when you’re smiling

Managing a dental practice is not thrilling work. Patients are great, but insurance companies suck. I enjoy my coworkers, but not the smell of the office. Today may be the first day I’m truly proud to work here.

There were a number of reasons my brother came to visit. He got let go in the fall and has been really frustrated with the job search. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, the stress level back home shot through the roof. I thought it might give my parents a break, to not have to deal with my brother. So, we planned a visit. A break from the craziness back home, a chance to see where I live. But, really, one of the things I wanted to do was get him some dental work.

He’s 26 now and hasn’t seen a dentist since my parents coverage stopped when he was 18. He needed braces and didn’t get them. He also had a penchant for Marlboros and Mountain Dew. He has good oral hygiene now, and paired that with giving up those two vices has helped, but not enough.

It’s rare to see him in a photo. He’s usually hiding, making that “photo face” he has. Never really smiling, never showing the teeth he’s so ashamed of.

Today, he had an appointment and got two of his front teeth worked on. We did a couple of others last week and some other stuff the week before that. Today, he exclaimed “holy shit!” and “wow” with a voice I haven’t heard in quite a while. His excitement was palpable.

I kinda wish I had a great set of photos, before and after. The smile was contagious. I don’t think I’ve seen him smile like that in years, and certainly not in front of strangers.

This is truly one of those cases where some work can change someone’s life. He is now more confident, ready to smile and shake someone’s hand at a job interview without wondering if they’re judging his teeth. He’s excited about showing his girlfriend and my mother the smile we’re working so hard to give him.

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