The year 2020 was a year of change for Diana Hairston, for so many reasons.
In January, the Baltimore mom of two young children, ages 4 and 1, and her husband, a musician, moved their family from a neighborhood she describes as riddled by crime and violence to a safer home, near the city’s Inner Harbor and sports stadiums downtown. She also landed a new job as a paralegal.
“Everything was a fresh start —taking my children out of this bad area, starting a new job,” she says. That fresh start also inspired Diana to focus on something special for herself — something she had wanted to do for years.
Just before the pandemic closed down cities nationwide, Diana invested in something for herself — her smile.
She had three gaps in her teeth, she says, one in the center, and two large ones on the sides.
“If I turned to the side it looked like I had a missing tooth,” she says. “I didn’t like to show my teeth a lot.” She would smile for photos only when she faced the camera — nothing to the side — so her gaps didn’t show.
“When I was younger I used to have insecurities about it,” she says.
Growing up, Diana was one of six children in a family that didn’t have a lot of extra money. “I didn’t want to put the burden of braces on my parents growing up,” she explains.
And while her husband told her she looked beautiful, she still felt self conscious.
“When I became an adult I said, ‘OK, I can take care of my own finances at this point, I should be able to fix my teeth.'” Still, Diana worried about the cost of traditional orthodontia.
SmileDirectClub ads kept appearing on her Facebook page, she says, and the cost of $89 a month seemed affordable. She took her impressions, and used the smile stretcher to take photos of all of her teeth, as SmileDirectClub suggests.
“I looked at the picture after I was done and I was like, ‘I’m going through with it. I have to’.”
She sent both back to the company so SmileDirectClub dentists could review those along with her records, and plan her treatment. That was toward the end of February. Around the beginning of March, she received her first aligners.
A few years ago, Diana started sharing personal videos to document the silly toddler antics in her home on YouTube. This year she added personal testimonials about her journey to a better smile and new confidence. She posted video blog entries of her experiences online. She had seen some negative feedback about SmileDirectClub, and saw that many potential customers had questions. Her videos aim to ease those concerns by walking viewers through her experiences at every point.
In sum: The process and the aligners really do work. And the reactions she’s gotten to her videos have been overwhelmingly positive.
Diana’s advice to anyone interested in SmileDirectClub is to try it – and also make sure to follow the guidelines. In her case, she needed to wear her aligners 22 hours a day, and she stuck to that. She wonders if perhaps those with negative experiences didn’t really follow the guidelines.
“When you’re investing in something you want to make sure you get the best out of it,” she says.
Sadly, the year hasn’t all been a happy, healthy restart. Diana, as well as several family members, caught COVID-19, including her father, who was hospitalized. She’s lost some relatives to the disease, making this a rather difficult time.
But she’s tried to focus on the joy.
“I’m still able to say I’m here, I’m healthy, I have two beautiful children, I have a job,” she says.
And she has her smile.
“A lot of people say your smile shows who you are. Before this, I didn’t smile as much because I was afraid to show my teeth. It feels bad when you’re around people and can’t show your true self because you’re ashamed of your hair or your teeth,” Diana says.
“Now I can show the joy around me.”