It’s been said that 70-93% of communication is conveyed through nonverbal cues. Statistics like this tell us it’s not what we say that important, but how we say it. Included on this list of determinants for effective communication include voice tone, inflection, hand movements, posture, and of course, facial features like your smile.
With this information in tow, it’s no wonder that our hyper-social species places so much emphasis on features like our smiles. The way we smile is a huge representation of who we are as individuals, and can impact certain outcomes we face throughout our life journeys. In this article, we look at ways to make you more confident in your smile so that you can get the most out of life.
But first, why is a smile so important?
In our busy, connected, and social world, how we carry ourselves can be directly tied to the kinds of opportunities and outcomes we experience. Christian D. Larson, an American thought leader, and teacher is famously quoted as saying, “A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is at home.”
Larson’s quote reiterates something most of us already know: that genuineness and warmth are attractive qualities in people. In fact, authenticity, a declining attribute in our modern and superficial society, has increasingly strong links to success.
Improving and developing a more confident smile has been linked to all kinds of personal and developmental improvements. Some reasons why include:
- Smiling prolongs your lifespan: A study from Wayne State University found that in photographs where subjects had full smiles that contracted more face muscles, those subjects were more likely to still be alive, or to have died later.
- Smiling positively impacts mood: Smiling has been found to elevate mood, which can help those who suffer from depression. This is because smiling can “trick” the mind into a good mood.
- Smiling is attractive: Humans are attracted to positivity. While scowls and frowns push people away, a smile draws others in. Evolutionarily-based research seems to suggest that smiling is linked to positive personality traits.
- Smiling is good for your health: Some studies have found that smiling can lower your heart rate when faced with stress. Also, laughter seems to lower blood pressure after the initial increase in breathing and heart rate.
Evidently, the benefits of smiling are great and varied. Read on for ways to improve and add confidence to your smile.
1. Get dental implants
When it comes to your smile, teeth are a huge part of the picture (over 70%by some measures). For this reason, if you are missing teeth, this can hinder your ability to smile with confidence. If this is the case, then dental implants can help fill this gap.
Dental implants consist of a white, porcelain tooth on top, and a titanium screw on the bottom. This is screwed and inserted into gaps in the gum where teeth used to be. Dental implants both look and feel just like regular teeth and in many cases are intended to be permanent.
As your gums are developed to hold teeth, gaps can impact your overall gum and jaw health. The jaw accepts dental implants just like regular teeth, meaning that they promote the return to normal function, ultimately repairing damage sustained while teeth were missing. Overall, this can fast-track your way back to a stronger, more confident smile.
2. Maintain good oral hygiene
Over time, teeth begin to yellow and discolor, especially around the gums. This is due to a build-up of calculus (commonly called tartar). Calculus is prevalent in most people, even those who brush regularly. It’s plaque that gives your teeth that furry feeling, but calculus that absorbs colors from food, and can turn black when left untreated.
Other problems that can arise from improper oral hygiene include periodontal (gum) disease, something that affects 80% of the general population and has links with cardiovascular disease. All of these oral illnesses impact us both from a health and a cosmetic standpoint.
If you suffer from these, this can put the brakes on your confidence, and discourage you from smiling. To avoid this, brushing regularly, chewing gum between meals, and flossing will help, as will regular visits to your dentist.
Dentures are removable false teeth that emulate the gums and teeth and are specially designed and shaped to sit seamlessly in your mouth. They can either be full—meaning that they replace an entire row of teeth—or partial—meaning that they fill gaps left by missing teeth.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, then dentures may be the best option to help you regain confidence in your smile. Technology has come a long way, and dentures are specially fitted to your mouth shape, so they are barely recognizable as anything artificial.
4. Avoid sugar and bad foods
From a health perspective, doctors would advise you to consume indulgent foods with high sugar contents in moderation. This is one point where doctors and dentists have formed a strong alliance, as sugary foods are awful for both oral and personal health.
Sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay, with children who snack on chips and sugary foods being four times more likely to experience the condition. Poor diet has a devastating effect on the teeth, causing decay, which looks like a chalky white, brown, or even black surface that can lead to holes and cavities.
Displays of poor tooth health are found to inhibit people’s ability to smile confidently, so changes should be made to reverse these impacts on your teeth and self-esteem. To minimize these issues, try to cut out sugar from your diet where possible. This includes both sweets and natural sugar from fruit juice.
5. Give yourself reasons to smile
Smiling with confidence doesn’t solely come from cosmetic improvements, it is also a direct result of your own actions. Some people feel they suffer from a case of a “serious face,” and that people are always asking them why they’re in a bad mood.
While it might be for the best that you ignore the opinion of anyone giving you unsolicited feedback on your appearance, there are still things you can do about it. For example, consider doing nice things for yourself that will make you smile. Some ideas include:
- Decorating your home as you like it
- Adding fresh flowers to your room or public spaces
- Contacting a close friend you haven’t spoken with in a while
- Buying yourself a nice item of clothing
- Organizing a social occasion
- Doing something kind for a stranger.
Remember not to downplay your own self-worth, and to take on healthy behaviors that will support the thesis that you are special, important, and an asset to society. Changing your mindset in this way will promote positivity in your own life while helping others as well, leading to a more natural and confident smile.
6. Practice smiling
Like everything, smiling is a skill, and like every skill, practice makes perfect. Some of us may look to the bright lights and bigger smiles of Hollywood for inspiration. Smiles from Julia Roberts or Idris Elba may look stunning, but remember that they weren’t born with their smile. Uncountable hours of pampering, styling, and drama classes are what shaped their smiles into what they are today.
The lesson here is not to aspire to unrealistic expectations, but to invest work into what you want to achieve. Standing in front of a mirror and practicing is a good way to find your varying smiles, and match them to your outfit, or even mood for the day.
While practicing, make sure you are taking selfies. This will help you find your best angles and improve your selfie-taking skills (your way to celebrate your new found smiling abilities). Additionally, when you practice smiling, this will trigger the part of your brain that is activated by natural smiling, making you happier and more confident in the process.
7. Whiten your teeth
As discussed, teeth decolorization can be a huge hindrance to the confidence of your smile. In many cases, decolorization and yellowing of your teeth are unavoidable. It results from dentin, the inner-layer of the tooth, becoming thicker and more yellow over time. When this happens, enamel, the outer-layer, becomes thinner, meaning that the discolored dentin becomes more visible.
Thankfully, teeth whitening has become a standardized procedure that is available to all. You can have the procedure done professionally, or alternatively, some safe DIY options include:
- Brushing your teeth with baking soda
- Eating crunchy and raw fruits which rub plaque away
- Moderating your intake of colorizing foods like soda, coffee, and tea
- Stopping or reducing smoking
- Brushing with activated charcoal.
If self-consciousness about the color of your teeth is ruining the confidence of your smile, then a professional procedure, or a longer-term plan to whiten your teeth, can help. Returning your smile to the dazzling white of yesteryear will inject a huge boost of confidence into your smile.
Your smile is fundamental to who you are as a person, and how you are perceived in wider society. The benefits of a strong smile can’t be understated, so if you would like to boost your confidence when smiling, there are a multitude of ways to do this. These include improvements in oral health, implants and dentures, practice, self-care, and teeth whitening methods. Don’t discount your personal worth, and start yourself off on the road to self-improvement.