The Power of a Beautiful Smile

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

You’re Beautiful When You Smile – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I know we’ve all had days where things aren’t going right. Maybe we get a flat tire, or are running behind schedule all day, or forget to do something important. And then someone, maybe a cashier or someone in the elevator, unexpectedly brightens our day with their warm smile…. and the day doesn’t seem as bad. There’s something wonderful about a smile. We all value a smile to say so much more than words. A smile is optimism, hope, strength, warmth, positivity, beautiful. And more.

We show our appreciation of the smile in the celebrities, models, and actors we admire. Stars like Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock, and Brad Pitt have smiles that radiate and light up rooms.

Our appreciation for smiles also carries over in the advertising corporations create. They know the importance of a smile, and want to be associated with it. McDonald’s says “We love to see you smile,” Little Debbie cakes say “Unwrap a smile,” and there’s a car commercial that shows smiles and kindness are contagious.

Your Beautiful Smile Conveys Many Emotions

So are smiles fundamental in our lives? Often my patients hear compliments on their smiles from strangers who will go out of their way to tell them, “What a great smile you have!” This further shows human appreciation for a nice smile. And obviously it’s not just any facial expression that’s appreciated, because I’ve never heard anyone comment to another, “That’s a great frown!” or “What a nice grimace!”

What if we choose not to smile at anyone, ever? Is that so horrible? Do you remember several years ago, a 5-year-old girl by the name of Lauren Deveney of Virginia who couldn’t smile due to a medical condition called Mobius syndrome? She was not able to smile nor blink because she was born without the active nerves needed to make facial expressions. It made national news because we all felt it would be a tragedy if this little girl was unable to show her happiness and pleasure to her family and to the world. And we were relieved when we learned that she could be helped through surgery.

Scientists probably felt relieved, too, as studies have shown that a smile is a two-way communication from yourself. A smile can convey confidence, acceptance, joy, and pleasure to another human. But what’s also true is when we make ourselves smile, we send a message to our brain to be happier, lighthearted. These positive emotions let us feel better about ourselves, and from what I’ve found through examples of my patients, do better in life.

A Beautiful Smile is Essential in Communicating with Others

This non-verbal communication is among the most essential in our daily lives. Did you know that we are able to detect a smile in another human from 300 feet away, which is about the distance of one football field! Hard to believe? Well, even though you may not be able to see broccoli in their teeth, you certainly are able to know a person is smiling from that far distance.

Our smiles do communicate so much. They can say without a word how much confidence we have in ourselves, our acceptance of someone else, our heartfelt appreciation of what others do for us, or our interest in dating someone. It’s such a pinnacle part of communication and extremely hard to think about life without a smile. Just imagine how much greater we’ll be able to perform at our professional lives because of smiling.

Is just any type of smile okay, or are some better than others? Apparently there are 18 different smiles which express emotions, from pure joy to mild amusement to beaming pride. Two smiles in particular look different to us, because of the emotion behind it. A natural, spontaneous, true smile of enjoyment shows from the sparkling of our eyes down to the flashing of our pearly whites. This is because the contraction of the Zygomaticus muscles run from our eyes, across our cheeks, to the corners of our mouths. Thus the old adage, “A sincere smile is visible in the eyes.”

Contrast this with a “conscious smile” or a false smile, where someone may not feel true gladness or joy, but needs to smile anyway. This smile may look similar in the lips and the teeth, but doesn’t quite reach the eyes. It may look slightly asymmetrical or lopsided, as the person is not truly glad to see you and just faking the smile. Perhaps this is the basis for the saying, “Never trust someone with a crooked smile.”

My Challenge to You

So keep this in mind as you smile at friends, co-workers, new acquaintances, prospective clients or dating partners. The warmth of your smile can be perceived by others, whether you think so or not.

I challenge you this month to see how many people you can make smile. Smiles are meant to be shared. Remember, you are given an unlimited supply of smiles, to last a lifetime. If you are unhappy with your smile, don’t despair as current cosmetic dental procedures can help you find even more reasons to smile. So smile beautifully and let’s spread Aloha around throughout the year! You really do have a beautiful smile! And remember, the beauty is not only in your smile, but also in you.

Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on its head nearly a decade ago , replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!

Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back A Smile,” a charitable foundation of the AACD which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.