A smile is a facial expression formed primarily by flexing the muscles at the sides of the mouth.

VERB – To form one’s features into a pleased, kind, or amused expression, typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed.

NOUN – An expression on the face in which the ends of the mouth curve up slightly, often with the lips moving apart so that the teeth can be seen; expressing happiness, pleasure, amusement, or a friendly  disposition.


So, WHY do we smile? Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.

Smiling, quite simply, can change our brain. So, what happens to our brain when we smile? Well, when we see something that makes us happy or pleases us, neuronal signals travel from the cortex of our brain to the brainstem (the oldest part of our brains). From there, the cranial muscle carries the signal further towards the smiling muscles in your face. Then, once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy. Hence, smiling being more rewarding than chocolate.

Smiling, like most facial expressions, communicates to those around us what we are feeling. It also reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That’s why we often feel happier around children – they smile more. On average, they do so 400 times a day. Whilst happy people still smile 40-50 times a day, the average of us only smiles 20 times a day.

We humans though, are pretty adept at distinguishing between fake and real smiles. Fake smiles usually only involve the lips and lower part of the face (controlled specifically by the motor cortex). When in certain social situations, we sometimes feel compelled to appear as if we are enjoying ourselves, such as when having to converse with someone we don’t like or enduring events we’re not comfortable attending. Beware though, as mentioned earlier, we can usually detect insincerity, especially within a smile. A REAL smile will always involve the eyes, which will crinkle at the corners, as well as the mouth curving upwards. This type of smile was first identified by Guillaume Duchenne. He realized that a real smile is initiated by the emotional center of our brain and thus involved both the motor cortex and the limbic (emotional) centers of our brain.

Smiling however, is definitely more than just a contraction of muscles in your face. As Mother Teresa said;

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” 

So, give a stranger one of your smile today, it may the only bit of sunshine they see today.



Do I need braces?  How do I know?  Why do I need braces?

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There are many, many reasons that people may need to have braces. Sometimes they are needed because a persons teeth are extremely crooked and cause them to not be able to chew properly. Other times it may be for cosmetic reasons and just occasionally, someone might just want to wear braces for a while.

In all cases, the prospective patient will need to visit a dentist who will determine if braces are actually needed. In some instances your family dentist will be able to help, in others you may be referred to a specialist called an Orthodontist.

Typical reasons for the need to have braces include;

Teeth straightening – Sometimes teeth can emerge crookedly or they don’t line up correctly. When this happens, it can affect the person’s ability to bite and chew food properly. Also, if your teeth don’t line up properly, you may be subject to headache and/or backache.

Correcting Bite – Many people have what is called an ‘over bite’ and many others have an ‘under bite’. An ‘over bite’ is a condition that makes the upper jaw jut out too far forward and an ‘under bite’ is where the lower jaw is the one that juts out too far. Both instances can result in a lot of tension that can give muscle ache or pain and, in some severe instances the teeth can bite into the tissues around your jaw.

Cosmetic – Some people may not medically require braces to ‘fix’ their teeth, but they may want to have a prettier smile.

Chewing – You may have problems with chewing your food properly. This would lead to possible stomach problems due to being unable to digest food that is not chewed properly.

Age – As we all get older, along with the rest of our body, our mouths and jaws will change. Sometimes significantly, requiring medical intervention.

In all instance where your dentist advises you to have braces, please take this seriously!! They do not do so lightly as problems with your teeth and jaw can have an adverse affect elsewhere in your body.

Next time we talk about braces we’ll look at ‘when’ they can be used, what to expect and how to look after them.

Until next time, have a wonderful day.


Smile and make the world a brighter place!

Smile and Be Happy!!

The little things in life make it bright:

a wink from a friend, a flower on the sidewalk,

a cup of tea in the morning, a square of fine chocolate,

a giggle at nothing, a laugh at yourself,

a cinnamon scent to wake up to, a little extra quiet in the day,

a smooth and soft bar of soap, a good yawn,

a favorite pair of shoes, just being yourself.

~it shouldn’t take much to spark a smile

Go on!!!! SMILE and make yours (and someone else’s) day a little brighter