A surprise from a sister leads to a new smile, and now Tanya Garcia has a new outlook on life and work
When Tanya Garcia was growing up in the foster care system in Las Cruces, New Mexico, her dental care was limited to cleanings that were mandated by the state. When she aged out of the system, she couldn’t afford to see a dentist regularly.
The challenge of growing up without her biological parents, combined with the inability to maintain her dental health, had a deep impact on Tanya’s self-esteem. Her lack of confidence in turn affected her personality and ability to interact with others. She was withdrawn and never considered dating or having a boyfriend a possibility.
“I didn’t have very good teeth and that made me an introvert. I didn’t smile when I took pictures,” Tanya says. Her social life was limited to a small circle of friends she met through her sister, and to family members.
She felt trapped. “Your smile is always something people see first and their impression of me is that I was standoffish,” she says. But Tanya’s true personality is anything but standoffish!
Fast forward to a few months ago. Tanya’s sister, Carrie, discovered that Las Cruces Dental Associates was holding a contest to give away new “smiles” to people who were being negatively affected by the condition of their teeth.
Without Tanya’s knowledge, Carrie filled out the application, which included a background about Tanya’s situation and why she was the perfect candidate to receive one of the free smiles. Carrie desperately wanted Tanya to be able to get out and socialize, possibly even start dating.
Being somewhat of a pessimist, Tanya was a little apprehensive when her sister first told her she was a finalist, but when Doctor Petersen told her she had won, she was elated.
“When I was selected, I felt it was unreal,” she says. “Stuff like this just doesn’t happen to me.”
After doing some research to overcome some minor dental anxiety, Tanya felt ready to go. But the reality of how her life would change after the procedure didn’t fully sink in until after her first appointment to start the process of transforming her smile.
The procedure involved taking an impression and x-rays, identifying any salvageable teeth, and then extractions. Finally, Tanya was fitted with a gorgeous set of new dentures to give her the smile she always wanted.
After just a few weeks with her new smile, Tanya was already sensing that people were noticing and that they might even be staring at her. “I’m not used to it,” she says, “and I’m, like, ‘what’s wrong, is there something on my face?”
What surprised Tanya the most about the results of the procedure was how her real personality surfaced once she was comfortable smiling. And her new smile is already paying dividends, especially at work, where she helps medical patients ensure Medicare eligibility.
“I didn’t know my smile impacted my employment situation, but I now know how much I wasn’t interacting with my co-workers,” Tanya says. Her co-workers are now seeing her sense of humor and sides of her personality she was unwilling to show prior to receiving her dentures.
As she began networking more with her colleagues, Tanya learned more about what was happening at her company. New channels of information were opened, and a co-worker informed her about an opportunity in another department that meant an increase in pay and responsibilities. She jumped at the opportunity to apply, and was promoted.
“Honestly that wouldn’t have been offered if I hadn’t started interacting with the other employees,” she says.
As far as the procedure, the team at Las Cruces Dental made Tanaya feel right at home. Tanya admitted that her dental anxiety was not very high, but she was surprised at how relaxed the team at Las Cruces Dental Solutions made her feel.
“The team definitely made me feel comfortable,” she says. “They explained everything to me as it was happening so I wouldn’t be anxious.”
The procedure has given Tanya a new, positive outlook on life.
“I’m already seeing some of the rewards,” she says. “I see now how much it was holding me back.”
Then she adds, with a chuckle: “My sister said, ‘now you can get out there and date,’ but I said, ‘I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet.’”