Let me ask you a question.
How do you feel about your appearance? More specifically how do you feel about your smile? What emotions do you experience when you think about your teeth? Are you shy? Are you embarrassed? Has the appearance of your teeth kept you sidelined? Do you show your smile showing your true joy and exhilaration or do you just grin avoiding photos and videos at all costs?
If I have peeked your interest on this topic… You are not alone!
Hello my name is Dr. David Gianino, I’m a family and cosmetic dentist in Lunenburg, Ma. I decided at the age of 12 I was going to be a dentist!!!! And I can relate to all of the scenarios I just mentioned.
Around the age of 7 I can remember kids my age making fun of me. They would say “You have rotten teeth.” I would ignore them but as I got older the joking became more frequent. They would actually tell me that they do not play with kids with rotten teeth. As you can imagine it was a very traumatic time. To top it all off I had crooked teeth. I was one good looking kid!!!!!
I knew I did not have “rotten teeth” but I was also aware of how different my teeth looked from everyone else. I had different shade of grey running across my teeth like zebra stripes.
One day, when I was at the dentist I got the courage to ask why my teeth were so different from other kids. Did I have rotten teeth? As you can imagine, by now my confidence and being out going was pretty much gone. My dentist looked at me with such sad eyes and then quickly explained my problem.
“You see David, when you were a young child you probably had a lot of ear infections (I did). Your Dr prescribed medicine for you called Tetracycline. This medicine is similar to calcium and while your adult teeth were forming the Tetracycline was picked up by your body and used to make your teeth. This caused a discoloration of your teeth. So, no your teeth are not rotten.
I finally had an answer!
Now I knew why my teeth looked different! Now I was prepared with an answer when I was teased. “No, I do not have rotten teeth!!! The problem was each time I began to give my well-rehearsed answer to my teeth, the kids had left before I could finish. They didn’t care, all they knew was I was different.
My Dad took me to the orthodontist to have my crooked teeth fixed. Back then in the 70’s ortho bands went all the way around the teeth. “Wait you mean this is going to hide my ugly teeth?”
Then a strange thing happened. Kids I had known or just met accepted me with braces. I was invited to play catch and accepted without cruel remarks. What an AWESOME transformation I LOVED going to the orthodontist!!!
I NEVER wanted these things to come off! But they did a short 1 ½ years later all of the braces came off. I can still remember what I was wearing. I had my mother take a picture of me with my red German Shepherd Golda. What an awesome feeling, what a wonderful result.
Then it happened; I returned to school that Monday with big smiles. I must have been in the 6th grade by this time. The stares, sarcastic remarks and ridicule all came back. It hit me like a ton of bricks, in the morning I was smiling big feeling happy and confident. But by lunch I had stopped smiling.
All those feelings and memories from the cruel remarks were back. What happened? Why are they making fun of me again? Needless to say, these remarks had a profound effect on my self-esteem and socialization.
I always seemed to struggle at that age to meet friends that did not judge me. They were few and far between.
I can actually remember reading the side of the box of my dog’s dog biscuits and reading “whitens teeth” so I took a bite. Tasted awful and I spit it out. Inside my head I was thinking there has to be an answer, there has to be a solution, my teeth are ruining my life.
So, the next time I was at Dr. Broderick’s office, I remember asking him “So how do you fix Tetracycline staining?” I was so proud of myself for finding the courage to ask the question. Again, the dentist looked at me with those sad eyes and said “Dave, there are some new techniques that use bleach and heat, but nothing that is available yet for our patient’s” I was crushed.
I was thinking, you mean I have to live like this forever?
It was about this time in my life that something changed. There was a fire deep in my belly that got ignited. It was this tremendous awareness that I had to do something about this. I couldn’t be the only one with this problem. I couldn’t be the only one so terribly sad that I would cry myself to sleep at night.
All I wanted to be was like the other kids that could laugh, play and enjoy the moments without the ridicule. I never gave it a second thought. I never even considered a different career. I knew I had to change this.
Well here’s the thing, I became inherently aware of not only myself, but others and how the mouth, the teeth, the smile connects to happiness and self-esteem. It shouldn’t, but it does.
Let me give a couple of examples:
Cancer of the Jaw
Several years later my Grandfather was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw (squamous cell carcinoma). He use to love to sing love songs to my Grandmother in Italian and was quite a story teller. Once he was diagnosed, he did not do anything about it.
He was a stubborn old Italian (I might have some of that in me). He kept going to different dentists and eventually found one that said he should be ok and he went with that Dentists recommendation of doing nothing.
Because of following that recommendation, he had to have half of is jaw removed and that side of his face became sunken in. He could barley talk and it was painful to watch him try to eat. He became a shadow of who he once was and I never remember him singing Italian love songs again.
In April of 1987 my father took my younger brother Jim and myself on a road trip. We were going to South Carolina. Sounded like fun right? Here’s what I did not know, the purpose of the trip was to take my mother to a denture factory where they removed all of your remaining teeth and made you dentures in 24-48 hours.
My mother was so miserable, the pain and bleeding she went through it was awful to watch. I think she slept the entire drive back home to Massachusetts. She endured a lot of pain for a long time after this experience.
I saw the effect this had not only on my mom but on my parent’s relationship. At the time, I did not completely understand why my parents did this. Years later I found out it was to save money. The way my mom spoke and ate changed so much, it was sad to see this happen to my mom.
Getting Back to Me
I actually was able to let the excitement of someday becoming a dentist help to absorb some of the harsh words I was hearing. Thankfully, as I got older, the comments eventually stopped, but it was too late the damage was already done.
Once in dental school, I finally had the answers and solutions to my dark teeth. Fortunately, I was able to get a very nice results with modern professional tooth whitening.
I was no longer so ashamed of my appearance and I could laugh and smile with confidence!
How I Can Help You
I have been in private practice for over 28 years and the stories keep coming. The number of people I have spoken to that have shared a similar experience to me or may have been different from mine but it does not matter the story. They were or are still being affected. They don’t smile for pictures or openly laugh without covering their mouth. Deep down inside they are prisoners hoping to be set free.
I developed the term “Emotional Dentistry” years ago because of the profound emotional effect that our teeth and smile can have on our self-esteem, our self-confidence, our identity.
The barrier this creates that keeps us from reaching out our hand as a friendly gesture. What potential lost opportunities of meeting friends or possibly a future spouse. How can you call this “Cosmetic or Aesthetic Dentistry” when it pulls on the core of your existence?
This single topic has driven me to be the best listener I can be. People don’t want to share these stories, to keep ripping the band aid off. But having a condition or situation that for even a moment causes you to think twice about your teeth can truly influence our decisions and paths in life.
We need to put our attention out to help others (extroverts) and think less about ourselves (introverts). We think about ourselves and how we appear we can’t help it we are human, the memories and pictures come flying back into our minds and we hesitate.
Fortunately, I can help. I can relate from my own first-hand experiences with the same emotions you may be feeling.
Together, along with my team, we can identify the problems and the way it affects you and enlighten you on what is possible!
I can help to paint pictures in your mind and on your photos about what is possible.
Today the possibilities are endless. The technology can help to show what is possible to address any problem you may be having. Together we can design and engineer a dental plan that helps you to look and feel the way you have always wanted.
Whether it is the color, shape or position of your teeth, I can help. If you are missing teeth and suffering from embarrassment. Or you are not able to chew, I can help.
So, if this story has moved you to act. Reach out to us right now and let the healing begin!
Thanks for reading.