For a beauty pageant contestant, a great smile can be as important as stage presence, self-confidence, and rhinestones.
Alexandria Hodnik had just started entering pageants around her native Staten Island, New York, and won the Miss Teen North America title when she realized her less-than-perfect smile might keep her from winning more crowns. “I had an overbite,” says the 19-year-old. “My right-top-front tooth was pushed out, and my bottom tooth was pushing all the way back. It was noticeable.”
Alexandria had already overcome a lot. The beauty queen has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Entering pageants was a way for her to overcome the shyness and anxiety that comes with Asperger’s by building public speaking skills and confidence. And while she’d achieved those goals, she was now self-conscious about her smile — a huge liability on the pageant circuit.
“I smiled with my mouth closed, and I was hesitant to smile,” she says. “It was awkward, and it wasn’t showing my personality.”
Her mother, Carolyn Gardner, looked into getting braces for Alexandria but decided against them. Alexandria has entered six pageants in two years. Besides the busy schedule that comes with pageant life, a doctor’s office visit a month would have been too much for her, Carolyn says.
“Whenever we go to a doctor or dentist’s office, Allie gets very anxious,” Carolyn says. “She worries for days leading up to it. I didn’t think she would be a good candidate for a couple of years of monthly appointments in an office.” Plus, Carolyn’s own memories of braces weren’t positive. She wore metal bands on her teeth for three years that left them damaged, she says. “I remember feeling like a nerd, with all that metal in my mouth,” she says.
Alexandria began her smile journey with SmileDirectClub, where she got started using their telehealth platform. Her mom saw a TV commercial, and they decided to check it out. She did her 3D scan at the SmileDirectClub office in Staten Island and started wearing her SmileDirectClub clear aligners in the summer of 2019. She felt better about her teeth almost immediately.
“She stopped covering her mouth when she smiled,” Carolyn says. “She was much happier.”
Alexandria went back to the SmileDirectClub office just once, to check the fit of the first set of aligners. Her treatment was overseen remotely by one of SmileDirectClub’s state-licensed dentists and she completed virtual check-ins with them along the way. She wore her aligners as prescribed by her doctor and saw her smile improve with each step.
SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners let Alexandria keep modeling, something she couldn’t have done with a mouthful of metal braces. The aligners didn’t show, and she could take them out during a photo shoot. “They totally fit my activities as a model,” Alexandria says.
Alexandria’s treatment took just six months. Once she was out of her aligners, she whitened her teeth with SmileDirectClub’s whitening kit, and the benefits of her gleaming, new smile were immediate. Alexandria won Miss Photogenic in the Teen North American pageant and the interview award in a second pageant. “I was so much happier with my smile, and it showed,” Alexandria says. “I have confidence in my mouth. My smile is better, and I love it. I like showing my teeth.”
Her teeth will get her more than pageant prizes, though. Alexandria has an eye to a career in beauty, so she enrolled at the College of Staten Island, where she studies business. She wants to be a professional makeup artist and launch her own cosmetics line. Just like any challenge life has thrown her way, she’s ready to take it on without fear. But now, she has the added confidence of her new smile.
“If you feel good about the way you look, your whole life gets better,” she says. “I realize that every time I smile and people tell me how good my teeth look. I want to make people feel good about themselves, too.”