What's In A Smile? Everything, Apparently!

Written By John Richards on Monday, August 20, 2012 | 11:07 AM

What's In A Smile? Everything, Apparently!
Photo credit: WeHeartI
We’ve all heard the importance of making a great first impression. And we’re also familiar with the old adage “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.” 

But recently, while I was interviewing several candidates for an upcoming project, I caught myself paying less attention to their words and more attention to their expressions, gestures, and yes, looks. At one point, I found myself fixated on the first candidate’s…errr...no-so-white teeth. The following candidate, however, could have come straight from a Colgate commercial.

I was completely mesmerized by her perfectly shaped, refrigerator-white, 100-kilowatt smile. The interviewee who ended up landing the gig? Surprise, surprise…the one with the amazing smile.

So, is a dazzling smile the difference between semi-success and major success? Will a better (and perpetual) smile make us appear more attractive to others? Appear younger? And, ultimately, bring us more happiness? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

What’s In A Smile, Really?
Studies show that a person’s smile is a powerful tool and can affect one’s success, how they’re perceived by others, their health, and even their overall happiness. In fact, one study done by the journal of Psychology and Aging suggested smiling makes you look younger to others. (Forget Botox, I’m going to start grinning a whole lot more.)

Another study showed that an overwhelming majority -- 85 percent -- consider a person’s smile to be very important when meeting someone for the first time. So, does this mean we need to walk around with a smile 24/7? What if some of us aren’t chronic smilers?

My advice? Shoot for smiling a smidge more than normal, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to grinner’s bliss. (Trust me on this. I’ve recently made it a point to smile more often, and not only have I noticed I’m doing it a lot more without trying, but it’s also completely contagious.)

Julia Roberts and Her Contagious Smile (Andrew Evans/PR Photos)

Ready To Make Your Smile A Dazzling One? Try These “Bright” Tips:
DIY enthusiast: Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits (such as Rembrandt and Crest) can lighten teeth up to two shades and they’re super easy and cost effective. (Tip: skip the traditional strips and go with whitening trays, or try advanced strips that mold to the shape of your teeth. They won't slip and slide around.).

Going pro: If you feel your teeth are beyond an at-home kit, you might want to consider going to a professional. Teeth whitening laser treatments start at $500 and custom-made whitening trays start at $300. Both options are “professional-grade” strength. Results can be seen within an hour and will last up to twelve months (depending on your consumption of coffee, red wine, and other stain-causing foods). Ask your dentist which option is best for you.

Fake it: For an instant teeth whitener that’s free, simply reach in your makeup drawer and apply a bold lipstick color (such as a punchy red or a bright pink shade). A striking lip color makes teeth appear whiter, and also provides an instant confidence booster.

Lancome Rouge In Love in Rouge Valentine, $25

Straighten ‘em out: If you feel your teeth need to be straighter, there are a number of teeth-straightening options. And, no, you don’t have to look like a 15-year old teenager. Clear aligners (such as Invisalign) are a perfect choice for adults...and hardly noticeable! Simply wear the custom-fitted trays all day, and remove them before eating.

With these tips, you’ll be flashing that gorgeous smile of yours non-stop! Need one more reason to smile? Try this interesting tidbit: it takes seventeen muscles to flash a smile and forty-three to frown. Now, if only someone would come out with a study on how smiling causes major weight loss, I swear I would walk around with a perma-grin...

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