Research has shown that people who smile a lot are usually happier, have more stable marriages, better cognitive skills and better interpersonal skills, but science has also uncovered another benefit of a happy face: people who have big smiles live longer.
In the study called “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity“ published in the Journal of Physiological Science, Michael Kruger and Ernest Abel examined the correlation between the intensity of an individual’s smile and their longevity by studying 230 photographs of U.S. major league baseball players from 1952.personalities, more stable marriages, better cognitive skills and better interpersonal skills, but science has also uncovered another benefit of a happy face: people who have big smiles live longer.
The players were rated as “no smile” if they were just looking deadpan at the camera; as “partial smile” if only the muscles around the mouth were involved in their grin; or as “full smile” if the mouth and eyes were smiling and the cheeks were both raised, the study in Psychological Science said.
The players’ pictures were taken from the 1952 Baseball Register, a listing of professionals that is packed with statistics such as year of birth, body mass index, marital status and career length, which reflects physical fitness. The wealth of statistics allowed the researchers to also measure other factors that could affect lifespan.
Of the players who had died as of June 1 of 2009, those in the no-smile category lived for an average of 72.9 years, those with partial smiles — just the mouth involved — died at age 75, while the full-smile players lived to the ripe old age of 79.9 on average, the study showed. Yes, their longevity directly correlated with their happiness as measured by their degree of smile.
“To the extent that smile intensity reflects an underlying emotional disposition, the results of this study are congruent with those of other studies demonstrating that emotions have a positive relationship with mental health, physical health and longevity,” the study says.
And this isn’t the only study to say so. Research done by LeeAnne Harker and Dacher Keltner in 2001 analyzed college yearbook photographs of women and their smiles — with similar results.
If smiling broadly, genuinely and more frequently may lead to a longer life, what does that mean for you? It’s just one more reason to take your oral health seriously. People are much less prone to smile broadly if they feel self-conscious about their teeth. Hiding your smile or trying to laugh with your mouth closed puts a damper on your enjoyment of life in general, and as these studies show, this can have detrimental effects in the long term.
The Burnaby Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group are eager to help you achieve the best smile that you can have, whether with whitening, cosmetic procedures, orthodontics, or simply with preventive measures by means of regular check-ups. You might be surprised at the effects on your quality of life over all from having a smile that you’re proud to show, not to mention a longer life as well.