I saw this sign when I was riding the NYC subway a few years back. It’s always stuck with me because it’s an advertisement that tells it like it is. There’s no sugar coating. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes: “WARNING: CROOKED TEETH CAN HOLD YOU BACK. A better smile may mean a better job, better relationships, and a better life all around.” Truly I see this on a daily basis. What’s the first thing you look at when you meet someone for the first time? What’s the first thing you look at when you see yourself in pictures? The mirror?

Let’s expand our discussion to include not just crooked teeth, but stained teeth, missing teeth, holes in our teeth, gaps in our teeth, bleeding gums, even your breath. If you don’t feel good about your smile- they way it looks and the way it feels- it will affect every part of your life: your physical health, and your mental and emotional health. You may not smile because you’re concerned about people judging you, or you don’t like the way you look. And in turn, this affects your confidence, the way you carry yourself, and ultimately how you feel about yourself. You may not be motivated to apply for that position you’ve been wanting, or you’re scared to reach out to that really cute guy or girl because what if they reject you?

You’re better than that. You have one life and one body to take care of. Make the choice to straighten your teeth, have them cleaned, have them whitened, get them healthy. Your teeth are a great place to start because you can see immediate results, which is always gratifying and motivates you to continue to make other positive decisions. Healthy body, healthy mind. Whatever you want, it’s yours for the taking.