Why positive surprises can make you smile

Posted on May 1, 2020 in General oral health

father and child hugging and playingWhether it’s a nice note or a thoughtful gift, a pleasant surprise can make your day. Here’s what’s happening when a surprise makes you smile.

How you progress from surprised to smiling

All surprises interrupt your thoughts. That’s why your initial reaction is to concentrate on the unexpectedness. Whether this unanticipated event ultimately makes you happy or not, you feel surprised and immediately try to make sense of it. Once you understand what is happening, you will quickly appreciate and welcome the surprise — assuming it is positive.

That’s when you show your happiness by smiling. The welcomed surprise makes you smile because the pleasure center of the brain (the nucleus accumbens) has a more intense response to something pleasurable when it is unexpected. 

How can you make a friend or loved one smile? Consider taking a task off of their to-do list, buying flowers for no reason, celebrating an obscure holiday or sending a video greeting. 

Ways to keep your smile healthy for your next pleasant surprise

  • Invest in a dental plan. People with dental coverage are 40% more likely to see a dentist at least once a year, compared to those without coverage. Take advantage of dental benefits from your employer (if available) or purchase an individual plan from Delta Dental of Illinois.
  • Practice great oral health every day. It’s no surprise that a predictable routine is vital for great oral health. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily.
  • Know what snacks can do to your smile. While most people know sugar isn’t good for their teeth, starchy foods such as white bread, crackers, pretzels and potato chips can have a similar effect. They can easily get stuck between teeth and break down into simple sugars that cause cavities. If you do indulge, chew sugar-free gum and drink water to help remove starches.
  • Keep floss on the go. It’s easy to stash extra floss in your car, office, purse or pocket. That way you can avoid using toothpicks. While they seem helpful, toothpicks can actually injure your gums and leave bacteria in your mouth.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Gum disease, and even cavities, can be relatively painless in their early stages. So it’s important to keep regularly scheduled checkups to treat any dental issues before they become painful.

Practice these oral health habits and you may be surprised how much they help your smile.