Everyone has seen the power of a great smile. A child's smile can make your day. A smile across a crowded room can be the start of something big.

This phenomenon extends to business, where a terrific smile can be your ticket to success. Studies have found a genuine smile can help land you a job, close a sale, and motivate others to perform better.

Back in 1920 researcher Edward Thorndike coined the phrase "halo effect" to describe the phenomenon of when people attribute one positive quality to you, they tend to attribute many more. The halo effect has been researched in many ways over the years, with much of the research focusing on physical attributes and how people perceived to have such attributes are believed to be smarter, more successful, happier and better spouses and parents.

And which attribute has been singled out as especially important in making these judgments? A beautiful smile.

Even the iconic motivational speaker and author Dale Carnegie pointed to this, saying "the expression one wears on one's face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one's back." For better or worse, people judge us on our overall attractiveness and a great smile is a critical element of that.

A great smile can even have a positive effect on your co-workers. Yale University professor Sigal Barsade, Ph.D., conducted a study in which she had volunteers divided into small groups and assigned each group specific tasks. Unbeknownst to the group members, one of the team members was instructed to act overtly positive.

Barsade tracked the emotions of each individual before and after the session. When the "positive," smiling volunteer entered the room, his mood was picked up by the rest of the group almost instantly. Beyond just improving the mood of the group, the performance of each individual improved as did the group's ability to achieve its goal.

Elements of a Great Smile

What makes a great smile? First and foremost, it is genuine and not forced. There's no mistaking a broad, deep and real smile. In addition, research shows that straight teeth amplify a smile in so many ways. A Kelton Global study found that people attach positive attributes like success, wealth, happiness, health, and intelligence to those with straight teeth.

In today's competitive business world, giving yourself every advantage is a good idea. The confidence that comes with a great smile gives people an enormously positive impression of you.

These were just a few of the findings of a recent study, Impact of orthodontic treatment on self-esteem and quality of life of adult patients requiring oral rehabilitation.

Following adult orthodontic treatment both self-esteem and self-confidence leaped dramatically. The study concluded:

"Since the perception of facial appearance can affect health, social behavior, and happiness of the individual, it is safe to say that people with well-balanced smiles are considered more intelligent and have a greater chance of being employed."

In a recent study of individuals who had gotten orthodontic treatment as adults conducted for the American Academy of Orthodontics by Impulse Research Corp., 75 percent surveyed reported improvements in both their careers and personal relationships and attributed this to the improved post-orthodontic treatment smile. Reflecting their newfound self-confidence, 92 percent of survey respondents said they would recommend orthodontic treatment to other adults.

One reservation many adults have, though, when considering orthodontic treatment is their appearance during the treatment. While traditional metal braces may create a look that is less than professional (or even adolescent), innovations like Invisalign clear aligners allow people to go through the process of improving their smiles with hardly any outward signs of treatment being done.

In terms of convenience, Invisalign treatment can now reduce the time it takes to straighten teeth up to 50 percent faster with the introduction of one week wear aligners. Beyond convenience, when you choose Invisalign aligners, you get the confidence of working with a trained orthodontist or dentist who can track your progress and make adjustments as needed along the way.

What it comes down to is that so long as people are going to judge you on your appearance, especially your smile, why not take action to have the best possible smile you can? With new treatment options that offer better fit and comfort, as well as reduced time commitment, looking your best is easier than ever, and the "halo effects" may have you smiling all the way to the bank!