Could cosmetic dentistry help survivors heal from domestic abuse? Research shows that going to the dentist can vastly improve both physical health and self-perception. People who regularly visit the dentist are far more likely to find financial and romantic success, just a few of the endless benefits of a perfect smile.
But even south Florida dentist Dr. Steven Roth couldn’t have predicted the magical reaction his care would evoke from a recent patient.
Recovery from Domestic Abuse
Kariza Fernandes’ husband beat her beyond recognition. Sadly, he trapped her in a van and threw her out of the vehicle as he accelerated.
She woke up in the hospital and immediately got a sense of the damage she had sustained when she saw everyone staring at her. A look in the mirror revealed what Fernandes described as a “dead person walking.”
The violent abuse had completely destroyed the magnetic smile people associated with her. She was left with a broken jaw, broken nose and five missing teeth.
Fernandes’ jaw was wired shut throughout the next few months to prepare her for several surgeries that would repair her facial wounds. The next step was reconstructing her teeth. Fortunately, a friend of hers knew exactly who to call.
The Rewards of Making Someone Smile
“When I heard about Kariza’s case, I’m like, I would love to do it,” Dr. Roth told CBS Miami. “Dentistry is an interesting art,” Roth said. “When you have the reward of making somebody smile and making them feel good about themselves, there’s nothing better.”
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In a single operation, Dr. Roth resurrected this domestic abuse survivor’s smile. In fact, he was so successful, it appeared as though no visible traces of the attack remained.
When Dr. Roth showed Fernandes the results of the cosmetic procedure, she was so overcome with emotion that she could barely speak. Only tears of joy streamed down her face.
The Importance of a Healthy Smile
“It was the time that I valued the mirror the most in my life, when I saw my smile back,” she said.
Dr. Roth was moved by her reaction. After all, few patients look at him with such gratitude and joy during an appointment.
“As a dentist, we always hear, ‘I hate the dentist,’ or ‘I hate going to the dentist.’ It’s nice when someone comes out smiling and feeling better than when they came in.”
Dr. Roth’s stunning work is a reminder of how important a healthy smile is. A healthy smile can boost confidence and overall emotional state. The operation restored Fernandes’ self-esteem. It allowed her to see the bright future ahead.
“One smile, one tooth can change a person’s whole character, personality, feelings,” she said. “I looked at it as a rebirth. I was reborn again”
Helping Other Domestic Abuse Survivors
Fernandes’ transformation ultimately inspired her to go back to work as a fashion designer. Now, she donates a portion of sales from her clothing line to organizations that help victims of domestic abuse. According to CBS Miami, approximately 75% of domestic violence wounds effect the head, neck and mouth, so it’s safe to say Fernandes donations could very well help other victims bring back their smiles.
“If we all had Kariza’s charisma and her inspiration the world would be a better place,” said Dr. Roth. “And let’s make it that way. Let’s focus on the positive. Let’s bring people forward and help each other. The world would be a lot better.”
Fernandes is not the only victim of serious violence who has been transformed by Dr. Roth. A firm believer in charity work, he once donated a whole month of his services to reconstructing the smiles of war veterans.
Read Next: 5 Reasons Healthy Smiles Lead to Success
One of the most remarkable things documented in recent academic studies of smiles is that the bigger one’s smile, the longer one’s life will likely be. Wayne State University studied photos of Major League baseball players found on 1952 baseball cards and found a correlation between the players’ lifespans and their smiling.
Researchers have also documented that smiling leads to an improved mood. If you want to feel happier, paying attention to oral health and visiting the dentist on a regular basis is key. When you feel confident about your smile, you are going to be more willing to smile, and thus you will smile more often.
Smiling Improves Your Relationships
It should be no surprise that those who report feeling the most satisfied in their relationships are those who smile a great deal. Some research involving high school yearbooks has shown that those who smile in their yearbook photos tend to feel as if they have effective relationships and are able to connect with others well.
Researchers surveyed people in their current relationships and then compared their answers with their high school yearbook pictures from several decades ago. The result was that those who reported the most happiness in their relationships also had some of the biggest smiles in their high school photos.
The Smiling, Self-Confident You
People who smile a lot are perceived by others to have greater self-confidence, and self-confidence leads to many good things in life. A high level of self-confidence helps you meet new people, makes you more attractive to prospective employers and helps you recover more quickly after a loss.
If you take good care of your mouth, you will be proud of your healthy smile, and you will show it more. Show that smile more, and you will grow in your self-confidence. At the end of the day, others will definitely take notice.
How to Improve Your Smile
Since smiling leads to so many good things, it is vital to maintain good oral health so that you will want to smile frequently. What can you do to improve your smile and dental health? Experts recommend the following:
• Watch Your Diet—Eating too many foods with processed sugars increases your risk of cavities and other dental problems. Your dentist may have also told you that coffee, tea and other beverages can stain your teeth if you are not careful. You do not have to cut out these things entirely, but consuming them in moderation will reduce your odds of cavities and yellowing, both of which make your smile look less than its best.
• Brush Regularly—Brushing after every meal is another proven way to improve your smile. Using your tooth brush like your mom told you to will remove germs, bacteria and other enemies of a good smile.
• Remember to Floss—Lots of people brush on a regular basis. Fewer people floss as often as they should. Yet flossing is the only way to remove bacteria and germs from certain portions of your mouth. Without flossing, these bacteria and germs will grow and multiply, and you may end up with bleeding gums, cavities and lost teeth. None of those things are conducive to a smile of which you can be proud.
• Use Mouthwash—In addition to brushing and flossing, using a good mouthwash will assist you in acquiring the best smile. Mouthwash kills germs you miss when you brush and floss, providing an extra level of smile protection.
• Professional Whitening—Even those who are diligent to care for their smile will find that their teeth get discolored over time. Your dental office can perform professional whitening that will help each tooth look as white as it did the first time it came in to your mouth. A safe, effective whitening procedure is one of the easiest and surest ways to improve your smile.
• Regular Dental Checkups—Finally, seeing your dentist regularly will keep your mouth healthy and your smile looking its best. Your dental provider will be able to catch problems before they get serious and harm your smile. Quality dentists also provide a level of care that makes sure your daily routine of brushing and flossing is actually achieving the results you are seeking.
Keep Your Smile Healthy
Good oral health means a healthy smile, which leads to a longer life, a happier disposition and many other benefits. Pay attention to your smile by doing what you can to keep it in good health, and you will reap the rewards.