Tamyka, 16, is a smart and accomplished girl who is mature beyond her years. But when it came to feeling confident, one thing always held her back in life – her smile.
“I don’t think it’s something other people notice, but I’ve been self-conscious about my smile for a long time and it’s really bothered me,” said Tamyka, whose sickle cell disease affected the development of her teeth and bones.
“Being self-conscious has been limiting and a huge setback for me, which is why I wished to have beautiful smile because I know it’s something that will last forever,” she continued.
To grant Tamyka’s wish, Make-A-Wish Arizona approached Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. The team offered to help with the process; and after meeting Tamyka and hearing her story, they decided to cover 100 percent of the costs.
“This was such a unique way for us to give back to our community,” said orthodontist Dr. Tal Masserman. “Being part of this wish and seeing the results of what we’re able to do makes it all worthwhile and that’s what we’re all about.”
“As a pediatric dentist, kids like Tamyka are the reason I chose this career,” said Dr. Abraham Itty. “Tamyka’s medical condition is something that not a lot people can see from the outside, but I can tell she’s been through a lot and we were so excited to do something positive for her and grant her wish for a beautiful smile.”
Tamyka’s “smile team” determined that braces would be the best start to her wish, with additional work on her teeth and jaw to help make sure the transition was permanent.
Over the past year and a half, Tamyka returned to the orthodontist every two months for follow-up appointments, where she observed the changes in her smile.
“I’ve known Tamyka since she made her wish two years ago and it’s brought me so much joy to see this full circle and watch Tamyka really transform,” said volunteer wish granter, Nicole Buratovich.
“The day she finally had her braces removed was special for everyone who was involved,” she continued. “The moment she held the mirror up to her face and saw her new smile, I knew her wish was granted.”
Tamyka will always have to deal with the doctors and hospital visits that come with her sickle cell diagnosis, but her new smile gave her the confidence to try out for a role in her upcoming school play - a role she secured even before the braces were 100 percent off.
“I’m putting myself out there and doing more things because I’m not insecure or self-conscious anymore,” said Tamyka.
“At first, I thought my wish might not make a big a difference in my life, but I was really surprised to see how much more confident I became. As time progressed, I saw the changes and realized I’m so much happier,” she continued. “This is something will stay with me for a lifetime.”