Can You Spot a Fake Smile vs. a Real One?

Is this little boy's smile genuine or fake?

Is this little boy’s smile genuine or fake?

Many people are unable to spot a fake smile. Fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles; however, there are slight differences. This is because they are brought about by different muscles controlled by different parts of the brain.

For example, fake smiles can be performed at will because the brain signals that create the smile come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract. These muscles pull the corners of the mouth outwards.

Genuine smiles, on the contrary, are generated by the unconscious brain and are automatic. When people feel pleasure, these signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion, making the mouth muscles move as well as the muscles that raise the cheeks. Muscles called the orbicularis oculi and the pars orbitalis also contract, making the skin around the eyes crease up and eyebrows dip downward.

Sometimes, even with intense fake smiles, lines around the eyes will appear and the cheeks may bunch up making it look as if the eyes are contracting and the smile is genuine. However, the key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones are when the eye cover fold – the skin between the eyebrow and the eyelid – moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.

Hopefully you are giving and receiving more real smiles than fake but, regardless of the origin, be sure to brush at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once daily and visit your dentist regularly so you can proudly show off your grin.

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