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Just a few weeks ago, 6-year-old Ryan Coutinho never smiled. Why? Because he was embarrassed. He had lost all his teeth at the age of three because of early cavities.
But now his problem has been fixed and he can’t stop smiling!
Although it is a miracle turnaround, getting the boy’s smile back was nearly impossible dentist Amanda Mattos admits. Learn more about this boy’s story and how he got his smile back below!
The little boy grew up in a small, poor town in northeastern Brazil called Gaujeru. The local dentist had been forced to pull out all of the boy’s teeth because they were riddled with cavities. He only had a few teeth left in his lower jaw.
But after his teeth were pulled, the boy did not have a smile. He was embarrassed and ridiculed.
It was just two years ago when 25-year-old Dr. Mattos met little Ryan. She was working at a social project that happened to be at the boy’s school. His lack of a smile was a sad sight to see.
“I had never seen something like this,” she told the BBC.
After asking the teacher about Ryan, the teacher told Dr. Mattos that the boy never smiled and even refused to engage with other students because he was embarrassed about his smile.
Dr. Mattos was moved. She wanted to help the little boy smile again, so she contacted Ryan’s mother through the teacher. But Ryan’s mother refused the doctor’s help. She worried that her son would just be subjected to another doctor like the one who ruined his smile before.
“They are all very modest, live outside the town and didn’t understand the procedures,” the dentist said. “They were still shaken by the process that removed all his teeth.”
Dr. Mattos could have let it go and Ryan’s story could have ended there. But fate intervened.
Two years later, Ryan’s mother got a job at the same public health clinic where Dr. Mattos works.
Soon after they reestablished their connection, Ryan had another pain in one of his few remaining teeth. His mother brought him to Dr. Mattos this time.
“I asked him what he wanted. He smiled and said: ‘a smile like my friends”,” the dentist said.
Ryan’s mom wanted to refused. But she talked to the boy’s father and they decided they should trust the doctor. The town’s clinic would not pay for the cosmetic procedure. So, Dr. Mattos brought her own equipment and offered to do it for free.
Ryan went through a number of preparations including X-rays. And on October 14, two days after Brazil’s Children’s Day, he finally got his new smile. This was just a denture for his upper arch.
When he first saw his new teeth, the boy’s reaction was moving.
“We all cried. It was very moving,” the dentist said.
Ryan’s permanent teeth will not come out, the dentist said. So, when he turns 18, he can get dental implants.
“I’m really surprised by the reaction, it’s unexpected,” she said. “I guess all the reaction has to do with the complexity of the case. And because people aren’t used to generosity any more. So, when they see cases like this, there’s commotion.”
Now, Ryan cannot stop smiling!
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