Give Us a Smile!

Some girls relax in the chair.

Estimates show that 75% of Americans have at least some fear of going to the dentist. Sometimes it’s about pain (root canal, anyone?). Sometimes it’s about guilt (so, you only flossed once last year). Sometimes it’s about unending waiting rooms with piles of out-of-date magazines. For our girls—mostly first time dentist-goers—the fears are much the same. Except for the waiting room (they like to watch the television).

When we get to the office, only one girl at a time gets in the chair—with a staff member watching from the sidelines—while the others sit in the waiting room with another staff member and… the television.

Of course, there are special problems that arise when you’ve never been to the dentist or learned proper dental care. We’ve tried to fill in the gaps with lessons on flossing and bushing and using mouthwash, but only so much is possible. No amount of flossing can fix a crack or a cleft palate or give a girl back all the molars she has lost, as much as we wish it would.

Some girls are a little more nervous.

One of our girls had very broken front teeth and abscesses that made eating, talking, and smiling difficult. Root canals came first (to relieve the pain of the abscesses) and then the dentist ground down the broken teeth so they would be ready for caps. After that was a few days of almost no teeth while we were waiting for the caps to be made and when they were ready, that girl was more than ready to get back in the chair.

Once she got the new teeth, however, she didn’t like them. Rabbit teeth, Ma’am. No, we told her, they’re just bigger than what you had before. We pointed out those of us who had fake teeth—even fake front teeth—and told her she fit right in.

But, Ma’am. Rabbit teeth.

A few weeks later, her apples are all in slices and her molars are getting more use, but she can’t hide that beautiful new smile and we’re so glad we could put it there.