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Now that we’re into September, most of us have already gotten through the first few weeks of school, ironing out the new routine, Back to School nights, etc. The next thing we have to look forward to on our calendars is one of my most loved and disliked events: School Picture Day. I love it because I dress my daughter up to my heart’s delight (hey, I might as well take advantage of it before she starts putting her foot down). She even allows me to do her hair all pretty (simply brushing it most mornings is a battle, do you know what I mean?), complete with bows and accessories. I dislike it because there’s a lot of tension in the days leading up to the day while I constantly harass her to show me her “picture day smile”. Okay, I admit it, I’d probably be annoyed at me too. But let me go on to say that while my daughter is genuinely a beautiful girl, her “picture day smile” usually comes out a bit…fake. This year I vowed for her (and my) sake, to compile a list of 5 tips to help improve your smile. Here it goes…

1. Be natural.
Don’t think about it too much or too deeply. Smile gently instead of forcing it. Think of something that made you genuinely happy recently, whether it be a loving embrace from your parent or something nice your friend did for you in school.

2. Stand/sit up straight.
When you’re slouching or don’t have good posture, things can tend to look awkward. On the other hand, when you stand or sit up straight, you come off with an air of confidence which will come through your pictures.

3. Don’t say cheese.
As far back as my memory allows, I remember my mom always saying to me and my siblings while trying to take a picture, “Say Cheese!” When you think about it though, “cheese” actually stretches your mouth in an awkward and uncomfortable way. A more natural word to say right before a picture is taken is something that ends with the “uh” sound or something close to it, such as “Dental (pronounced den-tUHl)”.

4. Breathe.
Simply breathing in and out right before your picture is taken should calm and relax you enough to have a natural smile instead of a forced one. Focus on relaxing your facial muscles with each breath in and each breath out.

5. Practice makes perfect.
Practice your techniques for a more natural looking smile in the mirror a few days before picture day. In the mirror you can play around with different poses and positions to see which one you’re most comfortable with. Have fun with it and watch your confidence shine through as you try out different angles and smiles.

I’m pretty confident that this year things will be exciting from all angles – preparation of the perfect outfit, a beautiful hairstyle, and no stress or nagging from mom this year on having the “perfect” smile. I’ve provided all of the tools to help improve your smile. Now what are you waiting for? Get behind that camera, hold yourself high, and say “Dental”! 