“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the song goes. In general I agree with that song. There is something about Christmas that is truly magical – for me it is about “peace on earth,” and other loving feelings. Friends and family simply being together is what makes it so special for me.
Then there’s the other side of Christmas, what many refer to as the “commercialization” of Christmas. For me that translates into “what do I get for_____”, etc. That is the part I don’t particularly care for. Even when I know how much joy I’ve brought to someone I love with a special gift that they really appreciated.
So what if we all tried something new this year for Christmas giving: Give people you care about your SMILE! A true gift from the heart that can mean so much. (You can tell the difference, when it’s really from the heart, can’t you?) You don’t need to go to the mall and break the bank either, so it’s easy. The great thing about your smile is that it’s instantly available over and over again, and believe it or not, the more you use it, the more you’ll want to use it. It is renewable and can make you feel better too!
There’s actually been a fair amount of research done on smiling. Smiling is one of the few things I’ve seen researched that actually shows no negative side effects. The research has shown the following:
- When someone smiles at you it’s actually hard to not smile back – smiles are contagious!
- When you smile, even if you don’t really mean it, it feels good to you, and it reduces your stress levels. Then, at least in my experience, the next time you smile it’s even more genuine and feels even better for you and the recipient.
- Smiling makes your immune system stronger, and that in turn helps you prevent illness.
- Smiling makes you appear more attractive and approachable. When you smile at others, you seem more welcoming, so people want to be with you.
- Smiling also makes you seem more trustworthy compared to people who aren’t smiling.
With a payoff like that, why not smile all the time? The response that I often get is, “I don’t like my smile”. As a dentist, I’m happy to tell people we can almost always help. Sometimes the treatment is really simple yet achieves amazing results, and sometimes it’s really complicated and may achieve a noticeable, but not ideal improvement. Dentistry now has so many tools to work with that improving smiles is usually highly predictable, and often far easier than many people expect. The options are many depending on how your smile might benefit: whitening, reshaping teeth, use of tooth-colored bonding, veneers to change tooth color and shape, implants to replace missing teeth, and orthodontics,
The best news of all – everyone likes to see a smile! As a dentist I get to see all sorts of “problems” that affect people’s smiles. Yet I can’t remember seeing anyone smile at me that I didn’t appreciate or, in special cases, get the message of joy coming from their heart. So if you don’t like your smile, make a resolution to improve it in the coming year. But please, in this time of celebration, don’t let that stop you from smiling. The grinch might try to steal Christmas, but don’t let anyone steal your smile!