The smile

I’ve had many people say to me that they’ve never seen a picture of me smiling.  Even my Times Union blog avatar doesn’t show my smile.  Well, that’s probably because my camera is in front of my face, but hey…

To be totally honest, I didn’t have much to smile over for years.  Even as recently as a year ago, I was feeling depressed and angry and hurt over the things that had happened to me in life.  There really wasn’t a reason to smile.  Yeah, I went through some years dealing with poor and weak enamel on my teeth, and I had some bonding that discolored years ago, and I still had that nasty chip in my front tooth – I can’t remember if it came from biting into a bad walnut or from some other stress-related issue.  I figured it wouldn’t be such a big deal, as long as the nerve isn’t exposed I’m okay.  It was just good enough.

I eventually set up appointments with my dental providers, whom long-time readers of my blog know as Mohler and Choo, D.D.S.  And after going through various cleanings and X-rays and planing and whatnot, I had at least a halfway decent smile.  It was just good enough.

Last Monday, I went to the dental office for my cleaning.  My dental hygienist, Mrs. Colgate, immediately went to work on my teeth.  “You’ve made some very good progress, Mr. Miller,” she said, “I think we can take this to the next level.”

“And that would be…”

“The last time you were in our office, we took some dental impressions with some alginate, do you remember?”

Oh yeah, that seaweed-tasting plaster that I had to bite into.

“We would like to make a dental tray for your teeth, and offer you a whitening plan to brighten your smile once and for all.”


“And I know you’re wondering about that bond on one of your teeth, well, we need to replace that anyway, so that your new bond will match your brand new bright white teeth.”

We looked over some of the available options.  And the plan became thus.  I would purchase a box of over-the-counter whitening strips, the kind that you’re supposed to keep in your mouth for at least a minimum of 30 minutes.  I would use these strips once a day for two weeks.  And during that time, I had to stay off things like coffee or tea or cola… yeah, that means diet cola as well.  No, I did not clutch my heart and do my best Fred Sanford impression.

And if, after two weeks, the whitening strips do their job, then Mohler and Choo will take care of replacing the aged bond on my front tooth.  If the whitening strips don’t achieve the goals, then I’ll have Mohler and Choo make those dental trays from the molds they took from my teeth, and we’ll use those four-hour-a-night industrial cleaning compounds.  Jeez, it almost sounds like I’m trying to restore concrete.

I don’t care.

Sometimes one needs a shot of motivation to do something like this.  But yeah, I need to smile more.  This is part of the 49th Resolution – to not let people who have hurt me in the past continue to hurt me in the future.  Maybe it is a sense that all I needed to do in my life was to just make my teeth good enough to chew food.  And that’s not good enough.  Not any more.

I want a smile that I can be proud of.  I want a smile so bright, I could start up a rock band with Floyd, Janet and Animal.

Because, as I’m writing this morning’s blog post, I’m currently wearing a pair of whitening strips on my teeth.  This is Day 1.  I’ll wear a fresh pair of these things 30 minutes every morning for the next two weeks.  And then, after that, I’ll set up an appointment with Mohler and Choo to get that bond on my upper front tooth replaced and rematched.  No, I’m not looking for a Mike Tyson gold-capped tooth, or something with a diamond stud in there.  Just something that allows me to smile and be happy.

And if it means swearing off diet cola for two weeks while these teeth change their shade, then I have to do it.  That’s why God invented flavored water, right?

And then, after all these moments, when it’s all done, then and only then will I smile.  For real this time.

As I said before, sometimes a man needs motivation to take care of things.  This year I’ve gotten a lot of motivation.  And a lot of positive things have happened in the months since I made that 49th Resolution.  Forward steps, all of them.

Those of you who have read my blog in the past know that I will use this blog as a personal motivational tool.  Whether it’s to honor those family members who have been called to glory, whether it’s to bring my photography to the next level, or even to inspire me to create Dream Window artworks… this blog has given me strength and commitment and motivation.

Now it’s time for the next step.

I’m ready.  And even though these whitening strips taste TER RI BLE – ugh, is hydrogen peroxide the only flavor available for these things – I’m going to move forward.

It’s my turn now.  My turn to smile.

And to not settle for just good enough.