Is a Good Smile Essential to Beating Depression?

Feeling more than a little down? You’re not alone. According to CDC data, nearly 8% of adults in the United States — about 1 in 12 — are struggling with depression at any given moment. Depression can steal your joy and zest for life, making you feel like you have no reason to smile. But the simple act of smiling alone can help you beat depression — and you’re much more likely to do so if you have a good smile to show off.

The Power of Positivity

Smiling, in and of itself, isn’t a surefire cure or treatment for depression, but there’s a lot to be said for the power of positive thinking. Research has shown that training yourself to think positive thoughts — termed “positive automatic thoughts” — can act as a buffer against depression and anxiety. While choosing to adopt a positive outlook doesn’t mean you won’t experience depression, it means you’re less likely to have a serious reaction to the stressors that can trigger depressive episodes.
When you’re approaching life with a positive attitude, or trying your best to see the silver lining in whatever’s going on around you, you’re much more likely to smile. And smiling confers its own psychological benefits.

The Impact of a Smile

Our physical actions signal our brain to start certain reactions. For example, smelling a delicious meal stimulates your appetite. That’s the result of a physical stimulus communicating to your brain to unleash a torrent of chemical signals to your nervous system that make you feel hungry and look forward to eating.
The physical act of a smile triggers a similar reaction, encouraging your body to produce “feel-good” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. If you have a low self-image about your smile because of stains, yellowing or cosmetic issues, you’re much less likely to smile. Physical issues like pain due to cavities can also elevate your risk of succumbing to more severe depression symptoms.

Dental Care Can Improve Your Mood

Very few people look forward to spending time in their dentist’s chair, but if you’re battling the blues, you should. A simple cleaning can make you much more prone to smiling, which will bring your mood up. The fact that a dental visit is time you make just for you — a form of self-care and a minor break from the stressors of your day-to-day life — can also make you feel better.

And if your self-esteem is lower than you’d like, working with your dentist to improve your smile can help you beat being down. Doing a teeth-whitening treatment to get a dazzling smile worthy of showing off every chance you get or using Invisalign to improve minor cosmetic issues like underbite, overbite or crowding can erase embarrassment over smiling. And nothing beats the relief that comes from having a painful cavity finally taken care of — being pain-free is one of the best reasons of all to smile.

In addition to the obvious ways a visit to your dentist can help elevate your mood, there are some not-so-obvious ones as well. For example, if you deal with mild sleep apnea, your dentist may be able to improve your oxygen levels overnight by fitting you with a custom positioner to allow air from your CPAP machine to flow better — affording you a better night’s sleep. And as anyone who’s ever cried after a long day knows, lack of sleep lowers your mood and makes everything feel much worse.

How We Can Help

Your dental care isn’t just about taking care of your smile — it’s about taking care of your body and mind as one whole self. By booking an appointment to address the issues that are preventing you from smiling as much as you deserve to, you’re taking an important self-care step that can improve your dental health, overall health and mood.

The offices of Drs. Krieger and Hur know that the last thing you want to do is fight for an appointment. We’ve made it easy to get in touch with us. Simply call the office at 201-560-0606 or click here to send us an email to secure your spot today. We can’t wait to help get you smiling, thriving and living your best life.

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