The Power of a SmileStory by our Associate Doctor, Eugene Liu
One of my most memorable patients that I have ever met was Allison from when I was doing my externship in Pennsylvania. Allison was 26 years old, unemployed and a mother of two. She came to the dental clinic one day because her front teeth were black with decay. Growing up, she was never stressed the importance of keeping her teeth clean and didn’t understand why her teeth were turning the way they were. Because of the appearance of her teeth, she hadn’t smiled in years and told us that she refrained from going outside to limit any interactions with people because she didn’t want anyone to see her teeth and judge her. She did her grocery shopping in the dead of night just to avoid talking to anyone. Over the course of years as her teeth kept deteriorating, she fell into a severe case of depression and was placed on medications for it. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she finally came to the clinic for help. It took so much courage for Allison to walk through the clinic door and I remember feeling proud of her for not running out the door before we had a chance to help her.
Long story short, we were able to restore her smile after a few weeks of work. We taught her how to take care of her teeth so that she could maintain them long term but also to pass off the skills to her kids. While it was rewarding to be able to save her teeth and give her the smile she wanted, it was much more rewarding to see her confidence and self-esteem blossom. She regained control of her life and the last time I checked, Allison had stopped taking her medications for depression and now works as a hygienist in Philadelphia helping others maintain their smiles.
(Photos of a SFD patient)
The power of a smile is often the most overlooked quality in the human species. We don’t truly appreciate this ability until it is taken away or affected in some way. A genuine smile doesn’t only brighten a room up, but it has also been proven that smiling improves our mental and physical health. Smiling releases endorphins and these hormones help you feel good while decreasing levels of stress hormones known as cortisol. This is just a single example of how a smile can affect someone. From young children to the elderly, a smile is one of the most rudimentary methods of conveying happiness. Helping someone restore their smile is one of the most rewarding experiences this profession provides, and it is part of why I love what I do.
Many factors go into determining what needs to be done in terms of treatment for a smile. Expectations and different treatment modalities that can be done is discussed alongside with the shade of the teeth, shape and size. Ultimately, our goal is to have you confident about your smile. We want you to be able to strut down the road with a wide smile and feeling like you are on top of the world. The psychological and physical benefits of an improved smile will not only improve your quality of life, but it will also help you strut through life with a confident smile on your face.