At my dental office, I’m proud to be part of what my team and I call a “no judgment” zone. We don’t judge anyone who comes through the door. We don’t judge based on smile. We don’t judge based on appearance. We don’t judge based on what type of insurance someone has (or if they have no insurance at all). We’re interested only in what this person needs and how we can help. Together, we go on the journey to improve their oral health and their smile.
Still, it’s unfortunate but true: People make snap judgments about other people. Many of these judgments are based on appearance, like posture, clothing, haircut, and, you guessed it, teeth. Teeth that are crooked, oddly spaced, or discolored can be judged harshly.
Not only does the person judging make assumptions about someone’s dental health, but about their background, upbringing, and status, too. A marketing research firm, Kelton, found that people with straight teeth were judged to be more likely to get a job, be successful, and get a date compared to people with crooked teeth. I know that when people are embarrassed to smile, that can hamper their social lives. I’ve heard of other cases of people with unsightly teeth being passed over for promotion or employment because they don’t fit with the image the company has of itself.
Is this fair? No, not at all. But it reflects the reality of the society we live in. That’s why I believe what we do as dentists is so important. It goes beyond health to affect a person’s life in profound ways, from romantic relationships to employment opportunities. More importantly, I’ve seen how dental care can have a profound effect on a person’s self-esteem, allowing them to finally be comfortable in their own skin.
Many times people want to fix their smile but can’t because the cost is prohibitive, particularly when treatment is extensive and there’s no insurance to cover it. Still, some understand that they money they invest in dental care is not just an investment in their smile, but in their life. Many of the dentists I know are motivated by their desire to help people, and they can work out financial arrangements with patients to help them get the treatment they need in a way that works for them. If you’re in this position and you haven’t even visited the dentist because you assume that the care you need is out of reach, then I encourage you to go anyway for a conversation. You may be surprised at what comes out of it.
Remember that no matter what happens out in the world, when you come to visit us, you’ll be in a “no judgment” zone. We know that there’s much more to a person than their smile and that’s what we’re interested in.