This month, the entire team at Mountain Shadows Dental is raising awareness for mental health. Over the last two years, the entire world has suffered through a pandemic, but there is another pandemic sweeping the globe – mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, 20% of adults suffer from mental illness worldwide, and that number is closer to 40% in the United States, with more than half of those people reporting that they also suffer from depression.
The statistics are startling, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The more awareness we give to mental health and the more we make treatments available, the better things can get. One great way to improve your mental health is simply by smiling.
A Smile is Better Than Chocolate
It sounds cliche to say that just smiling can change the world, but it is true. A study conducted concluded that smiling can actually be just as stimulating as receiving 16,000 pounds sterling in cash (roughly $20,000). The best part is that smiling starts a cycle that turns into a feedback loop. Once you smile, it sends a signal to your brain that you are experiencing joy. When your brain feels this, it sends signals to your brainstem that reinforce the muscles of your smile – and the loop continues.
Science has confirmed that the reward mechanism triggered by your brain during a smile is actually better and lasts longer than when that same person consumes chocolate. Smiling must be pretty darn good! In addition, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which decrease stress levels, relax the body, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and serve as an antidepressant/mood lifter.
A Smile is Good for Everyone
Mother Teresa once said, “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” A smile isn’t just good for us, it is good for the people around us. In one study, researchers found that smiling is more contagious than the flu and that in more than 90% of cases, when you smile at a person, they will smile back.
Channel Your Inner Child
Children still suffer from mental illness but at much lower rates, and one possibility is because of how much they smile! Children smile an average of 400 times every day, while the average happy adult only smiles 40-50 times.
Some adults have said that the reason they don’t smile as often as they used to isn’t always because they are truly unhappy, but because they feel self-conscious about the way their smile looks. If you are feeling this way, our team at Mountain Shadows Dental can help! Don’t stop yourself from smiling with all these amazing benefits for your mental health – a beautiful smile can be obtained no matter what age you are. Simply schedule an appointment with us to get started.
*If you or someone you love are suffering from serious mental health issues, please contact the national suicide prevention hotline: 800-273-8255