Dentistry is about so much more than just teeth, and the new television series airing on Lifetime, “Smile,” proves just that. The series, which kicked off on May 28, will spotlight 12 individuals from around the country who are given the opportunity to makeover their smiles. Each participant has a different story that illustrates the ways that a smile can not only hinder how you live your life but also leave you powerless to it.
The first episode features the story of college senior, Alyssa, who struggles with a debilitating disease that has left her unable to smile. Though smiling seems like such a simple thing for most people, it leaves Alyssa in a state of constant insecurity. She struggles daily to meet the demands of her course work and to gain acceptance by her peers. Alyssa also finds dating difficult, discovering that if she cannot love herself, she cannot expect someone else to do so. This is just a glimpse into one of the lives featured in this unique and powerful series.
In each episode, the show takes the viewer back to a time in the individual’s life when they were once proud and confident of their smile. Interestingly, for every person featured, this time was during their childhood. Friends and family members who are interviewed describe them as happy, confident children who were always smiling. Due to time and circumstance, however, this happiness and confidence is now lost due to the inability to smile. After watching this series you not only get a real look into the lives of each of these individuals but you see how debilitated each person is by their smile. Their smile is the first thing they think about in the morning and the last thing they think about before they go to sleep. These thoughts are all consuming and all defining in their life. Their smile determines how they live their life and keeps them from the life they wish they could have.
As a dental student, I found “Smile” to be extremely profound. It is moving to me not only from the viewpoint of the people who are in need of the makeovers but from the dentists who will be providing them. “Smile” gives the viewer a great perspective of why so many people choose dentistry as a profession. Sure, we’re trying to save the world one tooth at a time, but being a part of the dental community means so much more than that. This series demonstrates through each individual’s story that a smile is self-defining. As dentists, we have the ability to change an individual’s smile, but we are also changing that big picture: how they see themselves in the mirror. As dentists, we have the privilege to be a part of what’s behind the smile. What does your smile say about you?
~Tabitha Dunham, Oklahoma ’17, associate, Council on Communications