North Branford Boy Dreams Of New Smile, Needs Reconstructive Surgery

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He’s an animal lover, rock climber and rebel-rouser – but Nicholas Grant’s dream is to look like other seven year olds.

“I like to take pictures and I don’t want them to look like I have creepy smile,” said Grant.

The North Branford boy was born with a rare condition called congenital facial paralysis.

“One eye came out one eye opened, one eye closed and his smile was crooked and we weren’t real sure why,” said Jadeane Grant, Nicholas’s mother.

The second-grader can flash a lopsided grin on the left, but is paralyzed down the right side of his face.

“I want to have a regular smile because my smile goes up here, but it doesn’t go up here,” Nicholas said.

He’s hoping that will be fixed after major smile surgery this Monday.  It’s the second of two procedures by Dr. Tessa Hadlock of Mass Eye and Ear.

“This surgery coming up is something that takes us six, sometimes eight hours to perform. It’s delicate. It can fail in the immediate. It’s the kind of thing where every few hours the nurses monitor it to make sure there’s not a problem. It’s just a trickier thing,” said Dr. Hadlock.

The operation has an 80 percent success rate so it might not work.

“It’s hard because you just don’t know and are we doing this for us? Are we doing this for him? This is for him. This is his decision. I love him no matter what. His smile is beautiful to me, no matter what,” said Nicholas’s mom.

But Nicholas is happy to take his chances so he can hopefully enjoy the carefree life of a kid.

“Like having a good time and not feeling like people are thinking about my smile,” he said.

Dr. Hadlock said the smile surgery won’t fix Nicholas’s inability to close his right eye. That would require additional operations that aren’t routinely performed on the general public, said Hadlock.

For now, Nicholas will sport sunglasses to protect his eye.

More information on facial paralysis can be found here:

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