Smile

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Smile TV Poster Image
Dental makeovers are bloody but positively transformative.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Identifies reasons for bad teeth, feelings about living with them. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dentists and families are supportive. 

Violence

Infected gums, broken teeth, needles, bloody dental procedures. Severe accidents described. 

Sex

Folks afraid of dating, relationships due to their teeth. 

Language
Consumerism

The show gives the dentists involved free publicity. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer drinking shown; drug addiction discussed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Smile is a reality show featuring people getting their bad teeth repaired and restored for free and showing how this helps their self-esteem. It's positive, but sensitive viewers may find it hard to look at the images of swollen, infected gums and bloody dental procedures. Treatment plan descriptions also may make them a bit queasy. Dating, accidents, and addiction are discussed, and on occasion there's some drinking (beer). 

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What's the story?

SMILE is a reality show about people who are being held back by their bad teeth and the dental treatments that change their lives. It features people from all walks of life whose teeth are in such bad disrepair that it makes them feel incapable of fully participating in the world. Cameras follow as they talk about their physical, psychological, and emotional discomforts, meet with dentists, and undergo multiple procedures. The moment when each person privately sees his or her smile for the first time also is captured. Throughout it all, specialists such as Dr. Amir Ahmadi and Dr. Kimberly Knopf, who are treating them free of charge, explain the restorative process in detail. It's a difficult process that makes each participant look better on the outside but also does something positive for them within. 

Is it any good?

This positive and informative makeover series allows viewers to see the physical and emotional transformations that result from having a nice smile. It also highlights some of the causes of bad teeth, which range from genetic disorders to decay caused by the extensive use of drugs due to medical treatments and/or addiction. The inability to afford good dental care also is underscored as a major factor. 

Granted, the images of rotting teeth and bloody dental procedures aren't easy to watch. Viewers also may feel frustrated when they learn more about the actual cost of these life-changing treatments, which can add up to a whopping $80,000, even if they address serious medical concerns. You can't help but feel happy for the folks featured here, and the show will encourage you to take better care of your own mouth. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why people appear on TV series that deal with sensitive personal issues. If these dental procedures hadn't been offered for free, do you think these folks would have discussed their teeth so publicly? 

  • What message does this send about people's access to good dental care? Do you think this message is intentional? 

TV details

For kids who love reality shows

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