Will your own smile change your life?

(NC) -- Smiling happens without much thought. We tend to think of it as a natural response to a positive event that shares our happiness with others.

Nicole McCance, a registered psychologist in Toronto, believes that most people don't understand the full benefits of smiling. While it is easy to see that it can make us look happier and more attractive, it's harder to understand that smiling is also good for our health. There are surprising and profound long-term benefits just from this simple gesture.

McCance points to research which suggests that the act of smiling, in and of itself, can bring the following benefits:

- One study found that women flashing bright, warm smiles in their college yearbook photos reported experiencing less anxiety, sadness and despair in the 30 years after graduating. They reported being more socially connected to others and having more fulfilling lives.

- Whether you are happy in the moment or not, putting a smile on your face can relieve stress. It has been shown that different types of smiling, as well as the awareness of smiling, affect our ability to recover from episodes of stress.

- You feel less physical pain with a smile on your face. A study showed that people who frown during an unpleasant procedure report feeling more pain than those who do not.

Another study commissioned by Philips Sonicare showed that a nice smile is also key to overall confidence. For those of us who would like that kind of boost with a healthy, beautiful smile, Philips suggests that we try a power toothbrush, like the Sonicare DiamondClean, which whitens teeth in just one week and removes up to 7 times more plaque than a manual toothbrush.

Better oral care extends beyond teeth and gums. It improves our confidence, health and happiness – and that is definitely something to smile about.