Mark Dolson DDS O’Fallon Family Dentistry 126 Triad West Dr O’Fallon, MO 63366 636.978.2226 www.ofallonfamilydentistry.com
What a Difference a Smile Makes...
by Alyssa Walker Repritned from the Suburban Journals 2/14/08
I always dreaded going to the dentist. I would hear the drill ringing in my ears as I tried to sleep the night before an appointment. My smile has long been a source of shame. I was so embarrassed; I would cover my mouth while laughing. I had a lot of cavities and stained teeth. Most dentists would probably think that a teen with a mouth like mine was just neglecting their teeth, but I brush my teeth every day. My mom used to be a dental assistant. She would never let me neglect my teeth. The reason my teeth were bad was because, for the past several years, my mother and I have had serious money issues. My mom tried everything she could to make sure my teeth were taken care of, and I thank her for that. But with only one source of income and no dental insurance, there was no way we could afford major dental work. Last summer, I interviewed several music celebrities when I covered a Six Flags concert series for Amp. I was afraid to smile in front of them after I saw how bleach-white their teeth were. I cringed at the thought of these celebrities thinking to themselves, “How disgusting.” That was a turning point. I could no longer let my dread of the dentist stand in the way of fixing my smile. My mom took me to Dr. Mark Dolson of O’Fallon Family Dentistry. Immediately, I realized that he and his staff were unlike any I had ever seen. Normally, the receptionist makes your appointment, checks you in and goes on about his or her business. The staff hides behind a glass window and ignores you. But that did not happen here. The staff talked to my mom and myself as if we were friends. They shared what was going on in their lives and listened to what we had to say. They were some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. At my first appointment, I found out the cost of all of the work and realized how hard it would be for my mom to afford it. My eyes filled with tears as I looked at the bill. The receptionist saw that I was upset and tried to cheer me up. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll get you fixed up.” At other dentists, I hated climbing into what I called the “electric chair.” I always asked them to give me nitrous oxide so I would not feel anything. But when I requested the gas at Dr. Dolson’s office, he told me I would not need it. I thought, “Oh man, I’m not going go like this.” But when he numbed me up, I was amazed. I couldn’t feel a thing he was doing. I usually squirm around in the seat, but not this time. I had never heard of a dentist that had television sets in his exam room. But Dr. Dolson has flat-screen TVs suspended above the patients to help them relax. It definitely works. At the beginning of each visit, his assistant asked me which movie I wanted to watch. They had Legally Blonde, Blue Crush, Spider-Man, and others. My first few appointments were too short for me to complete an entire movie. But luckily, I was watching movies I had already seen, so I wasn’t missing out on anything. Dr. Dolson worried about moving his head out of my way so he wouldn’t block my view. Watching movies in a dental chair, I could not help but laugh. That made Dr. Dolson laugh because, after all, he was drilling on my teeth at the time. For my last appointment, they fixed and cleaned my front teeth. That visit lasted long enough for me to complete an entire movie. Afterward, I waited another 20 minutes while they finished up. But the wait paid off when he handed me a mirror so I could look at my brand new smile. It was the smile I had wanted to see for years. There it was, finally, smiling back at me in the mirror. It was an amazing, indescribable feeling. I remembered the tears I shed on my first visit. Now I was crying again, but they were happy tears. I could never express to Dr. Dolson how thankful I was for what he did, even though I probably tried to tell him a thousand times. Since that day, I’ve become much more proud and confident. I used to hide my teeth. Now all I want to do is smile. :)