My Untraditional, Chaotic, and Beautifully Unique, Unpaved Path into Dentistry

By: Dr. Bri Torgerson

A smile is so underrated, yet so widely sought after. The international language for happiness. A signal for a truce.

In an instant, a  smile can be calming, reassuring, and safe. Even thinking about a smile, most of us think of someone we love and can feel our dopamine increase. Just thinking about a smile can make us smile. A smile can induce laughter and bliss. 

About Bri Torgerson

Hi there! I’m Dr. Bri Torgerson and I am a General Dentist. My goal is to inspire pre-dental students, dental students, and new grads but also to have each of you learn from the mistakes that I’ve made (and that I’m not done making I’m sure)! I’m so excited to share my journey and my experiences with you all.  

I’m originally from a small town in Minnesota but I call myself an American mutt. I’ve lived in the foothills of The Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, the heat of Scottsdale,  Arizona, the big city of Los Angeles, California, and sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

My Journey to Dentistry

My journey to being a dentist isn’t the most conventional one. I don’t come from a family of dentists, I don’t come from a family of doctors, I don’t have anyone who was able to help me and guide me through the ebbs and flows of the processes that I’ve been through since starting my journey. 

My family and I didn’t have much growing up (although they’d never let us even get a sliver of the feeling of having less. As far as we knew, we had everything we could ever want).

I had the massive blessing of watching my parents work odd jobs and put themselves through college, one at a time, in order to provide more for my sisters and me. I say blessing because watching my parents work hard has been the blueprint for the work ethic I’ve had to have in order to fulfill my own personal life dreams.  

Eventually, I was able to get braces and that’s when my life changed. I had been bullied in school and didn’t have the greatest self-confidence (honestly, still something I struggle with). When I got my braces off, I felt so happy. I felt like, not only did my self-confidence grow, but I felt like my smile was radiating to those around me.

I had asked my Orthodontist if I could watch him work and, like the awesome guy he was (Hi,  Dr. Loveless!), he let me see some ‘Before and After’ photos. This day changed my life and I get the same feeling now as I did when I was thirteen years old.

These people in their ‘Before’ photos looked like they were TOLD to smile. The kind of smile you make when you’ve had a bad day and someone asks, “Why don’t you smile?!”. It feels forced and phony.

But, their  ‘After’ photos were something else. The feeling I had when I looked at myself after braces, that radiating sense of joy, you could feel it through the computer screen. These patients looked like they were smiling, not because they were told to smile for a picture, but because their confidence had been restored. They WANTED to smile!

Their lives had changed, they were happier, and it made ME happier. At that moment, I thought, “If I can make others happier, and more confident, the people around them will be happier,  too.” I didn’t know what it entailed, and I didn’t know how I was going to do it; I  just knew I wanted to make the world a happier place and I wanted to do it by helping people smile.

I think I so desperately wanted to be happy and confident myself that I thought if I could make others feel that way,  maybe some of that sunshine and joy would rub off on me, too. From that moment on, everything I did, I did to aid in my goal to be a dentist. 

Hard Work and Persistence Pays Off

I’ve learned a lot over the last almost 20 years since that day at the orthodontist’s office, and I have failed so many times.

People might look at my life and say how lucky I am and although I do feel as if some luck plays a part in anyone’s life, I also feel like the harder you work, the more persistence you have, the more opportunity you give for ‘luck’ to find you.

I have a lot of anxiety and fear that I struggle with but over the years I’ve learned that life will pass no matter how you spend that time so you might as well do things scared.

Fear is such a natural feeling to have, but it’s not a reason NOT to do things that will propel you towards a goal, a dream, or an experience.

There are plenty of obstacles that most of us have faced or will face that will get in the way, and I hope I can serve as a source of information and light for those who read and I look forward to our monthly time together!

Photo by Elina Fairytale

Dr. Bri Torgerson

Dr. Bri Torgerson

Hi! I’m Dr. Bri Torgerson. I’m a General Dentist and I’ve had a long journey to dental school, through dental school, and life after dental school. I graduated from undergrad at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2014 and dental school at The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC in 2020. I love my Faith, traveling, baking, cooking, volunteering, coffee, and being with my family including my basset hound, Wilbur. My favorite teams are the Minnesota Vikings, the St. Louis Blues, and the St. Louis Cardinals. A career goal I have is to do a mission trip once and year. One of my life goals, outside of my career, is to visit every National Park in the United States.