In a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, University of California researchers found that more attractive people make more money ... significantly more to the tune of an average of 12 percent. The study also reported that attractive people are consistently judged and treated more positively, and the results show that 39 percent of attractive men and women were judged to be helpful, compared to 16 percent of middle attractive people, and only 6 percent of unattractive people. On a job interview, an attractive person was consistently hired more than a less attractive person and generally considered to be a better "team player."

One of the most important and powerful elements of a person's attractive appearance is their smile. It exudes warmth, and reflects the confidence that employers are looking for. Sadly, many soon-to-be college graduates often put their oral health low on their priority list while shuffling between classes and work, friends and dating. The emotional and physical demands of the college years cause many students to neglect and even abandon oral hygiene until an emergency arises. These habits often lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and sometimes, severe mouth disorders such as trench mouth, a bacterial infection that causes pain, inflammation, and ulcers in the gums marked by foul breath and a foul taste in the mouth. Bruxism, the wearing away of the enamel due to clenching and grinding of teeth also occurs during periods of increased stress often during exams and finals.

To make matters worse, US News & World Report also reported that some 34 percent of college grads are uninsured during the 12 months following their graduation. One lesson that is quickly learned by new graduates seeking a job is that you never get a second chance to make a great first impression. A healthy smile also reflects care in one's personal health and grooming - the mark of a sound personal lifestyle that can be advantageous to a person's career during the long term. One who takes pride in oral care is also likely to be serious about whole body health and well-being. This type of person is less likely to be interrupted by illness at work or in business - a sure asset to any organization. Considering the vital importance of your smile during a job interview, here are some "smile enhancing" options to help insure that you take the right first step on your career ladder and keep going up from there:

1. Get a dental check-up and cleaning before your first interview. Sometimes a simple exam and dental prophylaxis (tooth polishing) can be all that's needed to spruce up your smile.

2. Consider teeth whitening. Four college years of abuse from coffee, tea, and cigarettes can turn your "pearly whites" into a dull shade of yellow or brown. These intrinsic stains often cannot be removed by a dental cleaning and need a professional teeth whitening treatment. I recommend the professionally supervised in-office whitening procedure because many home systems are less effective and more prone to misuse.

3. For crooked or crowded teeth with overbites and underbites, orthodontics (braces) is effective. Invisalign therapy (a series of clear removable retainers) that is an alternative to fixed (cemented) orthodontic appliances can also be an excellent choice.

4. Some crooked, chipped, or misshapen teeth can be corrected with minor tooth bonding using a tooth colored composite resin. More severe defective enamel or antibiotic staining is better treated with porcelain laminate veneers, a more permanent choice for a dazzling smile, but may also a more significant financial investment.

Remember: Employers or prospective clients typically spend less than an hour to size you up in an interview. They will spend a good deal of the time looking at your face more than anything else - getting an initial impression, and also looking for a clue to your lifestyle and habits. So don't underestimate the power of the smile - it may start with the eyes, but it ends with those pearly whites!

Dr. Gerry Curatola is a renowned aesthetic dentist and pioneer in the emerging field of rejuvenation dentistry, which improves patients' overall health and appearance by integrating total wellness with cutting edge oral care and restorative procedures. In addition to his private practice, research, and work as a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU College of Dentistry, he is an internationally sought after speaker, author and expert who has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. For more information, go to