Many of us use our smiles and other facial expressions every day! Even without realizing it, we are using our smile to help communicate with people around us, and it makes a big difference in the messages we give to people we talk to.
Studies of people with a rare type of facial paralysis show both the impact of an inability to smile, and strategies that people use when they can’t smile.
A Stigma Associated with a Lack of Expression
People who are unable to smile because they have Möbius syndrome (MS) or other types of facial paralysis are stigmatized by people they interact with. People are perceived as being less happy when they have facial paralysis. They have also been found to be more inhibited and have a lower satisfaction with life. Perhaps the most significant impact, though, is in their levels of social competence. People with facial paralysis have a harder time communicating than people with full facial function.
Communication Strategies Can Help
A recent study has shown that there are ways people with facial paralysis can improve their ability to communicate with others. With just a short workshop, individuals with MS were taught to use hand gestures and different speech patterns (prosody) to communicate their emotions when speaking to people without facial paralysis. Researchers taped social interactions between individuals with MS before and after their workshop. These interactions were rated by neutral reviewers, who found that interactions improved significantly after the workshops.
Isn’t It Better to Smile?
If you have a smile you feel is unattractive, it can be almost as if you are experiencing a type of facial paralysis. Every time you want to smile, you stifle it, making at best a slight, toothless smile that people might perceive as ironic or insincere. It’s a lot harder to communicate your true emotions. If you want to avoid smiling altogether, you could study alternate communication techniques to get around the problem, but wouldn’t it be better to just have a smile you’d be proud to share?
That’s where we can help. Cosmetic dentistry gives us many techniques that we can use to give you a smile that you’ll love to show off.