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A soapbox and a smile

Written by: Suzanna Palmer September 02 2012 The other day I heard something that put a burr under my tail, and I just have to vent. I was chatting with another mother when the subject of our little ones’ teeth came up. It’s a well-known fact that Jacob has the sweetest, most heartwarming smile in...

Written by: Suzanna Palmer

The other day I heard something that put a burr under my tail, and I just have to vent.

I was chatting with another mother when the subject of our little ones’ teeth came up.

It’s a well-known fact that Jacob has the sweetest, most heartwarming smile in the whole world. (Ahem.) It’s equally obvious that he has a bit of a gap between his front two teeth and one of his bottom teeth is coming in crooked. Rather than detracting from his smile, I think that these little imperfections add character.

I mentioned this to my friend, and she began to tell me that there was now such a thing as infant orthodontics. My jaw dropped, as she began to tell me how babies as young as 10 or 12 months could have their “orthodontic needs” addressed by a doctor. While I’m sure there may be rare cases where an orthodontist’s services may be helpful at this age, for the majority of kids, this seems not only unnecessary but possibly downright detrimental.

Most children (and adults for that matter) don’t need any help finding “reasons” for being insecure. I imagine that this kind of treatment at an early age could not only instill insecurity, it could reinforce the idea that physical perfection is a worthy goal no matter the cost. (The subject brings to mind reality shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” or “Little Miss Perfect.”)

As moms, I think that we should look for ways to inspire confidence in our kids–not point out their perceived physical imperfections. While I’m not saying I’m going to tell Jacob he’ll be the next Adonis–brilliant as the kid is, he wouldn’t know what I was talking about anyway–I’m certainly not going to point out his crooked tooth as a “flaw” either.

This is, at least in part, because I don’t think his smile HAS any flaws. Just because it’s different doesn't mean it’s worse. A little imperfection can be charming. (While I’m on my soapbox, I figure I might as well get it all out.)

Take my husband, Tom, for example. Per an orthodontist’s standards, he doesn’t have “perfect” teeth. I’m sure that if he went it for an assessment they would tell him that this tooth is too far forward, that tooth too far back, too close together, whatever. But, what they wouldn’t tell him is that his unique set of teeth gives his smile character, and, I’m convinced, is one of the main reasons why he is complimented on his grin so often.

While we will certainly be encouraging proper dental hygiene as Jacob grows older, for now, we plan to leave his sweet smile just the way it is, gap, crooked tooth and all.

If you ask me, he looks pretty happy about our decision.

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