Do Your Eyes Smile?


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You have probably heard of the old saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” In today’s world, with the pandemic and so many people wearing masks, the eyes are more important than ever. People get clues to your emotions by the expression on your face. It can be challenging to “read” a person’s face when a mask covers half of it. Masks cover the mouth and therefore hide one of the facial expressions we’ve come to rely on when determining someone else’s intentions or attitude toward us. The eyes, however, can still communicate a smile’s most important message.

Smiling with Your Eyes

The eyes and eyebrows can convey information about how you are feeling. Your smile may not be visible when you are wearing a mask, but it does show up in the wrinkles on the side of your eyes. When you smile, your eyes tend to become narrow with crinkles.

You may notice a “light” or sparkle in a person’s eyes that can convey warmth, joy, and friendliness. This inner spark is visible when a person is happy or joyful. These are anxious and unsettling times that make it all the more important that our eyes convey the message our smiles usually express when wearing a mask. A masked face can be intimidating; eyes that smile can be reassuring.

The Communication Factor

We reveal all types of emotions with our expressions. Wearing a mask hides all those cues, leaving only the eyes and eyebrows to speak for us when we do not use words. There can be any number of social interactions you may experience in a day when you usually would smile at a person and not say a word.

The recipient of your smile would know that you are friendly and non-threatening. That person may smile back. Non-verbal communication completes the exchange. When your smile is not visible, it may be a little more challenging to express friendliness. Non-verbal communication is important even when your full facial expressions are visible. When that is not available, your eyes and eyebrows can reinforce your good and kind intentions.

The Extra Effort Smile

When so many are wearing masks, some people put in a little extra effort to ensure others know their intentions. A big smile behind the face cover shows up in the eyes. Some individuals nod their head or wave as an extra gesture of friendliness.

You may find yourself in various situations when a smile would put someone at ease. If your smile is hidden, an extra big smile may reassure the person when they see you smiling through your eyes. This extra-effort smile is called the Duchenne smile. It is considered the gold standard of smiles.

The French Neurologist, Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne, studied this type of smile. It lights up the entire face and engages the muscles in the cheeks to raise them and squint the eyes and use the muscles of the mouth to produce the smile. This type of smile will most assuredly be conveyed even when wearing a mask.

In this era of history, when social distancing and mask-wearing are part of everyday life, people can feel apprehensive toward one another. Without all of the facial clues we’ve relied on in the past to signify our intentions, it becomes more critical than ever to go the extra step to convey friendliness.

Patient-centered care and a warm, friendly atmosphere are essential parts of our dental practice at Nishan Halim, DMD. We always smile with our eyes and provide you and your family with the best in oral care. Take time today to schedule your next appointment with us. 

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