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Grateful and smiling for all that is good in our lives

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We all hope you had an excellent Thanksgiving!

The Hometown Dental crew and I certainly did, and we agreed that this year, the holiday felt more significant than ever.
These days, I see more folks trading in their warm smiles for perpetual jaw-clenching frowns, despite our attempts to distract patients with Netflix while they’re in for a cleaning or other treatment. It’s understandable, given what we’re all going through.

And just so you know, we encourage watching ANYTHING but the news while we restore your teeth to their shiny best… no sense in raising your blood pressure and making our hygienists’ work harder!

Yes, it’s easy to feel despair when the world seems out of control, and anger when things don’t go our way.  

Smiling your way out of that funk

I might not be a neuropsychologist (maybe that should be my next extra-curricular project?), but even this dentist knows that the muscles in your face can ‘trick’ your mind into feeling particular emotions. While your brain tells the muscles in your face to frown when you’re unhappy or doubtful about something, the reverse can be true as well: facial expressions themselves can affect your mood.

You’ve heard of laugh therapy? As it turns out, research has shown that the simple act of smiling also has positive health effects:

When you smile, your brain releasestiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas serotonin is an antidepressant. One study even suggests that smiling can help us recover faster from stress and reduce our heart rate. In fact, it might even be worth your while to fake a smile and see where it gets you. There’s been some evidence that forcing a smile can still bring you a boost in your mood and happiness level. (Source:
That mind and body – and teeth – connection is real. 

Try it for yourself!

Start by frowning, and then hold that frown for twenty seconds… how does that make you feel? 

Now try smiling (let’s see some pearly whites!) and hold your smile for twenty seconds… can you feel an inner shift in your mood, just from the physical change in your facial expression and regardless of what you’re thinking?

Even better, the positive health effects of smiling are contagious. The reward centre of our brain is activated when we see other people smile, too!

Cool, huh?

Finding reasons to smile

I may have learned how powerful the simple act of smiling can be while I was in the military.  While on assignment in Timor Leste and Micronesia as a participant  in Pacific Partnership 2011, which was a humanitarian mission led by the US Navy, I treated many patients who did not have access to regular health care yet their attitude and positive energy was infectious.

I found that the most underprivileged people I treated always found a reason to smile and laugh despite the hardships they experienced in their lives. And believe me, most of them experienced hardships on a daily basis that many of us will never know in a lifetime, pandemic or no pandemic. It was a very humbling takeaway.   

And that’s why when I’m feeling down or hard done by, I take a moment to think of all that is good in my life… and then I can’t help but smile and feel most of my stress and negative emotions melt away. 

Sometimes, it’s beneficial to take a deep breath and step away from our various struggles, to take a moment to reflect on our circumstances. To be mindful of that mind and body connection, of the power behind smiling and laughter. 

What keeps us smiling at Hometown Dental

The past year-and-a-half has made me especially aware of how supportive the community in and around Okotoks has been to Hometown Dental, and how it has enabled us to flourish even in hard times. 

I am very grateful to you, our patients, for your understanding, loyalty, and kindness in these hard times.  

Some of the amazing ladies I have the privilege of working with also wanted to share the things for which they are thankful. 

From Lorraine 

I’m grateful for the hardworking team I have, always going the extra mile every day. xoxoxo

From Lacey

I am grateful for my two healthy, beautiful children and my wonderful husband that keeps our family running smoothly.  

From Delayney

I am grateful for teammates that are like family. 

I am grateful for the health of myself and all those around me.

I am grateful for all of the love I am surrounded by.

I am grateful for my parents, they are my biggest supporters in anything I do.

I am grateful for time spent on the back of a horse. There’s no better place to be. 

I am grateful to wake up and live  my best life every single day! 

We truly are blessed, and hope that you feel that way too. 

Help us spread kindness and smiles

Thanksgiving is always a good time to reflect on the things for which we are grateful, but I for one will commit to doing so more frequently throughout the year. It’s so easy to take good things for granted!

As that Cinderella song went, “You don’t know whatcha got, till it’s gooooooone.” Uh-oh… am I dating myself?

I’m also resolving to smile more in public, especially at strangers or people that I normally disagree with. Yep! Disarm them with a friendly smile – it’s contagious and good for the soul!

That’s really what it all comes down to, isn’t it? Being nice, patient, and respectful to everyone.

I think that’s a critical first step to making the world around us a kinder, more tolerant place. What do you think? 

Afraid to show your smile?

Keeping your lips sealed tight over those teeth because you’re self-conscious of the way they look? 

If that’s all that’s stopping you from joining our quest to spread kindness and smiles, we’ve got solutions for you, from teeth whitening treatments, to clear alignment therapy, crowns, dentures, veneers, and much more. 

Call 403-982-3100 to set up your appointment today!  Have questions? Call or contact us, we’d be happy to help!

And remember…

Things will be better. The sun will rise again tomorrow. 

There is so much to be grateful for, and so much to smile about… even in hard times.

Written by Dr. JJ

Meet the leader of the Hometown Dental team — Dr. JJ!

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