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Oral Care and Health Daily

The Real Benefits of Smiling

Flashing a grin boosts health and wellness -- as long as you''re smiling for real!

Most of us can do a pretty good job at faking a smile when we need to. It’s a skill that comes in handy when we have to pretend to love a friend’s hideous new outfit or feign interest in a co-worker’s album of cat photos. But here’s a surprise: False smiles can actually have a negative impact on our mood.

Researchers at Michigan State University recently discovered that customer service workers who fake their smiles have bleaker moods and lower productivity than employees who offer genuine smiles. “Smiling for the sake of smiling can lead to emotional exhaustion and withdrawal,” says Brent Scott, one of the researchers. Those phony smiles had the worst effect on women.

With a genuine smile -- also known as a Duchenne smile -- the corners of your mouth turn up and the skin around the corners of your eyes crinkles. Amazingly, research has found that women who sport genuine grins in their high school yearbooks were happier 30 years later than those who faked their smiles.

So how can you summon a genuine smile when you feel like flashing a fake? Try to cultivate positive thoughts by visualizing a fabulous vacation or a funny experience.

And make sure to brush, floss and see your dentist: A study from the University of Michigan found that the more visible signs of gum disease a person has, the less likely they are to smile.