Man’s Viral Story About How Fixing His Teeth Helped His Mental Health Is Proof We ALL Need Free Dental Care

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that our society is extremely judgmental about appearances. Strides have been made through body positivity and open discussion of unattainable beauty standards, but lots of stuff still flies under the radar.

Even things that are right in front of us all the time—like crooked teeth. If you’ve ever had dental issues, you know how self-conscious they can make you feel about something as basic as smiling. It may feel like vanity, but a smile is such a basic part of every day life. If you don’t feel good about yours, it’s a feeling that follows you around all the time.

A Twitter user named Jon Torsch shared a very personal thread about his smile journey. He shared before and after photos of his smile. Personally, I think he looks cute in the first picture, but his teeth are undeniably straighter in the second.

Torsch wanted to explain how his teeth being crooked most of his life affected everything, including his mental health.

He explains that he just paid 4 thousand dollars to do two round of Invisalign, plus some tooth shaping and retainers—and that was with insurance. When he was growing up, his family was too poor to do any of the dental work a lot of teens go through, so he had to wait until he had a job that could help him make the changes he wanted.

Even then, there were a lot of mental hurdles about spending the money on something he’d come to think of as “vain.”

But when he was looking through pictures of himself on happy occasions, he noticed something: he was never smiling:

Torsch says he had so much shame about his teeth that he trained himself to never show the natural open enjoyment of a smile. It was a shame he carried with him all the time, whether he was actively thinking about it or not:

Finally getting his teeth straightened hit him in an emotional way he hadn’t expected:

Basically, this:

Lots of people responded to Torsch’s message, sharing how concerns about their teeth have been haunting them all their lives. In some cases, dental work alleviated intense pain, even though it was still considered cosmetic or not covered by insurance.

Everyone deserves to feel good when they smile, whatever that means to them.