Why smiling feels so good

No one doubts that happiness makes us smile, but can a smile bring us happiness? The truth is that even when it is a fake smile, moving the muscles around our mouth in a certain way makes us feel good.

That is why, in this new blog entry of the Vélez y Lozano dental clinic, quality dentists in Murcia, we want to delve into the causes behind the feeling of pleasure that accompanies every smile.

To understand how the effect of smiling works in our organism, we are going to expose a classic experiment carried out with 169 subjects and published in the specialised journal 'Psychological Science'. The researchers used chopsticks to manipulate the participants' facial muscles, achieving different expressions: neutral, a standard smile or a Duchenne smile (known as the 'genuine' smile).

In addition to the placement of the chopsticks, the methodology of the experiment was completed with a group of participants who were asked to smile explicitly, without holding any gadgets between their teeth.

Subjects were subjected to a series of stress-inducing multitasking activities, which they struggled to perform while continuing to hold the chopsticks in their mouths. During the experiment, the subjects' heart rate and stress levels were monitored and controlled at all times.

The results of the study showed that participants who were encouraged to smile while engaged in stressful activities had a lower heart rate than subjects who maintained neutral expressions. Most surprisingly, the participants assigned the Duchenne smile were the most relaxed of all, registering the most positive effects. Those with smiles forced by the chopsticks also reported more positive feelings than those who did not smile at all.

The conclusion of this classic study - conducted under the name 'Smiling and holding on: the positive influence of manipulated facial expression as a response to stress' - highlights that, when a situation generates a state of stress and nervousness, even a forced smile can make us feel more relaxed and happy.

Psychologists and sociologists point out something that dentists are very clear about: an attractive, healthy and healthy smile brings us wellbeing in our daily lives, gives us confidence, greater self-esteem and we now also know that it reduces stress.