How much is a smile worth?

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“Service with a smile”, “Smile … say cheese” – you’ve heard these sayings many times but where do they come from? Why are they so ingrained in our culture that we consider them normal communication but rarely think about what they actually mean.

If you want to understand the importance of your smile, try communicating with a newborn or an infant, or someone who does not speak your language. People instantly recognize a smile. The reason for that is all human babies are hardwired to smile to facilitate bonding with a caretaker. Adult humans also smile as a way to show appreciation, affection or just to initiate contact in social settings. My wife and I recently traveled to Arizona to visit my parents. On the way there and back, our 1 year old daughter made more friends in a day then most adults make in a year. We had adults taking pictures of her and complimenting us on how happy a child she was. And all she did was stare at strangers and, when they looked at her, she flashed them a smile that was hard to avoid. It was just that simple and you could feel the change in the mood of the adult upon whom our daughter fixed her smiling gaze on.

Research has demonstrated that people who smile more are more employable and generally make more money. In fact, in the service industry, people who smiled more got higher tips and had happier customers. People often find smiling individuals more attractive as co-workers and social partners. People actually attribute positive traits to individuals based simply on the fact that the person is smiling. Research has also shown that faking a smile can actually improve the mood and outlook of people. Recently, scientists determined the value of a smile was a third of a penny. That 1/3 of a cent! And yet the positive affects of smiling can be priceless or, at the least, extremely rewarding in a financial and social sense.

So, why don’t people smile more? The number one reason seems to be because they don’t like their smile or they are insecure about how others may judge their smile. A lot of people try to impress others with a fancy residence, cars, clothes, accessories yet we ignore what all the research shows to be the more important factor in building a relationship … a nice smile. So, how can dentistry help? Well, the foundation of nice smile are healthy teeth and gums. If you truly enjoy talking, eating healthy, kissing, it’s worth it to plan out how you can do those things for your lifetime. This requires planning and maintenance and an investment in your smile. Not only will this mean you can eat healthier, you will also be able to portray a more attractive, positive and appealing self image to others! There is no better investment that in yourself!