Why not shine?

by Oriana Biela, Registered Dental Hygienist

Spring is here! I always look forward to the sight of butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering around. Butterflies are fascinating because of the dramatic physical changes they undergo. Their transformation isn’t visible to most, but when it is complete – watch out world! Flitting around, performing dramatic dives, gently flaunting their colors and wings, they tease us with glimpses of their beauty, as if they revel in the adoration of those who take the time to admire them. Transformation can be defined as change in form, appearance, nature, or character. To watch someone go through a transformation can be both scary and inspiring … sometimes both.

Dr. Lieu's wife, Oriana, shares her "before" and "after" smile goals!
Dr. Lieu’s wife, Oriana, shares her “caterpillar/before” and “butterfly/after” smile goals.

We see transformations every day here in our office. Whenever Dr. Lieu, Shelli or I meet a new friend in the office, we always ask what their goal is with their teeth. Sometimes people look at me funny when they’re asked this question. Sometimes it throws people off track because they never thought about having a dental goal. Why not? Many of us set goals in other aspects of our lives. A dental goal can be as simple as staying out of pain. Another goal can be to fix the look of that one tooth that has always bothered you. One goal I hear often is that people want straight, white teeth.

Sometimes people say, “I wish I could have teeth like yours!” and I must say that I am a self-proclaimed caterpillar turned butterfly. As flattering as that may sound, I am very honest in explaining that I was once very buck-toothed and awkward. When I was little, I loved my pacifier and had it until I was three years old. When my adult teeth came in, the front and some of my top molars were all sticking out about 45 degrees. Thank goodness my parents got me braces … I wouldn’t have been able to chew or get a date if they didn’t intervene with some dental help! Four years later my teeth were straight, but I will never forget uncomfortable it was to have those brackets and wires poking me all the time. Back then, my situation was likely too advanced for a solution such as Invisalign, but it would have been great to at least have had that as an option.

Invisalign, in simple terms, is clear braces. They are not brackets, but clear trays that do not interfere with your ability to talk. Most of the time, they are “invisible” to others. Invisalign is a great option because, for example, it can perform minor movement such as correcting teeth that have moved years after someone may have stopped using his or her retainer. Invisalign can move more rotated or flared teeth in less time than was possible in the past. A simple Invisalign case will take about three months. The average Invisalign case takes about 12 to 18 months to complete. For adults, it is a great way to help improve teeth alignment so that they can be cleaned better, which improves gum health.

Recently, an old high school friend walked through the door of our office, visibly excited to get started with her braces and dental treatment. This friend always had crooked teeth and shared that she had only been to the dentist two times in her 30-some years of life. For her, this is a life-changing event. She will be so thrilled to have that straight, white smile she always dreamed of. We are all excited for her and looking forward to helping her through her dental “journey” to reach her goal. I find her inspiring.

Sometimes people know what they want and will stop at nothing to get there. Others will see and know what they want, but limit themselves from getting there. We are all guilty of listening to that little voice in our heads that says, “You’re not good enough!” or “Why do you think you deserve that?” or  “You’re too ___ for ___!” In addition to that, we also make up reasons why.  “It’s too ___.” or “I don’t need it.” or “I’ve been fine with it this way for so long, why change it now?”

To that I say, why not shine? Why live your life as a caterpillar and never find your wings and fly? There is nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself and your smile.

Creating great smiles is what we do every day. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE seeing someone get their new smile. It’s life-changing. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes there is quiet amazement. But the end result is always the same: New hairdo, new clothes, new outlook on life and smiles from ear to ear.

Simply beautiful.