Even though my teeth have always been crooked, smiling has been as natural as breathing for me. I love to smile! When I was young, I pretended my teeth were different and that there was a brilliance of white and perfect alignment. In my dreams, they were flawless. As I aged, the idea lost importance, and it didn't matter as much. Life funneled reason upon reason for me to smile regardless. Several years ago I was given even more reason to appreciate the gift of my smile when I was a passenger in a terrible automobile accident. My upper jaw was fractured and three of my front teeth were lost (just not the crooked one). I was simply thankful to be alive and smiled even more.This past year, however, has given new meaning to the phrase "grin and bear it." Cancer, chemotherapy and other treatments have taken a toll on my oral health and caught up with me. Life unfolded and my teeth were pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Insurance would only pay for a small portion of the work that needed to be done. I started to feel that I could no longer smile. When I did, I hid my teeth behind lips pursed shut. I began talking with a hand over my mouth and attempted to cover the havoc and embarrassment with breath mints, strips and sprays. Then a tooth broke. Suddenly I joined the 400,000 other cancer survivors that will experience treatment-related oral complications this year. I reluctantly and fearfully traded my comfy chemo chair for a comfy dental chair. For the past few months I have been thankful for the patient and gentle care of Dr. Benjamin Bunt. He and his team have been wonderful as they worked to get my dental problems under control; even making a root canal seem like not such a terrible thing.This morning I arrived in the office once again. Nervous at first, I gripped the arms of the chair tightly. Dr. Bunt went to work sculpting, lasering and shaping. Four hours later, he held up a mirror as I swallowed back tears. In the midst of cancer and the chaos of chemo, he created a smile that I've dreamed of my entire life. As I type these words, the tears are no longer contained.So the next time you see me - watch for my smile. It won't be the old familiar one, but instead a brighter, whiter and healthier one! That perfect smile - it's mine!