Going into the dental field seemed to be written in neon lights when I was a kid. My dad had worked in dental offices as a dental equipment repairman, and because of reasons unknown, many of my adult teeth never developed. My mom can recall my teeth being misshaped and pointy when they erupted at the age of one.
But it wasn’t until about the age of three I had my first dental X-Rays revealing the unusual circumstances that would have life-long effects. The Panoramic X-Ray revealed that several of my adult teeth, which normally develop under baby teeth in the jaws, were not there.
Due to this phenomenon, (a rare situation indeed) some of my permanent teeth were never replaced when my primary baby teeth were lost. Thirteen of them, to be exact. Nearly half of my mouth was missing teeth. Even more, some of my baby teeth did not fall out. Talk about some stubborn teeth! Those were eventually extracted to make room for alternative teeth replacements.
“It was going to be a long journey before I had a full set of teeth.”
However, before new teeth were placed, my amazing dentist in Fort Wayne (retired now) had me do orthodontics for the existing teeth. Like many kids my age, I began wearing braces in the sixth grade. I was given a mouth guard for football and hockey practice, which was tough to get used to at first, but braces didn’t affect me too much.
When my friends began to shed their braces, I still had mine on. And then it hit me- the differences between me and my friend’s teeth became more apparent.
In fact, I ended up wearing my braces for 6 years! That is much longer than the average time of teeth alignment – about three to six times more! Differences between me and my friends’ dentition became more apparent as a teenager and into young adulthood.
Into young adulthood, my dedicated dentist, orthodontist, and oral surgeon worked as a team to coordinate my treatment. Between getting my braces tightened regularly, having multiple teeth extracted, then preparing for the final restoration, I was able to learn more about dentistry than the average kid.
My dentist was one of the most compassionate people I had ever known. He made the process seem easy. I didn’t know it at the time, but the dentist who treated me still says my mouth is the hardest case he has ever had.
Despite everything that was done, I spent a lot of time waiting. Waiting on my jawbone, gums, and face to develop. In the end, we elected to do bridges to replace most of my missing teeth, which make up what my smile is today. At 17, I finally was able to smile confidently. Age seventeen is a very young age to have these sorts of treatments done, but the goal was to have my treatment completed before the end of high school and beginning of college.
“I felt like I had a unique perspective on the profession. More importantly, I really felt that I could impact people’s lives in this profession.”
My smile was bigger, and I showed it more often. Throughout the entire process, I couldn’t help but think about the team of dental specialists that helped me. They made it so much easier to smile, and I loved showing off my new pearly whites.
Thinking of the impact that made on my smile and confidence, it was an obvious choice that being in the dental profession would be in my future. I felt like I had a unique perspective on the profession, and more importantly, I felt that I could impact other people’s lives just like my dentist had for me. I wanted to help people smile if they’d never been able to do so before. I guess you could say that I was born to do this job.
Dr. Hale knows first-hand the life-changing impact of a toothless smile. If you or someone you know is looking for a qualified dentist, Dr. Hale and Hale Family Dentistry can help. Gain a beautiful smile at Hale Family Dentistry.
Before & After of Oligondontia
Dr. Hale suffers from oligodontia which is a rare congenital dental disorder defined by the absence of six or more teeth. This diagnosis required substantial dental treatment and a full smile makeover.
Normal Panoramic X-Ray of Child
This is a digital panoramic X-Ray of a child whose teeth are developing normally in the jaw. You can see that there are teeth stacked on top of more teeth. Those are adult (permanent) teeth that will push through as the child ages and begins to lose baby (primary) teeth. Thirteen of Dr. Hale’s teeth that should have been under his baby teeth were not there.
Dr. Hale’s dental journey continues. Read Part II of Dr. Hale’s dental journey “From Dentist to Patient.”