|So Much More Than a Smile: Cedric’s Story|
|Written by Dr. Kelvin Mah|
I can say with absolute certainty that one of the best perks of my job (and there are many!) is that I get to meet so many people from different walks of life. It brings me so much joy to hear the stories that everyone brings to my dental chair. I think it’s because I’m constantly meeting and interacting with people at my practice, but I truly believe that everyone is exceptionally unique. I love connecting with my patients on not only a work related level, but also on a personal level.
When I first met Cedric a little while ago, I knew we’d have a great connection. Cedric works with Delta Airlines as a customer service representative at the airport, so he’s got a great personality. As we got to talking in our consultation, he started to tell me about his job and his personal life, and then we got down to his smile. As he put it, “I’m meeting new people and talking all day, I have a very interactive job that requires a smile at all times.”
The thing is, Cedric didn’t have any noticeable issues with his teeth; he just had some minor concerns and felt that something was missing from his smile. I remember it so clearly because he was trying to explain to me that he wanted some dental work don;, he just didn’t know what he needed or how to go about getting it. It was more of a feeling that his smile needed to be improved and he wanted it done. He definitely understood the importance of a smile.
As a customer service representative, Cedric obviously has to be on his game at all times, with a smile. I listened to his concerns and was able to pinpoint what needed to be done to his smile to give him more confidence. We both decided that he needed a little tweak to his smile, knowing that it would highlight and greatly improve his confidence level and self-perception. It was a natural life choice that would make sense for his career and everyday life.
We decided to take a closer look in the dental chair and Cedric was amazed at the condition of his teeth when I showed him the images I had captured. It wasn’t anything horrible, not at all, just an eye-opener that demonstrated how neglected his teeth were. “I saw that there were some problems in the back of my mouth and that they needed to be fixed,” he said. We laid out a plan of improvement and scheduled some future appointments so that we could make his smile dreams a reality. The funny thing is, both Cedric and I never thought of his treatment plan as “cosmetic” or “clinical,” but as a “wellbeing improvement.” His job and his personal life were healthy and thriving, so we wanted his smile to match and connect with that. Wellness really is so much more than clinical health, it’s an overall emotional improvement and can greatly affect your life.
We whitened his smile (what a difference that alone made), removed his failing silver mercury fillings and replaced them with natural-coloured fillings. These included advanced ceramic fillings that are extremely durable. I really wanted to focus on long-term solutions for Cedric’s smile, and not provide a “quick-fix” like so many people are now used to. My approach is to make people happy with their results and confident with those results for a very long time.
Looking back, we actually did very little “cosmetic” work. However, after his treatment was finished, you could tell that Cedric looked different. Not because of my dental work (ok, that had a little bit to do with it!), but because we addressed the changes he wanted to make and they affected his confidence level and overall wellness. He told me afterward, “I noticed a huge improvement in my personal and professional life. I felt better interacting with my clients on a daily basis because I was more confident in myself as a reflection of my smile.” He truly was radiating from within, and his renewed smile just added to his new persona.
It’s funny how your oral health can be connected to your personal and mental health. My patients are always surprised by their renewed sense of self after having certain procedures completed that address issues that have been bothering them. Whether it’s that they weren’t confident because of their teeth or they were looking for a new job and were self-conscious of their smiles, the stories have been endless, but the results have always been positive. The biological connection between "oral health" and "overall health" has been established in clinical literature, but it's a bit abstract. In Cedric's case, taking his oral health to the next level not only made him look better, but he felt a very real impact on his overall vitality as well as his sense of how others perceived him. Our inward appearance truly does reflect our outward personality.
Having Cedric as a patient really helped me re-connect with why I approach dentistry the way that I do. I truly believe that establishing a relationship with my patients is key to providing the best dental services that I can. It’s really not about “what do you want” and “how do you want me to do it,” it’s all about the reasons why. When I can get an honest answer from my patients, I feel connected to them on a whole level, not just on a dental level. I really focus on the solutions they need to improve whatever it is they’re looking for. I believe that the impact of dentistry can be transformative and enrich a patient’s life.
“I had a wonderful experience with Dr Kelvin Mah. He was very professional and knows how to treat his patients with kindness and understanding. He asks about you as a person, not as a patient, and helps you address the solutions you’re looking for. Thanks, Dr Mah!”