• ALFIE Dentistry

Get your Smile Holiday-Ready!


"OK, everyone: squeeze in together and say 'Cheese'!"


If the holidays wasn't stressful enough, when your smile isn't *quite* the way you want it to look, the thought of trying to smile in photos can be something of a stressor in and of itself. And as you're probably well aware: it shows. Maybe no one (including you) will say it out loud, but when you look back at these photographs, the voices in your head begin critiquing:


"Why does it look like I'm constipated?"

"Yuck, too much gum is showing."

"Eep, you can barely see my eyes."

"That smile just looks so fake."

etc, etc.


But, you can fake the perfect smile and there are things you can do to improve its appearance. Here's our list of the top 10 things you can do so you can smile with confidence.


1) Smile Genuinely


LOL, yes, we know - especially in the case for photographs - that this is easier said than done. But, one trick of the trade is to have a go-to 'happy thought' - that you can pull up quickly for each photo. This can be something funny you saw on the internet. This can be the thought of cute puppies/kittens. Whatever makes you light up - that's what you think about the next time someone gets their camera ready.


2) Mirroring


Some researchers say that humans (and primates) are wired to mirror others. Hypotheses on why we do this include allowing us to relate to others more easily and to allow us to display appropriate responses to external stimuli. Whatever the reason may be, if you have a friend nearby to smile at you (or the camera-person), your instinct will be to return a smile - which will look more natural than if you didn't have a smiley person around. (We use this technique at the office all the time :D).


3) Smile Slowly


Oftentimes, when we smile quickly and spontaneously in response to something pleasant that has happened, we show off too many teeth, we show off too much gum and/or our eyes turn to slits. While these are genuine and can make for excellent candid photography, when you're posing, it can make you look a little off. So, turn the corners of your mouth up slowly. If you have a tendency of baring too much teeth/gums, smile naturally, then intentionally take it down a notch.


4) Practice, Practice, Practice


Sounds like a wonky idea to 'practice smiling', but, as they always say: practice makes better. For some people, smiling comes naturally. For others, it could be awkward and unfamiliar - especially if we're not regularly doing it. So, try out different 'looks' in front of a mirror (closed-mouth smiles vs open-mouth smiles vs the-smile-you-get-after-making-funny-faces-at-yourself, etc). And once you find a smile that looks good on you, keep practicing it so that it trains your body to remember it (check out the term "muscle memory".


5) Play with Different Angles


This suggestion kind of plays into 'practicing' smiling as well as the 'mirroring' tip - you should try variations so you have things to compare to and switching up the angle can make a difference in how you look in photographs. Don't be afraid to take a page out of the selfie-obsessed-generations and try shooting pictures of your face from different angles. Through experimenting, you might even find 'your best side' :D.


Alternatively, you can switch up the head position to create a new look. According to a quick google search, try drawing your head forward, turning the chin up and then smiling to avoid the double-chin look.


6) Relax


No really! We're really telling you to think happy thoughts, to make sure to smile slowly, to establish the perfect poise, to do X, Y and Z and now, we're telling you to relax as you do these 50 million things before a 1-second photo, LOL.


It only sounds like a laundry list of 'things to do before a photo' - but keep in mind, you don't have to do all of these to achieve a natural-looking smile. Fact of the matter is, different tips work for different people, so choose your favourite tip out of the list and find out works for you. We repeat: You. Don't. Have. To. Do. All. The. Things. To. Get. A. Photogenic. Smile.


So, having said that, here's how you can relax before a photo. Neutralize your facial muscles by unsmiling your weird-awkward-potentially-creepy smile for a second. Relax, regroup, and reset. Then break into your slow smile (most camera-people do a countdown of 3-2-1-cheese anyway, so use that time to your advantage!) A couple of slow, deep breaths during your prep-time will also help to relax.


7) Smile with your Eyes


Ok, so several things with the eyes. If we smile too enthusiastically, the eyes will turn to slits (which we don't want in a photo). If we force and fake a smile, you can sometimes tell because the action only happens in the mouth and it can look like a grimace more than anything. A true, genuine, spontaneous smile involves the entire face - and is called the "Duchenne smile".


But can it be faked? It sure can! Just make sure than when you smile, bring some awareness to what's happening in the eyes. Allow some crinkling in the corners of the eyes and the cheeks to lift up. And this actually made us laugh out loud - because when you overdo it and over-exaggerate the Duchenne smile, you can also be perceived as a liar. So make sure you involve some 'smiling of the eyes" but not too much - if in doubt, practice, practice, practice.


8) Try Different Lipstick Colours


Did you know that the shade of your lipstick can make your teeth look more yellow or more white? We are, by no means make-up experts, so here is an article that may be more helpful in your quest for the picture-perfect shade - they've included comparison photos, so you can make informative decisions on what'll look best on you.


9) At-Home (or In-Office) Whitening


One super easy way to boost your smile attractiveness is to whiten teeth. Read about that here. When you feel more confident in your own skin, it's easier to smile naturally. We have two systems of dental whitening at ALFIE - either Zoom Whitening (which is done in-office) or you can choose Opalescence Whitening to take home.


With Zoom Whitening, you should plan for one appointment and you'll walk out with whiter teeth in the same day. We use concentrated whitening gel and improve results using LED light technology.


Opalescence Whitening is designed for safe usage at home. Each box contains a set of trays which can be used daily to gently whiten teeth. Since it is used over a course of at least a week, its formulation is less concentrated and better results are seen with more consistent usage.


10) Aesthetic Dental Treatments


Yes, we all saw this coming - but we would be leaving a large chunk of untouched territory if we didn't at least mention that you can achieve the smile of your dreams by seeing an aesthetic dentist (like our team)!


We offer dental whitening services (as mentioned above), veneers, implants, crowns, braces, full mouth reconstruction, etc - so depending on your needs and timeline, we could technically have your smile holiday-ready for this year - or if more work needs to be done, then future seasons. For example, if you chipped a front tooth, it's possible to repair within the same appointment. But, if you have crooked teeth and want orthodontic treatment, this will no doubt take longer.


But even if the quoted timeline is set for 2019 (or later), your new smile will serve you the rest of your life - likely with a couple of repairs, touch-ups, maintenance treatments and/or minor fixes along the way - but these are as-needed and are more or less expected, even if you have all-natural teeth.


Call our office for your initial examination to see how our team can help you: (416) 226-6688.




ALFIE Dentistry - Dr. Shirley Cheong, Dr. Kenny Chan & Associates

172 Willowdale Avenue.  Toronto, ON. M2N 4Y8. (416) 226-6688.  

6212 Yonge Street, Unit 4. Toronto, ON. M2M 3X4.  (416) 222-4762.

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