Seeing the best in life's challenges

Perfect Teeth

on November 29, 2011

Today is the beginning of Part 2 of Orthodontics.

Part 1 started a few years ago when I took my oldest to the practice my dentist recommended.  The introductory visit started with a 10 or 15-minute video, which shared the stories of many of the people whose lives had been changed by getting their teeth perfect.  We listened to the woeful stories of those whose smiles were previously inadequate, whose lives were less than what they could be….and how these people were saved by braces.  Now they could live life to the fullest and feel good about themselves.  Ok, I understand the whole marketing thing, but it still made me uncomfortable.

Next, an exceedingly sweet woman interviewed my oldest.  He was anxious to correct his overbite, as he had not enjoyed being called “Bugs Bunny” by the eighth grade son of his middle school principal.  (Yeah, that’s another story, and was a great learning experience as well as a tough period of time.)

Since my daughter was there, too, they decided to have a look at her next.  The woman sweetly asked something like, “how do you feel about your smile?”  to which my daughter replied something like, “fine.”  THEN, the woman said something that started off, “No, really….”


Which is why we are going elsewhere for her braces.  And, believe me, I realize we may have a similar experience.

Look, they did a beautiful job on my son’s teeth.  It’s not that.  And I realize I am swimming upstream here.

But I don’t buy into the idea that we have to appear perfect to feel good about ourselves or to be a success in life.  Because the truth is, we will never appear perfect.  Human beings just aren’t made that way.  And I certainly don’t want to teach my kids that they aren’t perfect just the way they are.

I have no problem with wanting to have straight teeth.  It’s nice enough, but it doesn’t define a person.  I have some really wonderful, great friends that have crooked teeth.  Does that make them less valuable as friends?  Does it make them less competent at what they do?

To me, this is an example of an assumption, buying into a cultural norm, that is really motivated by making money, by marketing.  Orthodontists provide a valuable service, but when do we go too far?

I think we go too far when we start encouraging people to fear that they are inadequate, in order to promote a business.

What do you think?

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