What is happening in our brains when we smile?

Let’s say you experience a positive situation and you see a friend you haven’t met in a long time. This means that neuronal signals travel from the cortex of your brain to the brainstem (the oldest part of our brains). From there, the cranial muscle carries the signal further towards the smiling muscles in your face.

Sounds simple enough

And yet, that’s only where it starts. Once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy. To put more succinctly:

  • Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

Smiling then, seems to give us the same happiness that exercising induces in terms of how our brain responds. In short: our brain feels good and tells us to smile, we smile and tell our brain it feels good and so forth.

That’s why in a recent research scientists concluded “that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.” Here is a brief description of the different muscles the cranial muscle activates in our face:

Real versus fake smiles, can we tell the difference?

Whenever we smile, there are 2 potential muscles we activate. The first one is the zygomaticus major and it controls the corners of your mouth. Whenever this muscle only is activated, it’s not actually a genuine smile. Scientists call this also the “social” smile. The second muscle, known to show sincerity is the obicularis occuli and it encircles our eye socket.

The true smile also called the duchenne smile, named after the famous scientist who first separated the “mouth corners”-only smile, from the “eye socket” one. Here is a comparison:

Our brain can in fact distinguish very easily between what’s real and what’s fake. In fact researcher Dr. Niedenthal argues there are 3 ways we can do so:

  • Our brain compares the geometry of a person’s face to a standard smile
  • We think about the situation and judge whether a smile is expected.
  • Most importantly: We automatically mimic the smile, to feel ourselves whether it is fake or real. If it is real, our brain will activate the same areas from the smiler and we can identify it as a real one.

Niedenthal then experimented with how important it is to be able to mimic smiles and whether we could still tell the genuine smiles from the fake ones:

Dr. Niedenthal and her colleagues asked the students to place a pencil between their lips. This simple action engaged muscles that could otherwise produce a smile. Unable to mimic the faces they saw, the students had a much harder time telling which smiles were real and which were fake.

So the fact that we can’t try it for ourselves, leaves us almost unable to identify any smile as fake or real.

Autumn 2017 Newsletter

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Celebrate National Kissing Day

The eleventh National Kissing Day is taking place on the 23rd June 2017.

Kissing is scientifically proven to make us feel good: it releases lots of happy hormones making us feel secure, serene and lowers your levels of stress and blood pressure. It is said that kissing someone special every day is of real benefit.

And it is also good for your oral health: increased saliva flow helps fight plaque by washing away all the nasty bacteria in your mouth and helps protect your enamel by neutralising acids.

To get your ready for the big day, here are my favourite two tips to ensure your are Absolutely kissable.

  1. Get rid of bad breath!

Bad breath is mainly caused by insufficient oral care and can be really embarrassing. The bacteria in your mouth and food debris can cause a really fowl odour that you may not even be aware of.

The best way to keep your breath lovely and fresh is to clean daily between your teeth, this is where most of the bacteria will hide away; brush effectively  twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and  keep your tongue clean.

Using fluoride mouthwash at different times from brushing also helps to keep minty fresh breath.

Our lovely team of dental hygienists are always available to help you achieve a really healthy happy mouth, so remember to book regular visits.

There are really lovely mints and chewing gums on the market that can help boost the freshness between meals; but remember that they need to be sugar free and aim to purchase products containing Xylitol which is particularly good for your teeth.

Also remember to keep well hydrated to maintain good saliva levels.

2) Take care of your lips!

Cracked, chapped lips can be sore and unsightly. Make sure you use a good lip balm every day; preferably with sun protection to keep your lips hydrated, protected and healthy.

Lip balm can be worn under lipstick or lip gloss and makes it last longer too.

There are even lip exfoliating products available to make sure your lips are soft and kissable.

As for technique, well…let’s just say that practice makes perfect.

So pucker up!

PS: the longest kiss ever recorded lasted over 58 hours!


Saint Patrick’s Day: Alcohol and Your teeth

St. Patrick’s Day parties often get reputations for being epic. On the day of Irish pride, inhibitions are thrown out the window in favour of a good time. As much fun as St. Patrick’s Day parties can be, you will not only be left with a St. Patrick’s Day hangover, you will also pave the way for cavities to set up shop on your teeth.

Tooth decay is a big problem related to alcohol consumption because of the sugars and acids in alcoholic drinks. When these sugars combine with natural bacteria in the mouth they form an acid that attacks enamel, breaking it down. This is especially true when the teeth are constantly exposed to sugars and starches in alcohol without a break.

But it is not just the sugar and starches in alcohol that can be harmful to teeth. Alcohol dries out your mouth just like smoking does. Saliva is a powerful tool in reducing the incidence of cavities. Dry mouth can accelerate the damage caused by the sugar in alcohol.

So be warned. If you are going to partake in St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, brush and floss your teeth as soon as possible!

For those that are heavy drinkers and plan on a weeklong St. Patrick’s Day bender, the probability of damage from drinking is much higher.

Heavy drinking can cause:

  • Irritation of the gum, tongue and other tissues in the mouth
  • Poor healing after dental surgery
  • Poor dental health habits
  • Increase in tooth decay
  • Increased risk toward periodontal (gum) disease

Heavy drinkers are also at greater risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat and oesophagus. Obviously these are side effects that you want to avoid so if you are going out this week, take it easy. Your teeth will thank you!


Christmas Opening Times at Absolute

Christmas is nearly upon us, and here at Absolute, we are looking forward to spending some time with our loved ones, as we’re sure you all are too.

We like our patients to know that we are here to look after them – even over the Christmas period.

Our opening hours this year are as follows:

Friday 23rd Dec 8.30am – 5pm

Saturday 24th Dec Closed

Sunday 25th Dec Closed

Monday 26th Dec Closed

Tues 27th Dec Closed

Weds 28th Dec 8.30am-5pm

Thurs 29th Dec 8.30am – 5pm

Friday 30th Dec 8.30-5pm

Saturday 31st Dec Closed

Sunday 1st Jan Closed

Monday 2nd Closed

Tues 3rd Jan 8.30a.m-5pm

Weds 4th Jan Normal hours

We hope that you will not need us outside of these hours, but if you do, call us on 01548 852165 and follow the instructions on the answerphone message. baubs


Confusion in the savoury snacks aisle in Tesco!

We like to keep everything current here at Absolute Dental and so Christina and Ruth decided to update the “Healthy Snacks” leaflet we give out to our younger patients last week.

Christina our very talented dental therapist, loves a challenge and took to the internet to do her research and looked to ways to jazz up the leaflet.

We came across one surprise and thought we should share it with you…..

Plain breadsticks (often a common lunch box favourite of mums and considered a good healthy snack and an alternative to sweet biscuits) left us all scratching our heads.

We checked the ingredients of Tesco Plain Breadsticks, and NO sugar – result!

We looked at the mini alternatives too – better for little eaters! Once again, NO sugar – perfect!

However, the problem comes when we looked at the more convenient “lunch box” alternative, the same Original Mini Breadsticks but in handy individual packs……..

…..In these, the third ingredients on the list (in other words, the 3rd largest ingredients in the product) is SUGAR!!!!!
Christina quickly emailed Tesco to highlight this to them, and raised her concern that in her effort to promote “healthy snacks” to patients to reduce tooth decay, the message can easily become confused by inconsistencies such as these – and went on to ask them when they would be removing sugar from their recipe!
The response from Tesco was swift, and is as follows:
Dear Christina

Thanks for emailing me.

I’m sorry to learn that you’re unhappy with the sugar content found within our own brand breadstick; after reading through your email I can understand your concern with this.

I’m unable to make a decision as to changing any part of a products recipe but I’ve now spoken to my Business Support Team and have advised them of your concerns with the sugar content; they’ve taken this as feedback that we can give to our suppliers as a suggestion.

Thank you for taking the time to email me; if I can be of any further assistance please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,

Aaron Watson

Tesco Customer Service

Tesco Customer Engagement Centre

We are sharing this with you as we feel many people would examine food labels as closely as we were able to on this occasion – and want to raise awareness that even the healthiest seeming snacks are not all that they seem.
Maybe some of you will be motivated by this to read labels more closely – or even do as Christina has done and drop an email to a high street shop…..we need to take action on this, either on a personal level or on a larger scale to try and change the health of a nation an their teeth.
Please share this to raise awareness – and maybe a few back to school pack lunches will look a bit different next week…..

Microbeads and Toothpaste

There has been much talk in the news recently about “microbeads” and how some organisations, such as Greenpeace, are campaigning and petitioning the Prime Minister to ban the unnecessary use of these plastics in our cosmetics.

They slip down the plug hole and end up in our oceans, polluting the waters and ending up in the stomachs of sea birds, fish, whales and other marine life.

As the public become more aware of this, at Absolute Dental we are being more frequently asked to recommend toothpastes that do NOT contain microbeads, and so we thought we would share the information with all of you who read our blog! Please feel free to share these links with anyone else you know who has an interest in preserving our oceans!

Firstly, if you check the “ingredients” for many cosmetics, microbeads are often listed as


There are now hundreds of cosmetic producers who do NOT use microbeads in their products, toothpaste producers included.

Here is a link for you to click on and find out if your preferred cosmetic provider and toothpaste manufacturer use microbeads. This is a list of all products that currently do NOT contain microbeads – toothpaste manufacturers start on page 26.


This is what oral care giant Colgate have to say about microbeads:

“Colgate used microbeads in a limited number of oral care and personal care products to enhance aesthetics and aid in cleaning. However, some groups raised concerns regarding the potential contribution of microbeads to pollution of the world’s oceans. Recognizing that consumers have questions, as of year-end 2014 we are no longer using microbeads. More recently, consumer questions have extended beyond microbeads to some polymer-based materials, many of which dissolve in water and biodegrade. Colgate continues to monitor the science and evaluate our use of polymer-based ingredients to ensure continued improvements in the environmental profile of our products”


We hope you find this information useful, and if you want to know more about the harmful effects of microbeads, please visit the Greenpeace website.


Beauty Blogging and the rise of DIY teeth whitening

Straight, white, glowing teeth have always been a signifier of both glowing health and radiant beauty, something that the majority of us will invest time and money in achieving. In recent years, with the rise of online video gurus and beauty blogs becoming the faces and flagships of whats in and on trend, fashion and beauty is now governed by women and men writing and filming from often the comfort of their own bedrooms, often broadcasting their personal thoughts to audiences all over the world in their vast numbers. So, its no surprise that  ‘how-to-achieve-a-bleach-white-smile’ in its many forms has been an issue much discussed online, with thousands of ‘DIY whitening’ kits and products being tested, reviewed, purchased, and almost as many ‘homemade’ teeth whitening techniques being tried and deliberated.

So what’s the issue here? Mainly, the risks to your teeth and oral health that come with advice given by someone whom is not a medical professional, and products available to the public that have not been clinically tested. Already, countless chemical teeth whitening products have been recalled and banned for containing potentially harmful, toxic substances, as it is very easy to sell a non tested product on the internet.

Many of these DIY home remedies, that can bee seen on blogs that often have one million plus subscribers, such as ‘brushing your teeth with a little bicarbonate of soda’ to achieve pearly whites, are so corrosive, and detrimental to the external surface of your teeth, the unsuspecting reader may end up permanently damaging their teeth all together!

Now, this is not to say and information of teeth whitening not given to you by a dentist is wrong. For example, the method of ‘coconut pulling’, placing a marble sized amount of coconut butter in your mouth and chewing, is a method currently being studied by medical professionals, not yet given the green light (the benefits and risks are not yet fully known or understood), but not condemned either – it appears that this is a perfectly harmless way of naturally whitening the teeth.
So, if you’re looking for a brighter smile, what you should be doing, is asking your dentist before trying anything at home – or purchasing something dodgy!

It’s a string thing

Following an investigation by the Associated Press, the world’s media has been awash with stories questioning the medical value of flossing in recent weeks.

For the investigation, the AP looked at ‘the most rigorous research’ conducted over the last decade, focusing on 25 studies that compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrush and floss.

The investigation found that the evidence of flossing is ‘weak, very unreliable’, of ‘very low quality’, and carries ‘a moderate to large potential for bias’.

However as Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association (BDA) points out: ‘the difficulty is trying to get good evidence. People are different and studies are costly to do.’

In light of the news that there’s a lack of evidence supporting the benefits of using dental floss, key opinion leaders and health organisations have been highlighting the importance of regular interdental cleaning.

So what do the experts say?

“Small interdental brushes are preferable for cleaning the area in between teeth, where there is space to do so. Floss is of very little value unless the spaces between your teeth are too tight for the interdental brushes to fit without causing harm or hurting.”
Professor Damien Walmsley

“Evidence supports the use of small interdental brushes for cleaning between teeth, where there is space, in preference to flossing. Floss is not a waste of time – it is a viable alternative to interdental brushing where appropriate. Public England Health makes a similar recommendation’’ – Philip Ower BSP President

Dental professionals have a duty to ensure patients understand the difference between flossing and interdental cleaning and recognise the importance of using interdental brushes as part of their oral hygiene routine at home.

from the magazine Oral Health Vol No 4

Turning back the clock at Absolute Dental!

Botox might do more than simply paralyze facial muscles to create a more youthful appearance.

New research suggests the anti-aging treatments may also turn back the clock on facial skin itself, aiding its ability to stretch and recoil.

In a recent study Dr. James Bonaparte, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada wrote that Botox treatment seems to promote production of elastin and collagen, a pair of proteins that make young skin tight, firm and flexible,

“We found if we treat people with Botox using standard techniques, we see an increase in elasticity, which is what you’d see in people with more youthful skin,” Bonaparte said. “We’re actually seeing evidence that we, for some reason, are getting more elastin and collagen in the skin.”
As people age, repeated facial expressions wrinkle the face. At the same time, levels of elastin and collagen decline in the skin, causing it to sag. These two factors contribute to facial ageing.

Bonaparte and his colleagues gave 48 women, average age 55, their first-ever Botox injections, treating the skin between the eyebrows and around the eyes. They then followed the women for four months to see how the injections affected the skin.

They found that the Botox increased the stretchiness and elastic recoil of the women’s faces, causing changes in composition that mimicked more youthful skin

“It’s temporary, but it’s not a byproduct of swelling, and it’s not a byproduct of muscle contraction. It’s something that’s intrinsic to the skin itself,” said Dr. Catherine Winslow, an Indianapolis plastic surgeon who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.

There’s no clear reason why Botox has this effect. Bonaparte believes that the cells that produce elastin and collagen may contain a receptor that somehow responds to Botox. If that’s the case, future drugs could target that receptor with even better results than those produced by Botox.

“We may be able to develop some medications that don’t require injection, that you can apply topically and get the same skin rejuvenation effect as Botox,” he said.


Botox might have an antioxidant effect on skin tissue. The muscles of the face produce waste products as they move . These toxins may damage the skin’s elastin and collagen. By paralyzing the facial muscles, she suspects Botox gives the skin a chance to heal itself from this damage.

There could be a simpler answer .  Paralysis caused by Botox simply gives collagen and elastin a chance to recover from constant motion and settle back into position.

The research team will next investigate whether extended use of Botox can have long-term benefits for the face, Bonaparte said. Prior studies have shown that people who frequently use Botox are able to get by with lower doses over time, and can go longer periods between injections.

If you would like to turn back the hands of time, call us today on 01548 852165 for your facial aesthetics consultation.