Though our practice bears the name of another city, the dentists at Smile Columbia Dentistry have great affection for Augusta, Georgia. In fact, many of our patients are Augusta residents seeking the best regional cosmetic dentistry care available.

Accomplished cosmetic dentists Dr. Paul Hahn and Dr. Adam Hahn understand the value of a beautiful, healthy smile to both your overall well-being and your sense of self. They also understand the benefits inherent in the act of smiling itself.

In that spirit, and in the spirit of the holiday season, we want to share the following story that recently emerged from Augusta and received national attention. It has nothing to do with porcelain veneers or dental implants or teeth whitening. But it made us smile, and we think it will make you smile too.

An End and a Beginning

After his wife died suddenly in March, Dan Peterson, 82, of Augusta grew increasingly depressed. Peterson has children and grandchildren, but all are grown, and none live nearby.

In a profile for CBS News’s “A More Perfect Union” series, Peterson said he spent the days since his wife’s passing simply staring out the windows of his home into the yard. For six months, Peterson said, he felt purpose and a will to live progressively slipping away.

When CBS’s Steve Hartman asked, “Were you just waiting to die?”, Peterson replied in the affirmative.

Then Peterson went grocery shopping.

A Chance Encounter

Peterson was grinding his way through one of his least-favorite chores at an Augusta Publix in late September when he passed a little girl who sat in a shopping cart. The store’s surveillance cameras captured the girl, Norah Wood, newly 4 years old, reaching out to Peterson.

“Hi old person, it’s my birthday today,” the girl called out. Norah’s mother, Tara Wood, said she was initially embarrassed and tried to move on after chatting for a few seconds. Norah, however, demanded a hug and a photo.

A grinning Peterson obliged. “That day, I was going through a day of self-pity,” he told CNN. “I was just feeling sorry for myself. But she changed it.”

A Renewed Smile

Tara Wood, as detailed in a local Fox News report, shared the encounter on Facebook. She noted that her daughter had passed multiple shoppers but seemed “magnetically drawn” to Peterson. Norah, according to her mother, even went to sleep holding the picture of the unlikely pair.

An acquaintance of Peterson’s saw the Facebook post and shared Peterson’s contact information with Wood, adding, “That’s the first time I’ve seen that man smile since his wife died.” He may not have stopped smiling since.

The Woods soon paid Peterson a visit. “The whole time, Norah was just curled in his lap like she’s known him forever,” Wood said. The Woods and Peterson spent a day around Thanksgiving together, and they visit regularly.

When asked if he feels like he has a revitalized sense of purpose, Peterson told CBS: “Of course—Norah, watching her grow up. I know I made room in my heart for a lot more.”

If you’re considering treatment to restore your smile, please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry or call us at (803) 781-9090 to schedule your consultation. Our compassionate, experienced cosmetic dentists welcome patients from the greater Columbia, SC, and Augusta, GA, areas and beyond.