New book about smiles shines a light on domestic violence.
by Karen Derr
Montrose dentist Dr. Randy Mitchmore has written a book titled The Gift of a Life Smile, published last month by Advantage. He wrote the book as a guide to achieving dental health, especially for those who may have had less-than-pleasant experiences with dentists in the past. While it is a compelling read for those seeking information about the latest in dental procedures, the account of Dr. Mitchmore’s own journey is the real page-turner.
Unflinchingly, he tells the very personal story of his boyhood with an abusive brother, his failed marriage in a small east-Texas town, and his ultimate success with his state-of-the-art dental practice in the heart of Montrose.
Mitchmore was born here in Houston, as he says, “inside the loop before there was a loop.” Raised in a lower-middle-class family, his father made a living supplying condom machines in bars and gas stations. His father’s job was only one of the churchgoing family’s “little secrets.”
A large part of the book is dedicated to the stories of his patients whose lives have been transformed by cosmetic dentistry. One patient, Norma, became very ill due to the poor condition of her mouth. The book tells of the steps Dr. Mitchmore took to cure her gum disease, correct her bite, and restore her smile through implants and porcelain veneers. Not only did Norma’s headaches, muscle problems, and bad posture improve, but her face actually gained vertical length. According to Mitchmore, “In effect, she’d gotten a dental facelift.” The dentist’s office walls are lined with large photos of patients like Norma who have had their smiles restored or enhanced with his advanced dental techniques. He often removes old fillings and caps to replace them with modern porcelain ones. In his book, he touches on the issues with metal fillings, but is quick to say not all metal fillings need to be replaced or pose a problem with mercury.
Dr. Mitchmore touts The Gift of a Life Smile as a guide to a whiter smile and inner happiness. That’s quite a tall order to fill, but Mitchmore is passionate about the importance of a beautiful smile. “The work that I do is truly transformational. So many people have been abused by their dentist. It’s been a painful experience or a demeaning experience,” says Mitchmore. He prides himself on being different. “I’ve been a perpetual student. I’m a master dentist and a master implant dentist. There are dramatic things we can do with no drilling and no shots.” He goes on to share, “I’m a geeky dentist, and I love the tech part of it.”
Dr. Mitchmore is also certified in I.V. sedation. He explains that it is the safest, most reliable way to do sedation. He says most patients would be surprised to learn that cosmetic dentistry is not a board-certified specialty. “Any dentist with a weekend course can call themselves a cosmetic dentist. That’s the scary part. I’ve done a tremendous amount of training to be called a master dentist.” He is also a member of American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
The Gift of a Life Smile includes the 10 most common mistakes people make when choosing a dentist. At the top of the list is neglecting to ask questions about the dentist’s training, and not looking at photos showing previous work.
Besides his passion for dentistry and making less-than-perfect smiles beautiful, Mitchmore is passionate about his volunteer work with the Give Back a Smile Foundation. The national organization works with American Academy of Cosmetic Dentists volunteers across the U.S. to give smiles back to women and men who have suffered damage to their teeth from domestic violence. Mitchmore’s own sister committed suicide as a result of an abusive husband, so it is a very important cause for him.
Survivors who are helped by the organization have often let their dental problems go untreated. “Dental is different from other injuries; bones and bruises will often heal without treatment. A broken tooth never will,” Dr. Mitchmore explains. Often the violent spouse has control of the finances, or shame has kept the victim from seeking treatment. As Mitchmore points out in the book, the smile is a person’s most basic communication and is universally recognized across all cultures. When a person stops smiling because of broken or discolored teeth, they lose an important link with those around them, thus alienating victims of violence even further.
Mitchmore says domestic violence is often a family’s dirty little secret. Having started college intending to become a minister and then losing his first dental practice after being outed in a conservative small-town community, Mitchmore sees parallels with the secrecy surrounding violence in the home and the secrecy many gays experience before coming out, especially in the past. “They are embarrassed about it, they don’t want to talk about it, and other people really don’t want to hear about it.” He goes on to say, “Domestic violence is rampant in the United States, and it crosses all social and economic boundaries.”
Dr. Mitchmore appears at a book-signing event on May 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tradition Bank, 5020 Montrose. The Uno de Mayo Celebration will feature a silent auction fundraiser for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation’s “Give Back a Smile” program. Food and wine will be served and donations accepted to benefit the foundation. The book The Gift of a Life Smile is available at Amazon and through various other booksellers.
Karen Derr is a Houston-area Realtor and the founder of Boulevard Realty. She writes and speaks about home and small-business topics.