For much of her young life, Natalie Smirenski smiled with her mouth closed. Her top front teeth had grown in crooked and overlapped, and her canines were positioned so high up that she called them “vampire teeth.”
“I was very self-conscious,” the 12-year-old recalls.
“We knew from about age 7 or 8 that she’d need some help,” mom Marina Smirenski says of Natalie’s smile.
Two and a half years ago, the Smirenski family relocated from Northern Kentucky to Metro Atlanta, where dad Dimitri was already based as a Delta Air Lines pilot. Upon settling in Peachtree City, they immediately began looking for an orthodontist for Natalie.
After consulting church friends and posting a query on the local Facebook page, Marina decided on Dr. Michael Mahaffey and the team at Mahaffey Orthodontics, who came highly recommended by just about everyone.
“From the very first visit, Dr. Mahaffey and his staff were so excited to see us,” Marina says. “They knew immediately what they were going to do for Natalie, and that one day she’d have a beautiful smile.”
Natalie began her treatment in late 2016 with an expander. Full braces went on in May of 2017. Just 30 days later, her smile was already noticeably straighter, Marina says.
“It blew me away how fast it worked,” she says.
To perfect her smile and bite, Natalie wore the braces for another year and a half, finally getting them removed in early December 2018.
“I’m not used to smiling with my teeth showing, so I spend a lot of time looking in the mirror and practicing,” she laughs.
While Natalie’s beautiful new smile speaks for itself, there are plenty more reasons to love Mahaffey Orthodontics, Marina says.
“We love the facility and all that they have, especially for kids,” she says. “I homeschool four daughters and would often bring the other three with me when Natalie had appointments. They have games, movies, a library with books and plenty of tables and chairs so we would do school work while we waited.
“It’s great because I know I don’t have to put my life on hold when I go there,” Marina continues.
Natalie was pleased that the whole process of getting braces and having her teeth straightened proved so painless.
“It was a lot easier than I thought,” she says. “I thought it would be really sore, but it only hurt for maybe two days afterward. There were certain foods that I had to avoid and I had to brush in a certain way, but other than that it was perfectly pleasant.”
On the day she had her braces removed, Dr. Mahaffey’s team gave Natalie a goody bag filled with chewing gum, hard candy, popcorn and chips — all the things she couldn’t eat during the two years of her treatment.
Natalie was also excited to be part of the Mahaffey Rewards Program, which allows patients to collect points by meeting certain treatment goals and participating in various contests. She earned a total of 424 points, most of them from referring her dad to Dr. Mahaffey.
“My husband had been riding the fence about getting his teeth straightened, and being an adult there’s a little bit more of a challenge to it,” Marina says. “He was self-conscious about wearing braces, which made him a good candidate for Invisalign.”
Natalie gave her dad the courage to change his smile. Now Dimitri is almost done with Invisalign, which straightens teeth using clear alignment trays rather than metal braces and the results are “amazing,” Marina says. “I didn’t know they could do so much with someone who’s an adult.”
As for the reward points she’s earned, Natalie says she’ll probably trade them in on a Walmart gift card to buy Christmas presents for her sisters.
“I’m not sharing my popcorn, so I’ve got to do something nice for them at least,” she laughs. “I’m perfectly broke but I will still fill their stockings to the brim!”
Dr. Michael Mahaffey and the team at Mahaffey Orthodontics have been providing orthodontic care for 25 years. Located in Peachtree City at 268 S. Peachtree Parkway, Mahaffey Orthodontics specializes in braces and Invisalign® for children, teens and adults. Dr. Mahaffey recommends that children first visit the orthodontist at age 8 or 9 to see if any early treatment is warranted. Appointments are available by calling 770-487-6439.
Caption:Above: Natalie Smirenski is now fully smiling after braces at Mahaffey Orthodontics.