Because Nobody Should Be Afraid To Smile

Caryn teared up as she sat in my office and told me about all the blessings in her life. She had a beautiful family, a devoted husband, a wonderful daughter; she was healthy and had interests and hobbies that she approached with passion. But the tears weren’t tears of joy; they were tears of desperation and sadness about a burden which she privately faced every day. In spite of these blessings, she was afraid to smile about her life because she hated how her teeth looked.

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Caryn teared up as she sat in my office and told me about all the blessings in her life.  She had a beautiful family, a devoted husband, a wonderful daughter; she was healthy and had interests and hobbies that she approached with passion.  But the tears weren’t tears of joy; they were tears of desperation and sadness about a burden which she privately faced every day. In spite of these blessings, she was afraid to smile about her life because she hated how her teeth looked.

Perhaps some of you reading this have elements of your smile that you wish were different. First, let me level the playing field for you – I have had many patients over the years, some that you have seen in movies and magazines, and none of them started with the perfect smile. There is no such thing; we all start somewhere. Second, there is no cause for discouragement – what you may think is unfixable is likely very treatable.  Aesthetic dentistry has spent years developing and perfecting various ways to treat the hardest cases and there is more than one method to approach almost any problem.

As a prosthodontist, I have heard this story a thousand times. It varies by degree and the names and the circumstances are different, but the one thing all the patients I have helped over the years have in common, is that feeling of dread and embarrassment that if they expressed their joy in a smile, the world wouldn’t like what they see. I am here to tell you the following: no one should ever fear expressing their joy, happiness, humor, or compassion in the most basic and universally understood communicative expression. No one should ever hold back from reacting to the blessings their life has brought them in a natural way. No one should be afraid to smile!

Third – and this is where you and I need to have a heart to heart – getting aesthetic dental work to improve your smile isn’t an act of vanity. It’s an investment in yourself, your happiness and your longevity. Do you realize that the most precious thing that you can give another person is free and effortless?  A smile that says “I care,” “thank you,” “you’re funny,” “glad to see you” or even “you turn me on” is such a gift and it’s the way people have interacted for thousands of years. When you invest in your smile, think of it as an investment in your own longevity. By making your smile freely available to others with confidence, your joy will spread to them and the entire overtone of every interaction you have will be different, and better!

Now let’s be practical – I realize that aesthetic dentistry is not covered by many insurance plans and it’s a financial investment to be taken seriously. There are 2 issues I want you to consider. First, it’s worth it, and the benefits you get in confidence, happiness and people’s reactions will be worth it tenfold. Second, shop around. Not all dentists are the same.  Don’t go to the cheapest one, because like anything in life, you get what you pay for. One of the most economical options if you have time is to find the dental school nearest you and inquire with their aesthetic dentistry program. I work with several dental schools and I am the director of the aesthetic dentistry program at NYU, and we treat people all the time as part of our educational curriculum for a fraction of the cost they would incur in a routine office setting.

After Caryn and I spoke that first time and she dried her tears, we went to work. After a few office visits she had a beautiful smile, and her radiance and joy were overpowering.  As you will see on the show (Wednesday May 19, 2010) when she walked out with her new smile, she was a woman who was now expressing her joy with confidence, and totally deserved it. Caryn is very brave to share her journey with us, and I thank her for being an example. I am privileged to have been part of her transformation and thousands of others over the years. Now, I want you to think about taking that step.You are worth it!  

Blog written by Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
Dr. Jonathan B. Levine is a world-renowned dentist and prosthodontist recognized as an authority on restorative dentistry. He's...