Isn’t ironic that, as dentists, we often don’t take the time to smile? We spend all of our time giving our patients beautiful, healthy smiles that they will feel great about. However, we ourselves get so caught up in the daily grind that we often go around with a stony expression or, worse, a near-permanent frown. In my capacity as a dentist business coach, I cannot overemphasize the importance of smiling. It’s not just about your appearance. Smiling greatly impacts your mood and even your physical health. Additionally, when you smile, it changes the way that others feel. A smiling dentist is likely to have a more successful practice overall.
Smiling Affects Your Attitude
When you’re feeling anxious or simply a little blue, the last thing you want is for someone to tell you to smile. However, it turns out that your well-meaning friends and family are right. Recent studies have confirmed that smiling boosts your mood and reduces stress. It increases your body’s production of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
Since we smile when we are happy, how do we know that smiling causes these biochemical reactions? Maybe we smile in response to the release of these chemicals. A recent study, performed by researchers at the University of Kansas, shows that the act of smiling itself is responsible for these biochemical and emotional responses. Even a fake smile can reduce stress and lower your heart rate. The researchers asked a group of 169 students to manipulate their facial expressions using chopsticks. Some of the students were told to make a neutral expression. Others turned their mouths up in a fake smile. The remaining students made a “genuine smile,” affecting the eye muscles, as well as the mouth. Then they were told to perform various tasks while keeping their mouths in these positions. Researchers monitored participants’ heart rates throughout the process. They also asked the students to comment on their stress levels. Once the tasks were complete, the smiling students had much lower heart rates. Although those with a genuine smile had the lowest levels of all, even those with a fake smile were calmer than the participants with neutral expressions. With no sense of cutesy-ness or irony, researchers concluded that “putting on a happy face” really could be the key to greater satisfaction and wellbeing.
Your Dentist Business Coach: Smiling Impacts Those around You
As dentists, we work hard to create a sense of comfort in our practices. We want our patients to feel at ease, and we hope our team feels relaxed and motivated at work. However, no matter how luxurious our offices are, and no matter how many employee perks we offer, a smile is what will truly set people at ease. According to a Swedish study, smiling really is contagious. Researchers at Uppsala University presented participants with pictures of people with various moods. When they saw pictures of happy people, there was a muscular response in the zygomatic major muscles, used in smiling. When presented pictures of unhappy people, they moved their corrugator supercilii muscles, employed when frowning. An additional Swedish study from the University of Lund reveals that when people mimic others’ facial expressions, they experience some of the same emotional responses.
Thus, when you smile (even if you have to fake it), your patients and your team are likely to respond in kind. This will lead to overall greater patient satisfaction and compliance. It will also increase team happiness and productivity. We spend all day thinking about smiles. Don’t let yours go overlooked. As a dentist business coach, I can truly say that a smile is one of the top tools at our disposal.