The smile is the most scientifically studied human facial expression, and for good reason. Many of us don't realize it, but our smiles tell others quite a bit about us before we even speak a single word.
The frequency with which we smile and how our smiles look can reveal some pretty crazy things about our potential for success, our ability to conceive and even our ability to make a marriage work.
If you're curious to find out what your grin says about you and your future, check out these five strange facts about smiles.
The health of your teeth and gums serve as a strong indicator of your overall health. This holds especially true for women who are trying to conceive.
According to a report by Medical News Today, a woman's chances of becoming pregnant can depend on how well she takes care of her teeth and gums.
Researchers in this report said the effect of gum disease on conception is almost as important as the effect of obesity.
The study they based this theory off of proved women with gum disease take an average of two months longer to conceive than women with healthy gums.
If you're a female whose smile reveals inflammation of your gums, excessive plaque buildup and/or traces of hardened plaque (tartar), this could mean it will be more difficult for you to conceive.
The appearance of your smile shows your potential for dominance. According to Justin Causier, founder of Actualize Dental Clinics, individuals with “fanged” canine teeth could be perceived as more dominant in social situations.
Studies also show fighters who smiled in photos taken before a match were more likely to lose to fighters who opted for a stern face in their photos.
Researchers chalked this up to the fact that fighting is about dominance and the presence of a smile may indicate a person is less dominant, hostile or aggressive in certain situations.
If you're a fang-toothed frowner, it's likely you're the alpha male or female of your friend group.
Your earning potential
A study published in 2012 revealed individuals who were considered “happy” in their teens were more likely to earn above average income later in life.
The study followed 10,000 participants for 10 years, starting from adolescence and ending when the participants turned 29.
Their findings showed the teens who exhibited behavior indicating happiness went on to earn 10 percent more income than average at the end of the study.
In contrast, teens who were generally unhappy earned 30 percent less income than average at age 29.
A report on this study said researchers weren't entirely sure why happiness in teen years had such a strong correlation to earning potential in adulthood, but some speculated it might have something to do with their ability to focus on the future.
Andrew Oswald, a researcher in this study and professor of economics at the University of Warwick, said,
Basically, people who were generally happy and smiled more often in their youth are more likely to earn the big bucks now. Teenagers, take note.
Your desire for perfection
We all know how awful it is to endure the horrible taste and burning sensation of a whitening strip.
We've always had a strong desire to brighten and whiten our smiles as much as humanly possible, especially in America. Experts say this is because having a nice set of pearly whites is somewhat of a status symbol for Americans.
We often associate the shade of someone's teeth with their level of attractiveness. This is why a seriously white smile is a trait often shared by perfectionists.
Jonathan Long, co-founder of Sexy Smile Kit, says his clientele is comprised mostly of individuals who place high importance on their appearance.
If you're a bit of a perfectionist yourself, it's very possible you're chewing your fourth piece of whitening gum while reading this article.
Your ability to make a marriage work
Apparently, the “intensity level” of your smile in old yearbook photos could determine your potential to make a marriage last in the future.
A study conducted by a group of psychologists ran two separate tests that concluded those with bigger smiles in school photos from the past were more successful in their current marriages.
The first test looked at college yearbook photos and rated the smile intensity of each photo from 1 to 10. None of the participants included in the top 10 percent of the study in terms of “smile strength” were divorced.
Even more interestingly, the divorce rate among individuals in the bottom 10 percent was shockingly high, with nearly one in four of the participants having had a divorce.
In the second test, researchers asked a group of individuals over the age of 65 to provide photos from their childhood.
Once again, they scored each person's smile and found only 11 percent of the bigger smilers had been divorced. Once again, the results for low-scored smiles were pretty bleak, with 31 percent of frowners having ended a marriage.
If you're a teenager reading this, you're probably exercising your cheek muscles to gain a stronger smile as we speak.
If, like me, you're past your teens, it's possible you're skimming old yearbook photos and Myspace pics to see if you would consider yourself a “happy” teen with an intense smile.
Either way, it's not too late to floss your teeth and throw on a whitening strip so you can feel confident enough to flash an extra smile or two each day.