The Lost Starfish and Saving Broken Smiles

by Dr Joe@Toronto Dentist in Etobicoke · 16 comments

What’s your passion? Your grand mission? As a Toronto Dentist, I’m looking to save the world… one smile at a time. That’s the reason I’m willing to spend all day tinkering away in other people’s mouths.

Watch “The Starfish Story” =>

Here’s the thing, I can’t save every smile. Surely a noble cause, but not every starfish on the beach can be saved. Not all deserve to be.

Dentistry is optional. So is keeping your teeth. I can accept that, but I hate seeing people suffer.

I also hate seeing people continue making poor choices.

Here's a sweet little post-doodle for posting.

The Girl with the Broken Smile

I met a young woman the other day who mentioned she’ll be going on a big trip to Russia and the Far East this summer. The thing is, she also had a painful tooth needing Root Canal Treatment to relieve her pain. This put her in a financial bind.

Her choice? She’ll probably go off on that big trip and get her perfectly-savable tooth removed. If she delay treatment, she’ll just ignore that tooth completely and get it hauled out in Russia on the cheap.

She was clearly headed for some dental nightmares…

Wow! She sure as heck wasn’t interested in exceptional care or measures of prevention. She made it clear she didn’t place much value on her teeth, and from what I saw wasn’t making the effort to maintain them.

The only reason she was bothering with this particular tooth was because of the intense pain it was causing her. And the only reason she came to see me that day was to take advantage of our free initial consultation. She obviously wasn’t a good fit for our office.

By the way, that painful tooth in need of a root canal was far from her only problem. Many of her teeth were decalcified from years of poor oral hygiene and addiction to sweets. She wasn’t a complete “Grunge Mouth,” but she was clearly headed for some dental nightmares.

save smiles, save lost starfish

With that much destruction by age 20 and all that negative momentum, she’ll be lucky to keep her teeth much past 40. She’s a dental train-wreck already. So, unless she makes a dramatic shift, she’ll have years of pain and loss ahead of her.

She’s one of those people I just can’t save – a lost starfish.

Sometimes it comes down to trade-offs. I see people face tough choices every day. I also see people suffer the consequences of previous choices they made. Little everyday disciplines, like brushing, flossing and avoiding sweets.

Small disciplines don’t seem to make much difference. They do.

It’s tempting to make exceptions or partake in little indulgences. One day’s exception or indulgence can soon become the norm. Good intentions don’t count for much – everybody has good intentions. Most of the dental disasters I see don’t just randomly happen. The problems started up years ago and were left untreated.

Dental diseases are progressive in nature. Yesterday’s little problem becomes tomorrow’s catastrophe. It’s always tempting to leave things until it’s more urgent, but that’s a recipe for disaster.

Instead of seeking on the Path of Health, she’ll keep walking the Path of Pain…

Fortunately, most people lead disciplined lives and follow our guidance and recommendations. After all, trusted advice is a vital part of having a professional’s help. As a Cosmetic Dentist, it’s wonderful taking care of people who appreciate health and take a strong interest in their smile.

I prefer working with people that transcend from being a patient to becoming full partners in establishing a healthy beautiful smile for life. Those are the ones who appreciate exceptional care.

Some, like this young lady, will continue living on the edge. Instead of seeking on the Path of Health, she’ll keep walking the Path of Pain. She doesn’t choose pain, but neither does she heed warnings and take the steps to prevent future pain. Inevitably she’ll pay the price.

It’s always easy to pick the “fun” choice over the sensible or safe one. Here’s the thing, choices have consequences and the consequences are predictable.

Personally, I wouldn’t count on fairy-tales…

Bad choices have bad consequences and better choices have better consequences. That’s how life works. That’s how people can stay healthy and keep their teeth.

Maybe things will all work out for that young lady. Maybe she’ll get that fairytale ending – meet that man of her dreams who’ll rescue her from her sad fate.

Personally, I wouldn’t count on fairy-tales. I just hope she gets her act together in time.

Stay healthy and keep smiling!

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)

Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the owner-founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.

If you would like to learn more about your dental options, fill out our contact form or CALL 416 231-0550 for a FREE & Easy No-Obligation First Visit.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roxy June 15, 2010 at 8:45 am

Wow. This story shocks me. I cannot imagine a young person that would rather take a trip than save her teeth. Lets see… pain vs. travelling to Europe?? Hmm.. I’d choose the elimination of pain rather, and the saving of my smile, rather than a trip across the world. Your smile is the first thing that people see… It can add tremendous value to a first impression. I wish her luck.


2 Toronto Dentist - Dr. Joe June 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

I totally agree Roxy, but to each their own.

Most people would go through a bad experience once and that would be a enough of a wake-up call to make the turnaround. Not everyone though.

It’s guys that tend to mess up badly on healthcare. Adult women usually have their act together.

I wrote some new posts about the Path of Pain, Pain People and the Pain Trap. They all pertain to this young woman’s situation.
Toronto Dentist – Dr. Joe´s last blog post ..Path of Pain: Dental Pain Management II


3 Anjedira June 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I was a star fish once…… and was saved from my embarrassment of smiling. And now I help others realize that they could be saved too….. one star fish at a time and there is nothing greater than seeing someone so happy and confident after they leave its such a great feeling.


4 Toronto Dentist - Dr. Joe June 15, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Now you’re that little boy saving those starfish :)


5 Michael Aviado July 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Touching stories..


6 Toronto Dentist - Dr. Joe Bulger July 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

Thanks for the comments Michael. That Starfish story really hits home for me. I wish I could save every smile I see.


7 Iris March 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

Its so important for health dental, check out this site about Implantes, there is a lot of information about.


8 Felicia @ No Deposit Poker October 14, 2010 at 1:31 am

Hi Dr. Joe,
When I was a young child, I did not like going to our dentist, but when I first experienced a painful bad tooth, I then realized that taking care of my teeth and visiting the dentist at least twice a year is a must. I still like sweet stuff, but I make it a point to brush my teeth afterward and take out any small particles left in between my teeth.
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9 Brazilian Dentist November 16, 2010 at 8:01 am

People really should know that dental health is very impportant for the whole body health. Very nice text.
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10 San Ramon Dentist January 2, 2011 at 2:10 am

Wow what a story! Thanks for sharing!


11 Dental Hygienist Mississauga June 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Wow, I really appreciate the passion you have for your patients. I am sure it is so difficult to watch someone ruin such an important part of their makeup. This was a very telling realistic story of something I am sure happens all too offten.


12 Richard Casson Dentist London August 4, 2011 at 5:50 am

Great site, blog and post, keep up the good work and keep people smiling.

What dentists ultimately should be all about :-)
Richard Casson Dentist London´s last blog post ..Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Part II


13 Justin Jordan June 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Crazy story. I agree with all of your. A smile is so high on the list of first impression. It gives people something to look at while your talking. The more healthy your teeth are the more your smile.


14 karlomoss@cosmetic dentist NJ September 17, 2012 at 8:54 am

Cosmetic dentistry could be found into free way and here you will get the tips. For the fact, it is not cheap if you want to get cosmetic procedures for dental such as tooth whitening and veneers which means that mostly, dental insurance companies never offer that treatment. Of course, it could be defined that all costs are the responsible for all patients but the free way for bartering system is available for you.


15 cheap calgary orthodontist November 29, 2012 at 7:24 am

wow….really great post…surprising and touching… :)
i appreciate your work… hope your other blogs as same as good as it is..
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16 invisible braces January 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

Great story, I am touched. It’s amazing that how could be anyone so kind heart. Thanks for sharing this story.
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