Laughter is said to be therapeutic. But not every human being could afford to even smile in the public, not to talk of laughing. And the reason may be as a result of certain disability, especially in the arrangement of their teeth.
Looking at the teeth of Lagos-based Chichi Anosike for instance, one will experience one of the pranks that nature plays on creatures. Her teeth are not in a straight row, a situation that tends to deny her and others with similar traits the benefit of easy smiles.
However, her story is likely to change very soon, as she is about to overcome her predicament, courtesy of being the winner of the maiden edition of Project Smile competition organised by Smile 360, dental specialists located in Ikoyi area of Lagos.
Anosike beat other nine people who participated in the contest, in which the most important requirement is to have a set of ‘bad’ teeth. Participants were required to make their entries by telling their stories through a short write-up about how they would benefit from a smile make-over and complimenting that with pictures highlighting their problems.
A panel then came up with a shortlist of ten names based primarily on the most endearing stories. Finally, a celebrity judge sat in with the team to select the benefactor from the shortlist.
At the award presentation ceremony held at the clinic recently, the Managing Director, Dr Amy Traore-Shumsho, hosted several dignitaries that included celebrated actress, Stella Damasus, who was a celebrity judge. The Nollywood star commended the organisers, but also noted that the screening process in which she worked with medical experts was an eye opener for her. According to her, she discovered that many people who have bad dentures allow them to affect their disposition to life. “A lot of Nigerian youths have issues with self confidence,” she said. “People feel because of the awkward state of their teeth, they will not be able to get job, and that people will laugh at them. So, it is good that Smile 360 is giving these people this opportunity.”
Damasus conceded that such people with deformed teeth and other forms of disability are denied roles in the entertainment industry. She thus urged producers and directors alike to focus on the talents that people have rather than marginalising them because of their physical limitations.
Speaking on the significance of the competition, Traore-Shumsho noted that the urge to support people who are unable to afford the services that Smile 360 offers in its regular business schedule informed the initiative.
“We have worked for some 12 years, but we have basically been providing services only for people who can afford such. Now wanting to accommodate others and give back to the society, and instead of doing the most beautiful this or that, we decided to organise one on the worst smiles in which someone who we will be able to assist will emerge as the winner,” the doctor said.
While noting that others would receive consolatory prizes, she said the operation to be done on Anosike would cost about N2m. An elated Anosike, who quickly sent a text message to her husband when she was declared the winner, thanked the organisers for the gesture.