There’s a nice little video that teaches you how to spot a fake smile. As Beverly Hills cosmetic dentists whose livelihood depends on crafting smiles that you can’t tell aren’t natural, we were of course intrigued.

We found that, although the video is interesting, it’s based on 19th century science that has since been debunked (and it has nothing to do with our work!). We’ll explain to you what they’re teaching you to spot, and why it isn’t as accurate as we once thought.

Duchenne Smiles and Genuine Smiles

dreamstime_s_38431533What the video teaches you to look for are Duchenne smiles. These are named after the French physiologist GBA Duchenne de Boulogne. As part of his generation’s fascination with electrodes, Duchenne used them to stimulate the muscles of poor people who volunteered to take part in his experiments. In using electrodes to force people to smile, he noticed that the smiles didn’t seem sincere.

Looking at people who were smiling because they were genuinely happy, he identified the difference between his simulated smiles and the real deal: the eyes. Turns out that when we are genuinely happy, we smile with more than our mouths. In particular, the orbicularis oculi muscle, which crinkles the corner of the eye and makes crow’s feet, was thought to tell the difference between sincere and insincere smiles.

Most People Can Fake Duchenne Smiles

For more than a hundred years, we believed that this type of sincere smile just couldn’t be faked, but recent research has shown that not only can it be faked, it often is, by many people. Two recent studies have shown that when people want to, they can create the appearance of a genuine smile. Not only that, it showed that many people can fool experienced raters of genuine smiles.

You Can’t Spot a Fake Smile

The upshot of all this is that you can’t really spot a fake smile. And that goes for cosmetic dentistry, too.

If you would like to learn for yourself how natural your new smile can look, please call 310-275-5325 for an appointment at Ravon Knopf in Beverly Hills.