Smiling is one of the most basic, biologically uniform, expressions of all humans.
Our ability to smile is innate, hardwired into our genetic code. 4D ultrasound shows we smile before we’re born, we smile during sleep and both sighted and blind individuals smile by contracting the same group of facial muscles, proving that smiling is not a learned process.
Across the globe, we are able to communicate non-verbally by using a smile to express comfort, joy, interest and satisfaction.
Ever wondered why it’s quite a challenge to frown when looking at someone who smiles?
Studies demonstrate that smiling is evolutionarily contagious and another person’s smile suppresses the control we have over our own facial muscles, ultimately compelling us to smile back.
Charles Darwin’s initial facial feedback response theory, reinforced by substantial contemporary research, concludes that the simple act of smiling actually stimulates the brain’s pleasure centre in ways that even chocolate can’t match.
Smiling also makes us look good in the eyes of others – we appear more likeable, courteous and competent.
Given the importance and power of a smile, it’s not surprising that a beautiful smile gets plenty attention in today’s world.
As we get older, our smiles change.
We slowly lose facial fat, collagen and elastin which are vital for the plumpness of our cheeks and lips; and we lose bone and muscle mass which are necessary for the structure and support of our cheekbones, jaw lines and teeth.
Other factors also influence this change: smoking, food and beverage stains, dehydration, excessive sun exposure and post-menopausal hormonal changes all contribute negatively/in a negative manner/fashion.
As a result, our cheeks droop, our lips invert and crack, our teeth get discoloured and an array of wrinkles start to appear around the area of the lower mid and face.
So, can we restore an ageing smile and retain our expressive superpower?
The answer is: absolutely!
Advances in anti-ageing and aesthetic medicine allow for minimally invasive corrections that will reinforce a smile, bringing it back to its original glory. The arsenal of treatments at our disposal include hyaluronic acid fillers which are used to remodel lost volume in cheeks and lips, mesotherapy which restructures and hydrates the overlaying skin and resurfacing lasers that undo the damage from years of external UV exposure.
So, in light of World Smile Day 2020, and despite the fact that it has been a year which forced us to cover up a lot of our smiles, do an act of kindness. Smile.
Through all the face coverings and at a social distance. Just smile.
It will still make you look and feel great, it will still reduce your stress levels and it will still make you feel like you’ve just had a whole stack of deliciously rich chocolate.
Dr Gorana Petocic is a medico-cosmetics expert and laser specialist with People&Skin.
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