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A time to smile – Helen Minnery

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  Posted by: The Probe      10th May 2018

It has been suggested that the average person smiles 20 times a day, while happy people might increase this to 50 times a day. Unfortunately, neither number even comes close to how many times a child is believed to smile in a day – 400!1

This is sad because smiling is believed to afford several benefits:

1. It makes you feel happier. Smiling is thought to trigger a chemical reaction in the brain whereby hormones like dopamine and serotonin are released.

2. It could help to reduce stress. Smiling has been associated with lower heart rates during recovery from a stressful situation.2

3. It makes you more likeable. A study looking at the affect of a smile from witnesses in the courtroom found that smiling contributes to perceived likeability of a person.3

4. It makes you more attractive. Research into expressions that can contribute to perceived attractiveness found that participants found smiling faces more attractive than other expressions.4

5. It could boost your immune system. Studies from the 1980s and ‘90s found direct links between the nervous system and immune-related organs, suggesting a link between happiness/stress and immune function.5

6. It could increase your pain threshold. One particular study found that a good smile and belly laugh increased the pain thresholds of participants significantly when compared to the control group.6

Smiles across the nation

As you will know, National Smile Month is celebrated throughout the UK between 14 May and 14 June and this year is its 40th anniversary. It presents the ideal opportunity for dental teams to really get involved and help those in their communities understand the importance of dental health. Run by the Oral Health Foundation, the campaign is all about educating and motivating patients to enhance their oral health, communicating positive messages and encouraging more people to smile across the country.

As an avid supporter of National Smile Month, the BSDHT would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to get involved with the campaign this year. There are so many things you can do. To keep things simple, you can purchase a set of ‘Smileys’ for your team, colleagues and patients to take photos with and spread the word in your local area or on social media. Why not also participate in the #mysmileyselfie competition for your chance to win tickets to your local comedy club?

Or, if you know someone who has done something selfless but always has a smile on their face – maybe a colleague, a family member or even a patient – nominate them by sending a picture of the nominee alongside a brief description of why they deserve recognition. Nominations should be sent to pr@dentalhealth.org and a winner will be selected every week during the campaign.

For the more adventurous out there, you might be interested in embarking on the new ‘Big Dental Placemap Challenge’. For this you’ll need to take a photo of yourself by a sign or in a place that has a dental-related name (some examples include “Laughton”, “Gumley” and “Brush Drive”).

Whatever you prefer to do and however you like to get involved, the most important thing is that you do and have fun!

First Smiles

The BSDHT’s own First Smiles campaign is next month as well – why not join us on Friday 15 June to help raise awareness of the need for good oral health among children in your local area. This campaign encourages you to visit your local schools and nurseries to educate the children and those who care for them so they may instil good habits from an early age. Sponsored by Oral-B and Brushlink, there is also the opportunity to hand out toothbrushes for different age ranges and to leave a Brushlink device with the school you visit (available on a first-come, first-served basis). This is also a fantastic way to start building relationships within your community for future oral health promotion and activities.

It seems this month really is all about the smiles, so do what you can to get more of your patients smiling every day!

References available on request.


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