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$500 College Scholarship Criteria

  1. Must be a graduating senior who is applying to college
  2. Must be a current or previous patient of Dr. Sanford’s
  3. Must write a paper, one to two pages, any genre, on “The Power of a Smile.” CREATIVITY RULES!
  4. Entries must be original work, accompanied by a contest cover sheet which is completed and signed by both the applicant and parent.
  5. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ON YOUR ESSAY! You will be disqualified if you do so. Your cover sheet will identify the essay as yours.
  6. Submit entries by mail to:

    Sanford Orthodontics/Barbara Cimino
    1353 Prince Rodgers Ave.
    Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Deadline for all submissions: Monday, April 29, 2019

For anonymity each submission will be assigned a number and our selection committee will review each essay. The chosen winner will receive the Scholarship during the High School’s Award Night.

Click here to download the Scholarship Application

2018 $500.00 Scholarship Winner
Kate Gallagher


The Power of a Smile

It is often said that the eyes are the window to the soul. But I believe that this statement is overlooking one thing: the smile. The smile of pure love and joy is what brightens the eyes makes the skin glow, and rejuvenates every person to an almost childish place of happiness. To me, a smile is the first thing I notice about someone, and one of the most attractive features.

This is why I find one of the saddest things to be the insecurity that some have surrounding their smile. When someone pulls a hand up to hide when they laugh, looks down as joy comes over them until the smile fades from their face, or even bats an eye over their own self-consciousness when they would otherwise be filled with happiness, my heart breaks. How can someone possibly feel bad about the one thing that makes every single person so wildly beautiful?

But then, I guess, it doesn’t take much. One comment to a child about buck teeth or having a “big” smile can steal the innocence of pure joy forever. It only takes one thoughtless word said to someone to create an insecurity around their smile that can be very difficult to reverse. However, this is Dr. Sanford’s specialty.

When I see pictures of myself as a child, I’m reminded of all the years that I thought my front teeth were way too big and not quite white enough. I would sometimes smile without showing my teeth to compensate for these small insecurities. One time, someone close to me commented that I was giving them a sneaky smile, like I was “up to no good.” I didn’t mean for it to look like a smirk, it was just how I smile in a small way to cover my big crooked front teeth.

I started staring at the floor when I smiled about little moments, or covering my mouth when I laughed too hard. Dr. Sanford and his staff not only straighten teeth, but rebuild the confidence in their patients. Each time I walked into the office, I was greeted with countless smiles and a chocolate chip cookie. Everyone in the office knew each patient by name, making us all feel more welcomed, respected, and comfortable. Going to the orthodontist was like going to see a bunch of friends dressed in blue.

When I had appointments, the dental assistants would talk to me, always remembering my involvement in music, sports, 4H, and other activities. They would ask about school and how my extracurriculars were going, showing that I was cared for and appreciated, and treated like a friend that they only got to see every couple months. There would always have good music, dance parties, corny jokes, and lots of laughter. Smiles, no matter the shape or size, were freely expressed in Dr. Sanford’s office; but to make sure, the infamous “smile-maker” tool could be used to guarantee a laugh during every appointment.

I only had two years of appointments, as Sanford Orthodontics works quickly, but in that time, Dr. Sanford and his staff not only straightened my teeth, they also built my confidence. Even when I had wires on my teeth, I began smiling more freely and even liked the different colored rubber bands that I could use, often matching them to holidays or seasons. I began to appreciate the smile I had, and realized that my smile brought out my dimples and eyes.

Looking back, I always saw pure beauty in others when they smiled, but not in my own. Over the past few years, I have attended mission trips with my youth group. We often work with children from underprivileged backgrounds and broken homes. It is difficult to imagine the hardships that these children face each day, one young boy even describing how his blind grandfather would walk him to school each day, then walk home alone by memory and listening to his surroundings. However, I always noticed that the children never seemed to be brought down by this. The brightest smiles I have ever seen were from kids who, by some standards, would have every justification to be angry or upset. I would notice their beautiful smiles, and couldn’t help but smile myself.

Those pure, bright smiles are often even contagious, and because of Dr. Sanford, I began to see the beauty in my own smile. When I finally got my braces off and walked the red carpet, my smile came through more often than ever and my laugh was never hidden behind a raised hand. It was even a little bit sad leaving the office that day. I was glad to have the “smile of my life,” but would honestly miss my friends at Sanford Orthodontics. I would miss the welcoming atmosphere, endless laughs, and constant smiles. However, I knew that with my perfectly aligned teeth and newly instilled confidence in both my smile and myself, which I gained from the staff, I was ready to grab some popcorn and take on the world, dimples and all.

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