Real (Duchenne) Smile vs Fake Smile

Want to know the smile you received was true or fake? There is a simple test for it. True smile also known as Duchenne smile is smiling with both your mouth and eyes. It is a real and spontaneous smile if there is wrinkling at the corners of the eyes and a slight squint in them.

It is named after French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne who worked in mid-19th century on the physiology of facial expressions.  As part of a series of experiments which involved stimulating the facial muscles of test subjects with electrical currents Duchenne discovered that two specific facial muscles have to work together in order to produce a genuine smile, namely: the zygomatic major muscle and the orbicularis oculi muscle.

He described 2 different types of smile. True smile or Duchenne smile reflecting a positive affect is due to contraction of zygomatic major muscle which raises the angle of mouth and the orbicularis oculi muscle causing the wrinkling around the eyes. Fake smile (Flight attendant smile or social smile) involves just the contraction of zygomatic major muscle which raises the angle of mouth.


Social Smile                                                 Duchenne Smile

Smile like other human expressions must be taken in context with the social situation. People posing for social media photos with their pouts and things are unlikely to be real. But after all said and done smile is the best accessory you can ever wear.

Gummy Smile Correction

The beauty of a smile has to do with both aesthetics and perception. If more than 4 millimeters of gum tissue are exposed it is perceived to be gummy smile. If a gummy smile has a negative impact on patients personality, it could just be time to do something about it. First, your Plastic Surgeon will need to determine exactly why your smile looks gummy because correct diagnosis always directs us towards the best treatment.

Gumminess in your smile can be due to or a combination of these factors:

  1. Excessive display of gum tissue
  2. Excessive movement of the upper lip
  3. Excessively vertical positioning of the upper jaw and teeth in relationship to the skull

Depending on the diagnosis a treatment plan is designed. If there is excessive gum tissue then crown lengthening procedure can be done. In cases of hypermobility of the upper lip, muscles that cause excess elevation of the lip can be severed. In extreme cases orthognathic surgery is needed.

However most cases are resolved by crown lengthening or severing of the lip elevators. These are simple procedures requiring minimal downtime and don’t involve any risky manoeuvres.

In the last few years injections of botulinum toxin in to the elevators of the lip have come up. However they only result in the temporary resolution of the problem. As soon as the effect of the toxin wears off the injection has to be repeated. Due to this most of the patients prefer surgical ablation of the elevators of the lip.