Here's Where The Dimples On Your Cheeks Really Come From

You've likely noticed that some people have dimples on their cheeks when they smile while others don't. The small indentations tend to occur in families, which have led to theories that they are hereditary, according to MedlinePlus. In addition to the cheeks, dimples can occur in other parts of the skin, including the chin and lower back (via Healthline). It's also possible to have dimples on one or both sides of the mouth. 

Babies will typically have dimples caused by the baby fat in their cheeks, but once they lose this fat as they grow older the dimples can disappear. Others may not have dimples at birth but go on to develop them later in childhood. Some people have dimples only until they reach adolescence, while still others have them throughout their entire life. Dimples are common, though the exact prevalence is unknown. One study of more than 2,300 people published in 2016 found that 37 percent of the participants had cheek dimples.

How cheek dimples form

Dimples typically form as a result of an anomaly in a facial muscle called the zygomaticus major. Involved in facial expressions, this muscle is responsible for helping raise the corners of your mouth when you smile. In a person without dimples, the zygomaticus major begins at a bone in the cheek and runs down the face to the corner of the mouth. In an individual with dimples, this muscle splits on the way down to the mouth, with one section connected at the corner of the mouth and the other connected below the corner of the mouth. It's the movement of skin over this split in the zygomaticus major that causes an indentation and thus a dimple to form.

Dimples are generally thought to be a dominant genetic trait. However, not all researchers agree on this and little studies have been done into the origin of dimples or which genes may be involved. More research is needed to determine if dimples are truly inherited or not.