If you want to maintain your youthful appearance, you might want to wipe that smile off your face.

That’s the conclusion of a new study from Ontario’s Western University and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, according to CTV News in Canada. The research has been published in the journal “Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.”

Researchers found that smiling can make people look a year older than if their lips and mouth are in a straight, neutral position.

If that surprises you, you might be happy with what that emotion does for your youthful appearance. The same study found that a look of profound shock can subtract time off your perceived age.

People simply can’t ignore the wrinkles that form around your eyes when you smile, says study co-author Melvyn Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University. Exhibiting a look of surprise smoothens those wrinkles, however.

“We associate smiling with positive values and youth,” Goodale stated in a Western University press release. “Think of all the skin-care and toothpaste companies that sell the same idea every day.”

In spite of this shocking news, there’s a good argument for keeping your smile looking its best and not being bashful about showing it off. Even though participants rated smiling faces as older, they still believe that a smile makes a person appear younger.

Researchers questioned participants afterward regarding their perceptions, and they erroneously recalled that they had identified smiling faces as the youngest ones, Goodale says, adding, “They were completely blind to the fact they had ‘aged’ the happy-looking faces. Their perceptions and their beliefs were polar opposites.”

Perhaps a study wasn’t needed to reach this revelation. Scientists might have just gone to fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham instead. The 43-year-old is famous for not smiling in paparazzi photos. Although her neutral expression may make her look younger, it’s the fear of appearing silly that keeps her grin in check.

She once told “T Magazine” that she smiles in family photos, but “When you’re in a position to be paparazzi-ed just walking down the street, you’d look a little daft if you were smiling all the time.”

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

Show me a study that tells you one thing, and it’s almost certain there is another study that tells you the opposite. This most recent study isn’t immune to that fact. Let’s go back to 2011, when a group of researchers investigated possible determinants of accuracy and bias in age estimation across the adult life span. Their results were published in the journal “Psychology and Aging.”

The study asked 154 young, middle-aged, and older men and women to guess the ages of nearly 200 faces of men and women of varying ages in more than 2,000 pictures. The photographed faces portrayed anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness or a neutral expression. The facial expressions had quite an impact on age estimations. The people who expressed happy expressions in pictures typically were believed to be younger than their actual age, the study found.

Another study conducted by NIVEA Q10plus in 2015 to mark the launch of an anti-wrinkle serum also found that a smile takes an average of two years off your face, and it makes you appear more popular and generous, according to a Daily Mail article.

Researchers asked 2,000 people to guess the age of 12 women who were between 28 and 69 years old. The women were photographed while looking happy and sad, as well as exhibiting neutral expressions.

Smiling offers other advantages, according to psychologist Miriam Akhtar, who is quoted in the Daily Mail article. Besides having more vitality and longevity, happy people are more successful, popular, sociable, confident and generous. Our Raleigh family dental friends, Wells Family Dental Group, often state their happiest patients are the ones with the best teeth.

Smiling also reduces stress, releases endorphins and relaxes the body so you appear and feel less tired and worn-out, Akhtar says.

“Regular exercise of the facial muscles, which smiling does, also helps by increasing blood circulation to the face which can make us look more youthful,” she says.

Many cosmetic surgeons also agree that smiling makes you appear younger, due to the smile’s ability to elevate your facial tissues and pull up some of the sagging tissue.

Aging Habits to Break

If you’re concerned about your face prematurely aging, I say keep on smiling. But Health.com says you might consider curbing these behaviors:

  • Sipping through a straw. Pursing your lips while using a straw can lead to premature wrinkles around the mouth.
  • Sleeping on your stomach or side. Doing so presses your face into your pillow and can create wrinkles.
  • Keeping it too warm in your house. Hot, dry air inflames the skin and sucks the moisture out of it. That can age the skin.
  • Going overboard on a low-fat diet. Fat in your diet assists in keeping your skin supple and plump.
  • Using sunscreen only when you’re at the beach. UV rays are a huge culprit in damaging and aging your skin every day.

Smile with Confidence

Regardless of which studies you choose to believe, it’s one thing to refrain from smiling because you want to maintain that youthful appearance, but it’s another if you don’t smile because you’re embarrassed about the appearance of your teeth.

A smile should be something you are proud to show off whenever you want, and orthodontic treatment can help you achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of. A variety of treatment options are available these days to meet the needs of any patient, regardless of age.

More adults than ever are seeking treatment, thanks to innovative technologies that make appliances work faster while being less noticeable. Don’t let the fear of wearing those silver “train track” braces stand between you and your smile.

Our office offers Invisalign treatment, which uses a series of clear, plastic aligners to gently guide teeth into their ideal position over the course of time. The aligners are virtually unnoticeable when worn.

We also offer self-ligating braces, which deliver great results in record time. Although people may be able to see that you’re in orthodontic treatment, you won’t be in it for long!

Please call our office today if you would like to learn more about how orthodontic treatment can give you a reason to smile: (305) 598-3384.

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