Words From Your Peers

From Lost Tooth to Dental Dreams: A Journey of Transformation

Posted by Rafa Hossain on July 27, 2023

Coming back home with a bag of ice and ice cream, 7-year-old me never would have imagined the years of treatment and surgeries I would endure from losing one baby tooth. A year later, I found myself at the orthodontist’s office, baffled by tooth #8’s stubborn refusal to come out. Despite undergoing braces and numerous procedures to correct my tooth’s position, sadly, this problem remained unsolved. For six years this tooth was stuck inside my mouth. When I was 12, my dentist decided it was time to stop trying and opt for extracting the tooth instead. This meant I’d go through middle school and high school with a missing tooth, wearing a flipper (partial denture) to disguise it.

This was probably my deepest secret ever. For years it brought my self-esteem down, robbed me of my smile, and caused immense discomfort. Although a flipper is not the most ideal thing to have, I never let that stop me from accomplishing my successes. I pushed myself to engage in public speaking, community engagement and the performing arts. Focusing on my work ethic and interests is what truly helped me cope. I continued to keep my hopes high and reminded myself that this situation was temporary. Up until that moment, I had no interest in dentistry. But this next part of my journey changed my whole perspective of this field. 

Restoring my missing tooth with a dental implant was the main desire I had at the time. But as usual, this turned into a long process. Age was a significant factor since being so young meant my jawbone structure was still growing and not ready for an implant. As I approached the age of 18, I actively sought many consultations with different types of specialists. Being introduced to a periodontist, cosmetic dentist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon helped to broaden my scope toward dentistry. Aside from learning about these new careers, I also learned how extensive my case became. To my shock, I discovered that my upper jaw suffered from major bone loss and gum tissue deficiency. My surgeon told me I would need to undergo a bone and gum graft before obtaining an implant. These procedures would help create new bone and tissue to provide a better base for the dental implant. This was a huge pill to swallow, but I quickly became interested and wanted to learn more. In my free time, I found myself watching videos and doing research on these procedures. Never was I truly this invested in something relating to dentistry before. 

My outlook in dentistry quickly began to change. I was more attentive to my case and appreciative toward my dentist. After my initial bone graft surgery, I once again felt hopeful with this new journey. Several months later, I was finally approved to get my dental implant. The last thing to do was place a crown on the implant; I remember this appointment very vividly. As my dentist was getting the final camera shots of my transformation, I was beyond excited to see the result. I looked into the mirror and was speechless. Everyone had done an exceptional job, and it was impossible to tell if there was ever a missing tooth. Finally, after 13 years, I felt like a new person. 

Dentistry has profoundly transformed me, inspiring me to create the same impact for others. I wish to encapsulate the same care and knowledge my dentists had for me and deliver that service to future patients. During my years in undergrad, I’ve striven to prepare myself professionally and academically for dental school. Clubs and organizations I’m involved in have enabled me to develop leadership and communication skills. Taking on roles of a mentor, secretary and service chair, I learned valuable lessons in teamwork and assumed responsibility for helping my peers. As a predental student, I value all opportunities and resources I come across. This includes shadowing, mentorship, volunteering and academic support. I’ll admit it is very overwhelming to balance academics while working to become a competitive applicant, but the passion I have for dentistry is what keeps me going.

In retrospect, this unfortunate situation of losing a tooth turned out to be a transformative journey. It serves as the driving force behind my current path. I now believe that experiences in life help shape you to become the person you are today. In the future, I wish to take my experience to a professional level by becoming a dentist. As I anticipate the upcoming application cycle, I hope my story inspires others to recognize how hardships can serve as a catalyst for motivation. 

About Rafa Hossain:

Rafa Hossain

Rafa Hossain
Predental Student 
University of Florida

Rafa Hossain is projected to complete a degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Florida in 2024. She chose to pursue dentistry after facing her own dental issues and realizing how impactful this profession can be. Regarding her predental journey, Ms. Hossain has been part of a Predental Society and contributed as an ambassador after participating in the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) in 2022. Ms. Hossain is set to apply to dental school in summer of 2025. Not only is she a first-generation college student, but she will also become the first dentist in her family.