As the 2 Works for You dentist, Dr. Kevin Winters has been asked many sensitive questions. But perhaps none is so sensitive as when someone asks about their spouse’s teeth. Dr. Winters gave a basic introduction of how people can get information about how their smiles can be improved.
But this involves getting a consultation with a dentist. Getting to that point can be a challenge. In fact, it can be hard to even start discussing this issue with your spouse. Here are some tips that can help you start a conversation about cosmetic dentistry in a way that is effective and sensitive.
Focus on Health and Love
The worst thing you can do is to make your spouse feel even more self-conscious than they already are. Don’t focus on the appearance of their teeth or talk about a smile makeover, especially not at first. Start out by focusing on their health and how much you love them.
Many so-called cosmetic problems with teeth are also health problems. It’s quite likely that the appearance of their smile may be related to dental problems that can contribute to life-threatening complications, such as heart disease.
Stress that you love them and want your lives together to be long and healthy, and for that reason, you want them to take good care of their teeth.
Say You Want Them to Be Happy
Again, it’s important to focus on the positive outcomes you want. Most people who are unhappy with the appearance of their smile tend to smile less. Smiling less isn’t just about displaying emotion, it’s about creating emotion. People who smile more tend to be happier, and if you suppress your smile, you are actually suppressing your feelings, too.
Talk to your spouse about how seeing their smile makes you happy, and that you want them to feel free to smile as much as they want. Tell them you want to see them smiling in pictures so you can see the pictures as happy memories. That’s harder to do when your spouse is making a half-smile or no smile at all.
Tell Them You’re Not Trying to Change Them
One of the difficult responses to get past is that people feel you’re trying to change them. If you love them, why would you want them to change?
Frame the conversation in a way that shows this isn’t the case. You want their smile to reflect their personality. Their current habit of hiding their smile is like them wearing a mask, and you want to take that mask off so their true self can show through.
Don’t Blame Them
The worst thing you can do is try to tell them that it’s their fault their smile is a mess. This may or may not be true–it doesn’t matter. It’s unhelpful to bring it up. Focus on where you go from here. That’s what really matters, not how you got here.
Don’t Try to Force Them
In the end, you can’t make them fix their teeth. It’s unhelpful to try techniques like scheduling a consultation for them, or constantly nagging them about the problem. This can make them feel ambushed or hounded, which can make them defensive. Then they’ll be unreceptive to your suggestions and ideas.
Instead of trying to force them, be encouraging and supportive. Let them know they have the power to make the difference in their own lives. Offer to go with them for a consultation, but don’t insist.
Ultimately, you have to accept that they may not want to fix their teeth, and then you have to decide what you’re going to do. Love is a series of negotiations and compromises, and marriage even more so. But hopefully you can come to an agreement that will make you both smile.