beautiful_smile_african_american_2I’ll never forget Paula, ( not her real name). She was an average-looking woman in her late 30s when she visited my practice for the first time.

“How long has it been since you’re had your teeth cleaned and checked?” my hygienist asked her.

“Years,” she confessed, barely making eye contact and speaking through tightly compressed lips. “I’m a single mom, funds are limited, and my kids come first.”

She looked the hygienist in the eye for the first time, and a hint of a smile lifted the corners of her lips. “I just changed jobs, and now I have dental insurance. I want to get my teeth fixed.” 

As we examined Paula’s mouth, the first thing we noticed was that her two front teeth were decayed. No wonder she wasn’t smiling! In fact, she was so self-conscious of the way her teeth looked that she kept her head down and barely opened her mouth when she spoke. 

The hygienist took diagnostic x-rays, assessed the health of her gums, and scaled and polished her teeth. Then we drew up a treatment plan to fix the decay in her mouth. Our first priority was to remove the decay and place tooth-colored fillings in Paula’s front teeth.

After less than an hour, the dark, unsightly decay was gone. In its place were two beautifully restored front teeth. When we handed Paula a mirror, her face brightened with the biggest, most beautiful smile we’d seen all day. She smiled all the way to the front desk, out the door, and into the parking lot. Through the window, we watched her smile again into her car’s rear view mirror. I suspect she smiled all the way home.

Six years later, Paula is still smiling. Her eyes are bright, her step is light, and she’s not afraid to interact with people. Since that first day in our office, she’s gotten a promotion, seen both her daughters graduate, and got married to another one of our patients ( we weren’t responsible for the engagement) . He too has a beautiful smile, and oftentimes they’ll come to their checkup appointments together.

If you, like Paula, are embarrassed by decayed or unsightly teeth, don’t discount the power of cosmetic dentistry. It could change  your life.

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