Healthy Smiles By Rita Tempel, DDS – This article was published in the Gettysburg Times, September 15, 2016
Let’s think for a moment about what a smile is: an expression of happiness. Being happy works hand-in-hand with health; so that when you’re healthy, you’re happy, and vice versa. Your smile is actually a glimpse of your overall health and psyche. That feeling of well-being and confidence is reflected in your smile!
Studies on smiles have revealed amazing, fascinating research behind the power of our smiles. For example, when you smile, studies show that your body produces chemicals called endorphins. This endorphin rush triggers positive feelings and reduces stress and pain. Try smiling right now to experience it!
Smiling is also “contagious.” Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling at another person almost always causes him/her to smile back. What a beautiful, and healthful, gift.
A study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) actually finds that our smiles can be considered our greatest assets. About 45 percent of survey participants say our smiles are our most attractive features, regardless of age. Think about that… Our smiles impact our social and professional lives, can create a wonderful first impression, and leave a positive lasting impression.
As part of each patient’s treatment plan, evaluating his/her smile is important. Simply asking each patient to smile usually produces a grin, but for some patients this request presents a number of challenges. If people know their teeth aren’t healthy, or if they are ashamed of their teeth, they fight the urge to smile, and literally train themselves not to smile.
As a dentist, this makes me extremely sad, but I am always determined to find a way to make them smile—by being funny, telling jokes, and not giving up until I can capture a smile on camera. Every smile is unique, just as we are all unique people. When I show patients the photos of their smiles, we talk about what we see—gums and/or teeth. Then we talk about creating a plan—restoring their oral health, and therefore, their smiles.
And what an amazing, rewarding, life-changing process this can be. I have often shared patients’ joy, through tears of happiness, as their smiles are restored to good health. This process often causes a ripple effect of positive events in their lives. Sometimes patients have not dated for a long time, but begin dating again; I’ve also seen patients increase their job opportunities. But most of all, I’ve witnessed transformations in patients’ happiness. Quite often, when we review before and after photos of their smiles, they say, “I can’t believe I lived that way for so long.”
If you, or someone you know, rarely smiles, then I encourage you to make a dental appointment today, for yourself or for him/her. Address your oral health so that you can boost your overall health. Being able to smile with confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others.
Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles/Dr. Rita Tempel & Associates, a family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is a Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry as well as a Preferred Provider for Invisalign. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com or contact Dr. Tempel at 717-339-0033.