I believe in smiles. There is power in a smile. For both the smiler and the smilee. I find myself smiling over mundane and odd things. I smile and roll my eyes at my husband playing light saber games with the kids. I smile and roll my windows down in appreciation for a beautiful sunny day. I smile and reread a particularly well-turned phrase in whatever book I am reading. I smile when I catch my kid doing something nice.
But sometimes I smile because it is important. I smile with encouragement for a terrified three-year-old. I smile in relief as I go through my eight-year-old’s test folder without finding anything I need to scold. I smile for my friend who’s had just as tough a day as I have. I smile for the same friend as I ask, “How’s your Mama doin’?”—not an idle question when Mama is doing chemo. Sometimes I smile just because there’s nothing else I can do.
And you know what? It helps. It helps me when I’m the one smiling to get through the pain—my own or someone else’s. It helps when I see the smile on someone else’s face that gives me the lift I need at that moment.
Smiles have power. Smiles are beautiful.
I spend my day fixing smiles. Delivering a denture to a lady who has gone without teeth for months here, a quick whitening procedure there, an orthodontic adjustment in this room, a stand-in for the tooth fairy in the room down the hall…it’s all in a day’s work. I am a family dentist. It’s not an unusual day when my oldest patient is over ninety and my youngest patient isn’t two yet. I am not saying a smile has to be physically attractive to be beautiful, but when I help a person who perceives their smile as damaged in some way—I believe I have made a difference. And when they smile back at me when we are done? Well, that makes me smile, too.