Did you celebrate World Smile Day last week? If you suffer from a TMJ disorder, chances are you passed on participating in the day’s events. An unfortunate side effect for some TMD patients is difficulty or pain when smiling. This can cause those with TMJ disorders to avoid smiling altogether, which can take an emotional toll over time.
Smiling is a part of how we express joy and connect with one another. One of the most important things we do at MedCenter TMJ is give people their smiles back so they can experience all the positive effects of this special facial expression.
The Positive Effects of Smiling
Ever since artist Harvey Ball created the smiley face in 1963 it has been a symbol of positivity and good will. It may be simple, but smiling is a universal expression no matter what language you speak, and Ball’s cheerful yellow design captured that perfectly. Ball also created World Smile Day to serve as a time to celebrate the act of smiling and doing kind acts that get others to smile too.
A lot of research has been done on the effects of smiling. It has always been a natural expression for the same emotions regardless of the culture we grow up in or the era in which we live. The simple act of smiling can:
- Make you appear more attractive, younger and approachable.
- Make everyone happier. The saying “when you smile the world smiles back” is true. Smiling not only lifts your own mood, but research has shown it lifts the mood of others around you as well.
- Help you live longer. A study from professors at Wayne State University showed that baseball players who smiled more lived longer on average.
- Trigger neural messages in the brain, which helps your health.
- Release stress relieving neuropeptides.
- Release feel-good serotonin, dopamine and endorphins that lower blood pressure and heart rate.
- Reduce cortisol, a stress hormone.
The biggest finding may be that even faking a smile has benefits. Smiling can actually lead to more positive emotions and a happier state in and of itself. The benefits above highlight why TMD treatment is so important for the health and happiness of patients.
How TMD Patients Can Keep on Smiling
Typically, TMD isn’t something to smile about. But the good news is modern-day technology and treatments are making it possible for patients to better manage pain and get back to smiling.
TMJ pain occurs when a patient smiles because the jaw muscles around the temporomandibular joint get flexed. These muscles are under physical stress from TMD, so engaging them by smiling can lead to pain. In total it takes 26 muscles to smile, meaning that there is quite a bit of activity and physical changes occurring that can cause TMJ pain to flare up.
At MedCenter TMJ we use a variety of solutions to address TMJ pain. Identifying the source and diagnosing the TMJ disorder is key to finding the least invasive and most effective treatment options. We carefully examine a patient’s physical condition and lifestyle to find the root of the problem and get people smiling again. After all, endorphins are natural pain relievers, so smiling itself is beneficial for TMJ patients.