Two young sisters have gotten brand new smiles, thanks to successful surgery to correct a rare dental condition that caused their gums to grow over their teeth.
Muriel Rayo, 12, and Nicole Rayo, 11, debuted their new smiles at a press conference Wednesday morning with the dentists and surgeons who treated them.
"I was happy and I was going to cry, but I couldn't," said Muriel. "I was so happy that I couldn't."
The girls, born with hereditary gingival fibromatosis, underwent surgery at Miami Children's Hospital to remove the excess gums and baby teeth, exposing their permanent teeth for the first time.
The sisters had never seen their permanent teeth before, and doctors said they had never seen anything like their conditions. Surgeon Thaddeus Boucree said cases like Muriel's and Nicole's are "basically one in a million."
"We see cases of gingival overgrowth, where the gums grow, but it's partial. It's really not to the [extent] or the severity of what these two girls had," said Dr. Maria Hernandez, post-grad director of the periodontal department at Nova Southeastern University.
Doctors credited the collaboration between several specialists and the Rayo sisters' positive attitudes with their success.
"Every time they came to the appointments they were so excited," said pediatric dentist Melissa Meincken.
But the girls' father said the years leading up to their transformation weren't all smiles.
"They always had problems at school," said father Norlan Rayo in Spanish. "They were made fun of."
When it comes to bullies, though, Muriel has some mature advice for anyone who gets picked on: "Keep going with your life, no matter what people say."
Braces are next for the pair, and they will have ongoing checkups for at least three years. Muriel said she isn't concerned and is ready to show the world her new smile.