As any independent contractor knows, proper budgeting can make the difference between running a successful business or having to close down shop. Often, insurance is one of the most tempting line items to slash when trying to make ends meet. After all, dropping that dental insurance may leave you putting up with — rather than treating — that toothache, but it won’t really impact your overall operation…right?

Well, it turns out that thinking may be backward. In fact, a strong, healthy smile communicates a lot about you as a business owner. Don’t believe us? Check out these eight ways your smile can affect your career!

  1. Smiles boost self-esteem. When you look in the mirror and see cavity-filled teeth, it can be hard to muster the confidence to meet with a new client. But when you can admire your (pain-free) chompers, it’s tough not to smile back at yourself. And that instant esteem boost is crucial for freelancers: confident individuals understand their value; they communicate effectively and present themselves with pride, helping them gain clients’ attention and, ultimately, boosting income levels. An added bonus: self-confidence inspires client confidence, which means fewer questions or complaints about the cost and value of the product or services you provide. What freelancer wouldn’t welcome that outcome?
  2. Smiles build connections. You know that expression, “Just turn that frown upside down?” There’s a reason it’s so popular: the simple act of smiling can make you — and the people around you — feel happier and more connected. Sharing a smile, laugh, or joke is a great way to bond with potential new clients. It’s the perfect opportunity to show long-time customers how much you appreciate their business. With that being said, it’s important to keep your smile strong and healthy with regular dental visits. Investing in a dental insurance plan can keep those visits from becoming cost-prohibitive.
  3. Strong smiles score clients. This may sound crazy, but it’s actually true. According to a digital perception study conducted on behalf of Invisalign, Americans polled believed that individuals with straight teeth are 45% more likely to land a job or client than a candidate with equivalent qualifications, but teeth that appear more crooked. In an ever-more competitive freelance market, can you afford not to invest in a product that could majorly boosts your competitive edge?
  4. Smiles earn trust. While we’d like to believe that our work and ethics inspire client confidence, people are actually less logical than that. In that same Invisalign study, researchers discovered that participants were 73% more likely to trust someone with a nice smile. And since trust is crucial to freelancer-client relationships, using dental insurance to pay for smile-boosting services like teeth whitening (or even just regular cleanings) seems like a no-brainer.
  5. Healthy smiles save time (and money). Sure, it seems like no big deal if you push off your annual dental checkups now. You’re busy, and you need to cut costs. But here’s the thing: spending a little bit of time and money on preventative dental care now can prevent the necessity for costly, time-consuming procedures down the road. And since, as independent contractors, we can’t make money if we’re not working, investing in preventative dental care is, ultimately, the same thing as investing in your business.
  6. The health of your smile reflects your overall health. Did you know that disease in your mouth, teeth and gums can pave the way to more serious complications? In fact, gum disease alone has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and premature deliveries — all of which could keep you away from work for extended periods of time. Yet, simply by brushing, flossing, and going for regular dental checkups, you can help keep these problems at bay. And if you have dental insurance, the cost of those checkups will be less than you likely spend on your weekly coffee runs.

Now we know what a strong smile can deliver, let’s explore what less-than-optimal smiles do to our careers….

  1. Unhealthy smiles cut connections. According to a survey conducted by Listerine, 76% of Americans consider bad breath to be a “deal breaker” in new relationships — both personal and professional. Any number of preventable oral health issues can leave you with bad breath, so it’s wise to invest in dental care before odor and disease leave you losing clients.
  2. Unhealthy smiles keep you quiet. As a freelancer, you need to speak up to land new contracts. But, in that same Listerine survey, 61% of participants said an unhealthy smile would impact their ability to lead a meeting; 64% admitted that they wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting led by others if their teeth were bad. Those are scary statistics for individuals whose income depends on their ability to self-promote.

The numbers don’t lie. Investing in a healthy smile can leave you confident, connected, and ready to lead a strong, thriving business. Weak or unhealthy smiles can cause you and others to lose confidence in your abilities. Thankfully, investing in your smile doesn’t have to be a major expense. At the Freelancers Union, we have affordable monthly plans that will save you an average of 35% off your annual dental expenses. Start shopping plans here, or reach out with any questions to membership@freelancersunion.org