“Why Didn’t You Smile in Your Wedding Photos?”

When I was in seventh grade, a young girl that I had a crush on for many months told me one day “You’re really cute….except when you smile.” I had never considered that before. I spent the rest of my life cracking only a half smile, careful not to reveal too much. It caused some people to think I was arrogantly self-consumed, or too cool to laugh at their jokes or to smile when taking a picture. It caused a lot of people to assume things about me that simply weren’t true. I wanted to laugh and have a full smile; I was just always on guard not to make that “ugly” face. Even in my own wedding pictures, I have a slight smile, my wife always said “Come on. Smile! Show your teeth.”

My teeth were severely mottled and discolored presumably from antibiotics or fluoride, I’ve even heard from having braces. I wore braces for many years, but never did as I was supposed to, so the end result had my front teeth angled in with the ones next to them angled out. This all contributed to not a horrendous, hideous smile, but one I certainly was not comfortable sharing, even with my wife.

Luckily for me, I had a chance to make my smile better when I met Dr. Amanda Sindledecker. However, it would not be easy for me to sit down in her chair. Besides being smile-phobic, I’ve also grown up with an innate fear of needles. This contributed to the overall poor condition of my teeth aesthetically, even when I had a great dentist.

My first visit with Amanda was an easy one. We were just talking about what could be done. However, about a week before my first visit, the anxiety started. This was a university, not a dental office, which was fine except for one thing…there’s no gas available to settle me down. I’m now in a zone of high anxiety, sometimes to the point of nausea. However, I found very quickly that Dr. Amanda Sindledecker had something very few people have: True compassion. She totally understood my fear. There wasn’t a whole lot of “Come on! It’s just a needle! It doesn’t hurt,” which, while true, serves no purpose in comforting me. She did a fantastic job not only with the cleaning and subsequent injections, which really didn’t hurt, but also with comforting and relaxing her patient. Knowing that she understood my fear helped relax me, and I actually made it through all of the procedures without gas. By the end, I really didn’t even think of my anxiety, even when the needles came out. So in a sense, by understanding me, she has actually helped me move past my anxiety and realize that it is just a needle and it doesn’t hurt.

My expectations with regard to the results of dental veneers were reasonable, although not really high. By the time I got my first temporary set, I knew that this was going to be a big change for me. They were so natural that even upon close inspection you would never know they aren’t mine. They don’t have that perfectly ridiculous look of dentures or dental bridges. They are natural. The work that Dr. Amanda Sindledecker did has changed the way I smile. I feel great about smiling. I now look forward to a joke or an opportunity to meet someone. When we did the initial consultation, we decided on the first eight upper teeth because I didn’t show anymore than that in a full smile. For some reason now, it seems when I smile, you can see all the way back to my very last teeth!

I may not be the best looking guy, maybe I’m still ugly when I smile, but it’s not because of my teeth, I’’m proud of my teeth now. I’m happy to laugh at jokes and I can’t wait to see what my smile looks like in a picture now. In fact, we may have to re-shoot some of our wedding photos so people don’t ask, “You have such a great smile, why didn’t you smile in your wedding photos?”

This year my wife and I are planning on our first child. Luckily, we live in the same town as Dr. Sindledecker. We may not have decided on a pediatrician, but we have no doubt decided about who our family dentist will be.

- Brandt

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