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Why laughter is often the best medicine

Question: What do dentists call the x-rays they take of patients’ teeth?
Answer: Tooth pics

Hopefully, that made you laugh?

Well, we admit the joke is a little cheesy, but we couldn’t be more serious about the importance of laughter to your health. Whether you’re guffawing at the latest Netflix special or giggling with friends at work, laughing does you good. It’s a great form of stress relief, and it can ultimately have positive effects on your oral and overall health. 


Reduce stress with a daily laugh

Question: What do fish get stressed about?
Answer: Current events.

Stress can be bad news for your oral and overall health.

Too much stress can lead to teeth-grinding, which can damage teeth and cause jaw trouble. Stress also raises adrenaline and cortisol levels, which may increase your risk for gum disease.

“Stress is very tightly linked to oral health because so many people have a tooth clenching response to stress,” says Dr. Daniel Croley, Chief Dental Officer. “When we put unnecessary pressure on our teeth, it leads to micro-cracks that can turn into bigger cracks. The effects of stress on the mouth are extremely detrimental.”

A good laugh, on the other hand, helps reduce your cortisol levels. Laughing activates and then cools down your stress response, leaving you with a relaxed feeling and less tension. Laughter also stimulates circulation and helps relax your muscles, leading to an overall reduction in symptoms of stress.

“There’s an actual release of hormones in your brain when you smile,” says Dr. Croley. “It becomes most obvious how important smiling and laughing are when you have a patient who hasn’t been smiling or alters their smile to cover something. Instead of coming from a place of gratitude and joy, people deflect into this guarded, protective position. It’s not healthy for them.”


Need a workout? Try a good laugh

Question: What did the dentist say when Tiger Woods came in for an appointment?
Answer: You have a hole in one.

Laughing isn’t just good at reducing stress, it can actually act as a mild workout. Like exercise, laughter burns calories, and your body even changes when you laugh. You stretch muscles throughout your face and body, and you breathe faster, stimulating your heart and lungs and sending more oxygen to your tissues. Like exercise, laughter increases endorphins in the brain.

While we don’t recommend ditching the treadmill to watch sitcoms instead, it’s important to understand how laughter stimulates the body and how a daily dose can help you maintain your overall health and sense of well-being.


Laughter boosts immunity and reduces pain

Question: What does a dentist give a bear with a terrible toothache?
Answer: Anything it wants.

Ever notice how you always seem to catch a cold at the worst possible time? Stress can affect your body by weakening your immune system, making you more vulnerable to getting sick. Laughter and positive thoughts, on the other hand, can actually help fight stress, potentially reducing the risks of more-serious illnesses.

Laughter may also ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Some research even shows that laughter can increase pain tolerance, and the researchers even suggested using humor therapy as a method of health maintenance.


Put humor on your horizon

Question: What award does the Dentist of the Year get?
Answer: A little plaque.

Everyone loves a good laugh, and it’s good for you, too. Here are a few tips to keep you laughing, even when times get stressful:

  • Set a goal. We all know that setting goals is important when we aim to get more exercise, improve at work or lose some weight. But have you ever set yourself the goal of laughing more? Make a resolution to laugh more often. Start by taking note of the things, situations and people that make you laugh and then take the time and effort to put yourself into the company and circumstances that will keep you in good humor more often.
  • Take care of your smile. When you’re self-conscious about your teeth, you become self-conscious about your smile, and that has a profound effect on your overall well-being. “People who are self-conscious about their smile try to conceal this very vital part of communication and relationship-building,” says Dr. Croley. To keep your smile healthy, brush twice and floss daily, and keep up with regular visits to your dentist. You’re more likely to smile and laugh when you feel confident your smile is ready to be shared with the world.
  • Hold onto things that make you laugh. Keep photos, greeting cards or comic strips that make you chuckle. Hang them up at home or in the office or collect them in a file or notebook. Bookmark funny movies, podcasts, articles or YouTube videos and visit them when you need a little humor boost.
  • Share the laughter. Most importantly, commit to spending time with the friends and family members who make you laugh. And then do them a good turn by taking the time to share some funny stories and jokes with them. Smiling and laughing are essential components of how we communicate and grow close to the people around us, so be sure you’re cultivating the circumstances that keep you smiling and putting yourself in the company of the people you can laugh with.

Last updated March 14, 2023

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.