New Smile, New Me | Teen Ink

New Smile, New Me

June 25, 2023
By tnguyen2024 BRONZE, Hudson, Massachusetts
tnguyen2024 BRONZE, Hudson, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I was born with an extra tooth. Actually, a small bone lodged between my upper right canine and a baby tooth. I found out about this bone at a consultation for braces in sixth grade but was originally unfazed. A small bone would not be too complicated right? Oh, how naive of me.

“You will need surgery to extract the bones which will be followed by years of braces,” explained the doctor, “and you may need a tooth implant if the surgery goes wrong due to the 30% chance of failure.” And as if the surgery wasn’t complicated enough, I also had a short window of time that the surgery could be done. My mom decided to give me the power to choose what happened frankly because she was as terrified as me and I ultimately refused the treatment. The thought of being under anesthesia while a doctor drilled out pieces of my gums was unsettling. Also, I could not fathom being a fourteen-year-old with more fake teeth than my parents if the surgery failed. 

I did end up going through with the surgery two years later, which was a bloody, painful mess, but relatively successful with the help of another minor surgery. I did not know why I decided to undergo treatment at the time. Perhaps I had succumbed to the pressures of needing a perfect smile. Maybe I unknowingly took a leap of faith or convinced myself that the surgery would be painless. In reality, it was regret that pushed me into the brackets of braces. 

F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out), as it turns out, is much more powerful than I realized. While my fear of surgery was strong, I hated the feeling of knowing that I would be missing out on an opportunity that would change my smile. To me, the sinking feeling of “what if” was not worth never having to endure a little pain or even a tooth implant. Strangely enough, it was the regret from indecisiveness that encouraged me to have the surgery done. 

Regret is often perceived as a negative feeling, but I’ve grown to appreciate the motivation that follows. The uncomfortable moments of reflection are often the most important ones and have helped me realize that regret is guidance, not necessarily a punishment. I’ve found that all my decisions are more fulfilling knowing that the greatest consequence of my actions is not the regret of action, but the remorse from passiveness. Waiting for the “perfect” choice to arrive was my way to hiding from opportunity. And because of this, regret is something I live by; it is a teacher that has shown me the beauty of initiative. With every orthodontist appointment, my smile transforms, yet perhaps the biggest change transpires in the girl reflected in the mirror and the way she now leads her life.

The author's comments:

I originally wrote this piece to remind myself that life's too short be afraid of opportunities! While my braces have certainly held back what I can eat, they have pushed me to bigger and greater things. I hope to encourage others to live their lives with the same mindset.

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