High school student Gustavo Lopez III (Gus) wanted straighter teeth but didn’t want years of braces. Luckily, his supportive, close-knit family was on board to help him find a solution. And not only did his new smile make him look college-ready, it gave him an inner confidence he was proud to own.
Before, he’d constantly felt that other people were looking at his teeth and silently judging him. “I would still smile, but I can tell people noticed [my teeth] – and I noticed that. People would say, ‘Why haven’t you gotten braces?’”
Gus really wanted to straighten his teeth before his senior year but was told he’d need to wear braces through the first half of college. Many of his friends – all approaching their senior year of high school in greater Los Angeles – wore braces, and some had them for over 2½ years.
“The experience looked awful. I did not want that.”
When his father (Gus Jr. – aka Junior) asked the dentist about alternatives, “he gave us a ginormous price tag” for traditional aligner treatment. But then a friend at Junior’s gym said he’d worn SmileDirectClub aligners – and that he’d loved them.
Gus’s family is tight – his grandmother lives with them, they all do a lot together, and they also make big decisions together. So when Gus had his 3D scan done at a SmileShop in Manhattan Beach, he took the entire family. Gus’s mom had braces when she was young and was a bit skeptical about how much treatment was included for the price of aligners. Everyone had questions.
But the manager did a great job of explaining how “your dentist will design and oversee Gus’s plan” – because one specific dentist really does direct an individual’s entire smile journey. And the family was pleasantly surprised that it would all be included in the price.
“That conversation really took away any doubt,” says Junior. “Knowing we could turn to someone specifically for guidance if we needed it.”
Gus was very proud showing off his 3D scan to his family and seeing how it reassured them.
“I still have the pictures on my phone.”
Before Gus started his treatment, Junior had many talks with him about sticking with the plan. “I wanted him to understand the gravity of the investment – not just short-term but long-term.” Gus was aware of the financial investment his family was making and let them know he was on board with the commitment.
When the purple box arrived, “It was like, okay, it’s time, I’m going to do it!” Gus says. And it turned out that he did a great job keeping up with his treatment – even at school. “After the first month, it was pretty easy.” Many kids didn’t realize for months that he was wearing aligners.
His father was beyond impressed. Says Junior, “He did a really great job following the process.”
“He stuck to it. He didn’t lose one aligner. I don’t think he fell out of the treatment plan once.”
Gus had his school picture taken right before he started treatment. That was his reference point for seeing changes – because though he could feel his teeth shifting, he didn’t really see it until later. Now, he sees a photo of himself in the family living room and can clearly make the comparison. He’s very proud of it.
“He’ll take you to the living room where his school portrait is hanging and point out the differences,” says Junior.
After a 6-month treatment plan, he loves his new smile – even if the pandemic means he can’t really show it off yet.
“I see people struggle who don’t have straight teeth, and the lack of confidence some of them have,” says Junior. “As Gus goes to college and starts to build his own life, he’ll start out a step above.”
“I feel proud that we as parents made the right decision for him and his future.”
Gus is glad they trusted him. “I do feel more confident now that I don’t have to get those questions, ‘Do you need braces? Why don’t you have braces?’”
“I’ll have a great smile for senior year, and not go into college with anything but straight teeth.”