There are over 7,000 languages and 3,000 cultures around the world. One universal thing that transcends and unites them all with ease is a smile. Whether in personal relationships, social settings, or professional spaces, giving a captivating smile can make people feel at ease with you and help make interactions more comfortable.
Apart from making other people warm up to you and trust you, a wonderful smile can also impact your own physical and mental health in quite unexpected ways. Not surprisingly, we smile more often during our childhood than at any other point in later life.
Why Do We Smile Less Often as We Get Older?
Stress and the rigors of modern life sometimes leave us with little to smile about. And even when we have a genuine reason to break into a winning smile, many among us shy away from it. The reason? Poor oral health or other factors that contribute to misaligned/discolored teeth.
Fortunately, restorative and cosmetic dentistry services can offer highly effective solutions to this dilemma. If you are in the north Dallas area, the dental practice of David Wilhite, DDS offers comprehensive dental care, including advanced cosmetic dental services to help improve your smile and achieve better dental health.
Before we look at the plethora of dental procedures and services offered at our Plano, TX dental health office, let’s take a closer look at just how much of a difference a smile can make in our lives.
The Power of a Smile
The ability to smile naturally and frequently can have a transformative impact on a person’s life. It is not an exaggeration. Numerous studies on the topic have indicated that the benefits of a smile can include the following:
- Mental health benefits
- General health benefits
- Social benefits
- Economic benefits
Let’s explore each of these in further detail to gain a true understanding of how important smiling can be to modern human life.
Mental Health Benefits of a Smile
A Powerful Anti-depressant
The ancestors of human beings first started smiling over 30 million years ago, according to some experts. Over time, our body has built up hidden connections between our brains and this seemingly innocuous movement of muscles around the mouth.
Whenever we smile, the brain is conditioned to release chemicals called neuropeptides. These neurochemicals activate the cells in our brains (neurons) and help fight stress. We know of over 100 such chemicals, including oxytocin and vasopressin.
Also called the “love hormone,” oxytocin creates the positive vibes that we feel when we fall in love or have babies. Low levels of oxytocin have been linked to severe depression. Similarly, vasopressin has potent anti-stress and anti-pain effects on the brain.
Along with neuropeptides, a smile can also trigger the release of other brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Of these, the most popular ones we hear about are dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – the so-called “feel good” neurotransmitters.
Both dopamine and serotonin have a huge impact on our mood and emotions. They can help us feel intense pleasure and positivity. At high levels, they create feelings of bliss and euphoria. Frequent smiling can help keep these neurochemicals at healthy levels.
And the shocking thing is this – the smile doesn’t even have to be genuine for the brain to activate these chemicals! Even a forced smile can trigger the response automatically.
Apart from the chemical impact on the brain, the ability to show off an attractive smile also boosts our overall confidence and self-esteem levels. This point is fundamental because many of us forcefully suppress smiles out of peer pressure.
This usually happens in public or social settings, where our beauty standards are often artificially high. When we suffer from imperfections in the teeth or gums – things you see when we smile, basically – we are afraid to reveal these to others.
Discolored teeth, crooked or protruding teeth, and gum imperfections are common culprits. Fearing ridicule or embarrassment, many people try not to smile openly when in the company of others.
This can have serious negative consequences on our confidence and happiness levels. It is a vicious circle – the less we smile, the lower our levels of neurochemicals. This can make us feel more miserable, compounding the depression we already feel due to our insecurities.
In stark contrast, when we smile, we feel more confident. It can leave us feeling more positive and energetic. The self-esteem boost we get from a healthy, radiant smile is quite immense indeed.
Other General Health Benefits of Smiling
Endorphins like serotonin have important roles to play in other major organs in the body besides the brain. Along with reducing stress levels, these chemicals also improve our digestion, circulation, and overall blood pressure levels.
They stimulate the release of cortisol, a hormone vital for many key bodily functions. Cortisol regulates our blood sugar levels and stimulates the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs in the body. It also assists in the management of our sleep-wake cycles.
Perhaps most importantly, cortisol has immense implications for our immune system and the body’s ability to fight disease and inflammation. It affects nearly every major system in the body. Maintaining stable levels of cortisol is vital for overall health.
And people who smile often throughout their lives tend to have healthy levels of cortisol. Due to their generally positive and confident attitude and outlook, they also tend to live longer, healthier lives.
In an interesting study involving 1950s baseball cards, researchers discovered something astonishing. Players who had beaming smiles in their pictures were found to live almost 8 years longer on average than players who did not smile at all!
Social and Economic Benefits of Smiling
Smiling also has massive implications for our social lives and careers. Here are some ways in which showing your pearly whites can benefit you:
It can make you look younger
Strange as it may seem, this is actually quite true. It is a matter of perception more than actually reducing your age. When we are young, we tend to smile more often – children smile a whopping 400 times per day on average while most adults can barely manage 20.
When researchers showed college students a series of photographs of older people, the individuals with smiles were universally rated as younger than their true age. The ones with scowls and frowns on their faces were seen as older.
It can make you more attractive to your dates
A healthy smile is a big asset whether you are looking for a casual date or a life partner. It makes people perceive you as more attractive and approachable. Of course, many folks also find dark and brooding personalities attractive.
However, even those appearing “mysterious” need to smile once in a while – otherwise, it can get quite tiresome! Like the baseball card study, another one that looked at photos of college students found that smiling gives you a better chance at longer, happier marriages.
Gives you a winning personality in social and business circles
Just as in the romance game, smiles can also come in handy in other social situations. While excessive or fake smiles make you seem suspicious, a simple, genuine smile has a disarming effect on most people.
Smiling can help you get assistance in unfamiliar situations or when you are traveling overseas. Smiles help you bond quickly with other people and make new friendships. They can help you disarm potentially dangerous situations and prevent conflicts.
Very often, when you smile at someone, they return the courtesy. This is a natural human instinct of reciprocity. This is why people say that a smile is contagious.
Smiling can even improve your career prospects, be it in interviews or when dealing with clients. It can contribute to a positive work environment and make your colleagues or subordinates like you more. And in general, when you stay positive, your productivity also increases accordingly. Some studies even suggest that it can help you earn more money in life.
People with attractive smiles tend to earn at least 12% more income than those who are perceived to have less attractive teeth. Discolored or uneven teeth decrease your attractiveness by a whopping 20%.
In the long run, this can even scuttle your chances of success in the workplace. in a survey, over 74% of respondents believed that having a less attractive smile can impact your ability to gain promotion or succeed in business.
Anyone Can Have an Attractive Smile
The evidence is quite overwhelming. Poor oral health and dental health can have a negative impact on your chances of living a long and happy life. But all is not lost if you don’t have a winning smile already.
Advanced dental procedures in the field of restorative and cosmetic dentistry can make a huge difference. Through state-of-the-art treatments and procedures like dental implants, teeth whitening, and Invisalign, Plano dental health specialist David Wilhite, DDS MAGD can help you retain a beautiful smile, improve your oral health, and brighten up your whole life!
In this next segment, we will explore the various treatments and dental services that are used by millions of people around the globe to improve their smiles. The following are some of the dental treatments available at our Plano, TX dental office:
- Dental implants crowns
- Full mouth restorations
- Porcelain crowns and veneers
- Teeth whitening
Nothing ruins a smile quite like a gap created by missing teeth. Whether it is right in the front row or a bit to the side, it can seriously affect your appearance and confidence. Folks suffering from this common issue often keep their mouths closed as much as possible in social settings. They may even try to avoid speaking as much as possible, let alone smile.
Dental implants offer an ideal solution to missing teeth. Whether you lost it due to injury, accident, or tooth decay, implants can help sort things out. A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root of the tooth, hidden inside your gums.
Once it is surgically placed on your jaw, it provides a stable foundation on which a realistic replacement tooth can be added. Implants are a much better alternative to dentures, the traditional treatment option for missing teeth in the past.
The implant crowns are made from durable substances and look like your real teeth. Apart from improving your smile, a dental implant can also improve speech, and make it easier to chew food.
This is a popular orthodontic treatment that provides a less embarrassing alternative to braces. Invisalign is a proven restorative and cosmetic dentistry treatment method that is designed to straighten out misaligned or protruding teeth.
Instead of visible and fixed metal braces, this new dental technology uses clear plastic trays that cover the entire row of teeth. While staying discreetly out of sight, the Invisalign trays gently move your teeth back into a proper position.
These removable braces are made from entirely safe, non-toxic plastic. Both teenagers and adults can use Invisalign without any concerns. Please note that you should not use these over the counter – a visit to an experienced Plano, TX cosmetic dentist is essential to making sure they actually work.
Unlike traditional metal braces, Invisalign is far more comfortable and easier to maintain. You will also have to make fewer visits to the dental office with these clear braces.
Porcelain Veneers and Crowns
There are two popular options used by our expert cosmetic dentist in Plano, TX to give you a more attractive smile. While they serve the same basic dental needs and are made from the same substances, veneers and dental crowns are quite different in nature.
A veneer is a thin covering placed over the front portion of your tooth to give it a more pleasing and even appearance. The cosmetic dentist will not make any serious adjustments to the tooth before attaching the veneer.
On the other hand, dental crowns cover the entire visible portion of the tooth. Both treatments are used for teeth that have been cracked or damaged due to tooth decay or fractures.
With regular brushing and flossing, most people can maintain a healthy white shade on their teeth. With that said, due to diet or poor maintenance, yellow stains and discolorations can creep in over time.
Teeth whitening is a relatively simple and painless solution to this problem. The dental care solution uses whitening products – either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide – to remove stains and help your teeth appear pearly white.
You can choose from a wide range of teeth whitening solutions. While some can be applied at home, others may require a single visit to our Plano, TX dental office. Overuse of these substances can damage your teeth, so always use them after consulting a dental health professional.
Full Mouth Restorations
When your lack of a beautiful smile is not due to any single issue, it might be time to consider a full mouth restoration. This treatment plan is used in situations where the patient is suffering from multiple dental health issues like tooth decay, stains, poor alignment, and gum disease.
In a full-mouth restoration, the dentist will use a combination of cosmetic and general dentistry procedures. They can include implants, veneers, crowns, root canals, tooth extraction, whitening, Invisalign, and more.
This kind of dental work is often required for people who avoided going to a dental office for years. It is highly undesirable to ignore your dental health to an extent where a full-mouth restoration becomes necessary.
In the next segment, we will explore why poor oral health can have far more serious implications beyond just an ugly smile.
Importance of Healthy Teeth
Your mouth can offer a window into the general health of your entire body. Most people don’t realize this fact. Poor oral health often has direct and serious consequences for the rest of your body.
It impacts your access to nutrition
This one is fairly simple – you need strong teeth to chew a wider range of food items. A balanced diet made up of carbs, proteins, vitamins, and fats are essential for a healthy body. And that often involves eating harder fruits, nuts, and of course, meat for non-vegetarians.
If you are missing teeth in key areas, you may be unable to bite or chew certain food items. It is hard to maintain adequate nutrition based on a soft-foods diet. It requires extra effort that many people tend to avoid. This can lead to severe health issues.
It can affect key organ systems
The mouth is a critical gateway to the inside of your body. We make a lot of effort to ensure that we eat clean food that is free from microorganisms like bacteria. But if you ignore oral health, dangerous bacteria can multiply in your mouth.
These organisms can enter the rest of the body via multiple routes:
- Through the digestive system
- Through the bloodstream
- Through the airways and lungs
The same bacteria that cause tooth decay and other gum diseases may also cause inflammation in the heart when they reach the organ via the bloodstream. This can have life-threatening complications like clogged arteries and heart disease (endocarditis).
Pneumonia in the lungs is another potential complication from bacteria in the mouth. Chronic oral infections have also been linked to pregnancy complications in mothers, with the baby suffering from premature birth and low birth weight.
Constant infections in the mouth can also put a strain on your body’s immune system. It can lead to worsening conditions such as diabetes, and in some cases, even oral cancer.
It leads to avoidable pain and healthcare costs
The most disheartening thing about many oral health issues is the fact that they are all preventable to some degree. Poor diet, bad lifestyle choices like the use of tobacco and drugs, and inadequate cleaning and maintenance are all factors that can be removed entirely or mitigated to a great extent.
When you neglect the health of your teeth and gums, eventually, effects like gum disease, infections, decay, and plaque set in. They all gradually lead to one common outcome – loss of teeth.
Once that happens, you have no option but to consult a dentist because the pain or discomfort becomes unbearable. With modern restorative and cosmetic dentistry services, you can solve most dental health issues and even get your teeth back (artificial or natural).
Prevention is a far better option for your dental health and general health in every way. And that involves several things:
- A healthy and balanced diet with adequate calcium and minerals.
- Regular cleaning and flossing of your teeth, minimum twice per day.
- Regular visits to your family dentist for checkups and cleaning.
The Importance of Family Dentistry
A family dentist is a trusted expert offering preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental services for your entire family, including kids. When you visit your family dentist at least twice a year for a dental checkup, you can get the following vital benefits:
Early Detection of Cavities and Gum Disease
Even with constant flossing and brushing, our teeth can develop cavities. Gum disease can also creep up on us with minimal warning or symptoms, eventually escalating into periodontal disease, which may result in loss of teeth. Your regular dentist can quickly identify these conditions when they are developing and nip them in the bud.
Improving Oral Hygiene
An experienced dentist can quickly tell if you are being disciplined and regular in your daily cleaning and maintenance. This is particularly important with kids – a dentist can help instill the habit of good oral hygiene at an early age, reducing the need for dental office visits in the future.
Timely Diagnosis of Oral Cancer
Unlike many other forms of cancer, oral cancer is not easily spotted. Dentists are usually the first ones to discover it. With regular visits, you can drastically improve your chances of early detection and survival, especially if you smoke or drink heavily.
If you are a resident of Plano, TX or the Dallas area, you can rely on David Wilhite, DDS for all your general dentistry, family dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry needs. Our dental offices are fully equipped and our team is dedicated to restoring healthy smiles for people in all age groups.
Choose an Award-Winning Dentist to Transform Your Smile and Restore Oral Health
As a doctor of dental surgery, David Wilhite, DDS is a highly respected dentist devoted to the cause of improving the oral health of Texans and restoring their natural smiles through cutting-edge dental procedures and technology. Dr. Wilhite has been conferred with the Mastership Award (MAGD), which is the highest honor given by the Academy of General Dentistry to dental professionals who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to exceptional dental care.
He has also been named “Dentist of the Year” three times by the Texas AGD. Dr. Wilhite pursues extensive continuing education year after year (far beyond the mandatory requirements) in order to provide the latest and most effective dental services and solutions to his patients. To request an appointment with David Wilhite DDS, call us at (972) 964-3774 today! We’ll have you smiling again in no time!