This Year I’m Thankful for My Smile

I’ve done everything but the dreaded headgear!

By Di Chapman

Dear readers,

I have a hilarious, and seriously embarrassing, admission I must make. I must have had my thumb in my mouth coming out of the womb, because I sure as heck was a champion “thumb sucker” throughout my childhood. I know, I know. Laugh at me all you like. Talk about being in the closet. It was like the dark little secret of school children of the late 50s and early 60s. Please, y’all, tell me I wasn’t alone.

Dang, I regretted it later. While most teenagers looked at their classmates whose parents slapped braces on them were thinking, “There but for the grace of God…” I was the child who always looked at them with jealousy, except for the extremely unfashionable headgear. Who thought of that, anyway? I knew the result of those embarrassing contraptions, though, was an awesome smile—something I never thought I’d have. My parents couldn’t even afford basic dental care for us five kids, let alone orthodontia.

So, this November I am thankful for my smile, and I give accolades to some unsung heroes in my life. I know most of you (once again) will find this weird, but why should I be any different with this column than I am with any other I write? I’m talking about paying honest-to-goodness homage to the dentists in my lifetime. I have very good reasons for sharing my story of how I made the decision to take my teeth “by the horns” and make the smile I have today.

Most of us don’t speak about upcoming dental appointments with breathless anticipation. No, they’re not hot dates. They’re not sumptuous dinners of whatever meal you salivate over. They’re not a girls’ trip to Bloomie’s. You’d rather be doing anything else than seeing them with their bizarre torture instruments and eye-popping needles. (One should NEVER look at those. Period.)

And then there’s me. I gladly jump into the dentist chair in anticipation of the next step in tooth health I’ll experience. Bring on the thingee-doodles that scrape, pick, and could pull your eyeball right out of its socket. Bring on that nasty lookin’ tool with jaws you could use on the barbeque, but pulls off old crowns instead. And drill baby, drill! Just kidding. There are some universally creepy dental procedures and drilling is one.

As I mentioned above, we had very little dentistry as children. It finally started in my senior year of high school. We discovered and treated cavities and all. My teeth were finally being seen.

Moving on, in Phoenix, I was told that if I didn’t take oral hygiene training I’d lose my teeth. Ouch! I got on it. Who wouldn’t?

Fast forward to a California move and a recommendation to see a young woman dentist. I met Dr. Cheryl Colker, and not only did she become my dentist for twenty-two years, she also became a dear friend. We were in our young 30s, unmarried, and ready for fun. We’d go from dental work to dancing, shopping, or dining. As my teeth needed serious work from a lack of childhood dental care, she was on top of it. Root canal became my middle name. (I’ve known friends who’ve never had a cavity. Who are these people?) Then she crafted crown after crown. We went through the trenches together. Ultimately, when it seemed like my entire mouth had become one big nest of crowns, she studied dental aesthetics and transformed my mouth into a beautiful smile.

Next was Roswell.

I found a practice where I could “claim a chair” and put my name on it. It’s the Aesthetic and Integrative Dentistry office of Dr. Victoria Callicutt, DDS and Dr. Amy Dayries, DMD. The integrative part refers to Dr. Dayries, who brought it on after graduating from the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine’s two-year Interprofessional Fellowship. She has enhanced her dental services by offering treatment modalities to patients for numerous systemic health conditions. If you’re seeking a blend of healthcare practices, integrative medicine is a choice.

After nearly seven years in the chair there, I decided to interview Dr. Callicutt, who always responds to my constant chair chatter by joining in. She loves offering aesthetic services—creating “beautiful, healthy looks” with dental techniques, facial fillers, and other cosmetic injectables. Why not? She knows how to use needles, and these tiny guys won’t make you faint. Her practice offers the aesthetics of veneers, crowns, implants, clear aligner orthodontics, and whitening products. It’s got my name all over it.

I’m sure you’re not surprised to know that I’m not exactly “Shy Di.” In this office, I’m “Boisterous Di,” and they let me in anyway. No laughing gas needed, but they’d happily give it to me if I wanted. Heaven knows I own that office, baby, keeping my own pearly whites up to speed with cleanings (love that baking soda “blast,”as I call it) and all of the offerings—veneers, crowns, clear orthodontics, and (woohoo!) facial injectables. I should just move in.

Dr. Callicutt patiently attends to my demands for the smile of my dreams which, by the way, are a result of my obsessive tendency toward peering at my teeth. I regularly gag and spit out the goo of impression material after begging for more aligners. Only I would want to subject myself to that torture. Where’s that headgear?

I’m doggone thankful I chose a lifetime of being “in the chair.” My face might age (good gosh, give me injectables!), but I refuse to let my smile grow old. Keep that chair warm for me as long as I’m around.
A smile is the best thing you can wear. And ladies? Add a pair of jeans that shape and firm your buns, and whatever life brings, you’re ready.

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at