Yesterday I heard something from a patient that will stick with me for a long time, maybe for the rest of my life. Rewind a few weeks. A young man who had spent several years in military service came to our office interested in improving his overall oral health and more specifically that he wanted to address some old stained bonding on his front teeth. This had been bothering him for a long time. He wanted them to look whiter and more natural than the worn out look his front teeth held when we first met. We discussed options and removing the old bonding and replacing them with porcelain dental veneers is what we decided to do.
Are the permanent ones going to look like this? I haven’t smiled in three years. I’m going to have to learn how to smile!
Once all the preliminary diagnostic work was completed. This man came in yesterday morning for his dental veneer preparation appointment. Everything went routinely and successfully with no complications. We showed him the temporaries he would be wearing for a couple of weeks while the permanent teeth were custom made and characterized to fit on his teeth. When he saw the temporary teeth, he smiled, said he loved them and scheduled his follow up appointment for seating the permanent veneers.
I finished the rest of my patients for the day and, as I typically do, made my post-op calls on my way home from work. This is when I get a chance to call some of the patients from the day and check on them to ensure they are doing ok and to answer any questions they may have regarding the care they received. When I called the young man from earlier in the day, I asked him if he liked the look of his temporaries. He said, “Are the permanent ones going to look like this? Because I LOVE them!” We chatted a little more and I was about to say goodbye when he said, “I don’t think you understand. I haven’t smiled in three years. I haven’t really smiled in 3 years. I’m going to have to learn how to smile.” Hasn’t really smiled in three years, I thought. Wow.
Porcelain veneers are not for everyone. But they are for some people. And given the right circumstance, they can change the way someone feels about themselves. They can take someone who was not smiling and unleash something inside of that person they have never had, or have not had in a very long time.
Smiling seems like such a basic thing and not smiling a real smile for three years is crazy and all I’ve been thinking about today. I’m so glad I am part of this patient’s story and so many other patients’ stories where we provide similar care. And we haven’t even seated his permanent dental veneers yet…