion (and particularly used by law-enforcement to detect lying) and for facial recognition technology – FACS captured the precise muscular coordinates behind 3,000 facial expressions and resurrected Duchenne’s distinction between genuine smiles that are linked to positive emotion and other types of smiles.
did you know?
Emoticons have given psychology an insight into genuine smiles. The typical ‘smiley face’ focuses on mouth movement [:-) happy, :-( sad]; whereas Japanese emoticons focus on the eyes [^_^ joyful and ;_; tearful] – according to the Duchenne theory, focussing on the eyes is a better way to establish a genuine smile because the mouth can be manipulated more easily than the eyes.
PUT YOUR TEETH INTO IT
Your teeth play a large role in smiling – it’s difficult to grin widely without flashing your pearly whites, but movies and models have caused many people with less than perfect teeth to hide their smiles. As a child, your first visit to the dentist was probably quite pleasant, albeit filled with stern admonitions to look after your teeth properly. Children are notoriously resistant to brushing their teeth and dental isn’t always something people are most concerned with.
"You can only hold a smile for so long, after that it’s just teeth." - Chuck Palahniuk
But, it’s not just about presenting a sparkling smile – studies have revealed your dental health has a huge role to play in your overall health and well being. Gum disease in particular is fraught with danger, and pregnant woman are told to be particularly careful about ensuring their dental health for the sake of their unborn child’s health. Gum health has also been linked to erectile dysfunction, among myriad other maladies.
Natural dentist Dr Ray Behm offers the following recipe for upping the health of your gums:
A CHILD’S SMALL, SOFT, THREE-ROWED TOOTHBRUSH
COLLOIDAL SILVER (IF YOU HAVE AMALGAM FILLINGS) OR ALOE VERA
- Combine the dry ingredients – three parts baking soda to one part salt.
- Pour a heaped teaspoon of the dry mix into the palm of your hand and add a drop of the liquid to create a thick paste.
- Load the toothbrush with the mixture and angle the brush to 45 degree, placing it where the tooth meets the gum.
- Push the brush as far as you can go without pain into this area and use a small wiggling motion with the brush to force the mixture into this gum area.
- Repeat this until you’ve covered the upper and lower gum lines. Whenever necessary, spit out the mixture and saliva. There’s no need to rinse afterwards, unless you want to.
While a toothache indicates a trip to the dentist is necessary, to stave off pain in the meantime, use one of these natural cures:
- Clove oil is a natural topical anaesthetic – soak a cotton ball with oil of cloves and apply it to the affected tooth
- Cayenne pepper will hurt a little when you rub it on, but once the initial sting abates, you’ll feel a lot better
- A ripe fig, cut open and rubbed on the tooth is an ancient Hindu remedy. Repeat the rubbings every 15 minutes until the pain abates.
Use one of the following recipes to keep your smile bright and your breath sweet:
- Mix a teaspoon each of peppermint, rosemary and lavender herbs – then put 1 teaspoon of the mixture in a cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and let cool before using as a mouthwash.
- Pour two cups of boiling water over three tablespoons of angelica seeds. Mix in caraway, rosemary, peppermint and lemon verbena. Cover and steep until cooled. Strain and store in a tightly closed container.
RUB A STRAWBERRY CUT IN HALF OVER THE TEETH AND GUMS. LEAVE FOR 15 MINUTES AND THEN BRUSH GENTLY WITH WARM WATER. THIS WILL CLEANSE YOUR TEETH AND PROMOTE HEALTHY GUMS
It seems that people with crooked smiles end up being good leaders – this is because they work harder at developing positive social skills to overcome what’s perceived as a shortcoming. This is also evidenced when you look at the other side of the coin – people with symmetrical smiles are more likely to be elected to public offices because they are perceived to be more commanding and trustworthy.
- A smile that pulls more to the left indicates a person who is better at connecting with others, while the reverse (pulling to the right) shows insincerity.
- Research in the UK has indicated that 93% of women use smiles to appear friendly, while 50% of men use their grins to attract the opposite sex.