All in the Family


A Mother and Daughter Team Up for a Full Arch Reconstruction.
Some people say that they inherited their good teeth from their mothers. Like those people, I definitely got my good teeth from my mother. But I can’t say that genetics played a part. My mother, Aida Byrd, is the Ceramic Assistant Supervisor for Arrowhead Dental Laboratory in Sandy, UT. Last year, when the opportunity arose for me to get a full arch reconstruction, my mom literally made my teeth.

My mom has worked at Arrowhead for about 17 years. In 1999, she started in the waxing department. Next, my mom worked her way up to an Elite technician, and she is now a supervisor. I think she is a rock star! I think you’ll agree when you see the photos of the work she did on my teeth—they’re perfect! When Dr. Jim Downs, my doctor, placed the crowns, he didn’t have any problems with them. He didn’t have to adjust the fit, or fix the shape or size, or anything! They were perfect the way that my mom made them, which is awesome because she made them just for me.

Our Family History
When my mom started working at Arrowhead, it signaled the start of a new life for my family. Moving to the United States of America and working at Arrowhead was actually the third time my mom started a new life: the first was in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she was born; the second was in Germany, where she fled to just before the Bosnian War broke out in 1992; and the third was in United States, where she arrived as a refugee in 1999.

In Bosnia, my mom grew up in Bosanska Krupa, a town where my grandparents still live. My mom traveled to Germany with my dad to visit some relatives because there had been rumors of the war for a long time (although nobody really believed it). Two days after her visit, the Bosnian War began and its borders were on lockdown—no one could go in or out of the country anymore.

My mom got a job and worked to provide financial support for my family. During one period of time, my mom worked three jobs while she was pregnant with me. She sent money to our family in Bosnia to help them as much as possible.

My mom didn’t get to go to college because the war interrupted her life. The war and unrest caused a huge shift in her direction.

My mom stayed in Germany for almost eight years and did not return to Bosnia except for brief visits. In 1999, my mom was granted refugee status to the United States. At the time, I was about 18 months old and my parents didn’t speak English.

After moving to the Untied States, my mom discovered a program for dental technicians. The program director was from Denmark and was interested in helping European refugees. My mom was one of six attendees enrolled in the program, and dental technology soon became her passion. She loved the profession so much, she worked hard and was chosen as student of the year! The program director introduced my mom to Arrowhead and she applied for a job. A few weeks later, she was offered the job and she’s basically been there ever since. It’s amazing how my mom reinvented herself!

A Lifetime of Problems
With my mom working in the dental industry, she was able to help facilitate the reconstruction of my upper arch (more on that subject to follow). She wanted me to get my teeth done because they have been a problem for me for about as long as I can remember.

My teeth have always been very sensitive to hot and cold, and I was unable to eat certain foods because they hurt so much. Also, I was sick a lot as a child. For several years when I was young, I had strep throat about every other month. As a result, my doctors prescribed a lot of antibiotics for me and I developed white and yellow stains all over my teeth.

I also got cavities very easily. I didn’t eat a poor diet, but every time I went to the dentist, I had at least five cavities in my mouth. I was used to having dentists working in my mouth regularly.

When I was older I got braces, which I hoped would fix my teeth. But after I got the braces removed, I discovered that they had caused additional damage because my teeth were so sensitive.

My teeth also chipped easily and seemed to be deteriorating and getting smaller. One time, a molar broke when I was eating, but I didn’t realize it until my mom pointed it out. Then one of my canines broke. That was even more difficult for me because it was visible when I smiled. I didn’t want a broken front tooth!

My mom told me it didn’t look too terrible and that I should wait before fixing it. It didn’t need immediate attention, so I decided to wait. But I knew that a broken tooth was a problem that would need to be resolved eventually.

A Great Surprise
What I didn’t know was that my mom was working on a way for me to get my teeth fixed at Arrowhead. Arrowhead occasionally needs volunteers for the dental continuing education courses. Without my knowledge, my mom volunteered me as a patient and arranged for the procedure. When she came to me with her plan, I was so happy I almost started crying!

My teeth had caused some of my biggest insecurities in my life. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the upcoming procedure, so I didn’t talk about it with anyone outside of my family. But I knew that fixing my teeth would be a life-changing experience.

Originally, we planned just to get my front six teeth done. We thought that the rest of my teeth would be fine. But after Dr. Downs examined my teeth and took some impressions, he noticed that several of my back teeth had cracks or chips in them. We decided to do ten teeth on my upper arch instead of six, so that the only teeth left unrestored were my back molars. Even though my mom works in the dental business, I didn’t realize that anything like this could be done!

Dr. Downs is a great doctor. He was patient and thorough throughout the entire process. I had a lot to learn, and he helped me to understand how everything would work. For example, I wasn’t sure about the temporaries at first, but Dr. Downs explained to me that they would be bonded to my teeth.

My mom did all of the ceramic work on my restorations. I left most of the aesthetic decisions in her hands, because I trusted her judgment. She made the decisions, showed me her work, and then asked if I liked them. She worked extra hard (even on weekends) to make sure my teeth were perfect. After all, she knew she would have to look at them every day!

The Procedure
Dr. Downs started working on my mouth on the day of the first appointment. The main thing I felt nervous about was getting my mouth numb. However, once he numbed my mouth, I didn’t have any problems. Prior to my appointment, I made a playlist that was long enough for the entire procedure, I put my headphones on and I never once felt uncomfortable. The assistants gave me a pillow and a blanket and kept me comfy all day.

The first step of the full arch reconstruction was a three-day process. Dr. Downs prepped half my mouth on a Thursday, then finished prepping and placing the temporaries on a Friday. I came in a third time on Saturday to get my bite adjusted. Dr. Downs was amazing, and so was his chairside assistant, Ciara Halbleib. He massaged my cheeks and cracked jokes so the process didn’t feel like it was dragging on so much.

I didn’t have any problems wearing my temporaries. I wore those for six weeks, so not a very long time. I know some people wear temporaries much longer.

When it came time to seat my permanent teeth, the process was once again painless. The worst part was when Dr. Downs cracked off the temporaries, because it’s just a weird feeling. It sounds like they’re breaking your teeth!

When my mom made my teeth for the restorations, she apparently messed up on something up on one of my front teeth, so she had to remake the tooth. But instead of tossing the old restoration, she thought it would be funny to keep it and play a joke on me.

Dr. Downs showed me my new teeth on a model, so I could see them before he cemented them. On the model, I saw the regular tooth, but when he put them in my mouth to try them on, he put in the tooth that my mom had messed up!

Originally, I told my mom I wanted a tattoo on one of my back teeth. She didn’t do that. She put a tattoo of a big pink heart on the very front tooth! So they gave me the mirror and told me, “Wow, they look good! Your mom made them with love!” I was shocked when I saw the tattooed tooth! I remember saying, “This is a joke, right?”

But Dr. Downs kept up the joke, saying, “Your mom said you wanted a tattoo . . .” Finally they took the tooth with the pink heart out of my mouth and put the real one in, but I kept the tattooed tooth as a souvenir.

A Permanent Smile
When I saw my real restorations, I was so happy! My new teeth are beautiful! It was such a dramatic change that my mom said it even made my face look different. Before, my teeth were short and stubby and my gum line came down too far. But after I saw my new teeth in the mirror, I just kept smiling.

Because I hadn’t told anyone that I was getting my teeth done, my first post on Instagram was an image of me smiling with the caption, “Wow, Crest Whitening Strips really work!” Then, after getting lots of comments, I said, “Surprise! I got my teeth done!” I’ve never gotten so many compliments in my life!

Today, my mom still likes to see my smile whenever she gets a chance. Sometimes I’ll be eating dinner and my mom will tell me to smile. I usually say, “Not now, Mom, I’m eating dinner!” And she’ll say, “I just want to look at them!” She’s just so proud of them. And so am I.

Now that I’ve had my new teeth for a few months, seeing pictures of myself and feeling pretty is such a great change. It’s nice to smile and feel free to show my teeth. It was something that I used to worry about, and now I smile all the time in pictures. It’s given me a lot of confidence.

I am also more comfortable talking to people. When I tell people my story and what a change it has been for me, it’s close to my heart because my family was such an important part of the entire process.

I’m so thankful for my mom and for my stepdad, Tim Byrd, who also works at Arrowhead as a technician. He and my mom met at Arrowhead and got married soon afterward. He’s another influential person in my life, and he had professional input on my teeth, too. Having Tim in my life and seeing how good he is to my mom and all the great things that they both do for their kids is incredible. It teaches me how I should be to others. Without Tim in our lives, this wouldn’t have been possible. I’m thankful that he was a part of the process.

A Worthwhile Investment
My advice for other patients who are contemplating a full arch reconstruction would be to do it! It’s definitely worth the financial investment. Your teeth and smile are the most important parts of your face. A smile is what welcomes people in. It’s what makes people feel comfortable around you. If you want to feel a newfound confidence, it’s totally worth it.

The only thing I might have done differently during the process would be to wear a pair of sweatpants during the procedure to be a bit more comfortable. Other than that, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. I was super prepared. Everybody communicated clearly and made me feel at home.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my experience an 11! The procedure was amazing and it was comfortable too. I would recommend a full arch reconstruction to anybody! The experience was great for the entire family.

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Diana M. Thompson graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from Utah State University in Logan, UT. For the past 10 years, she has worked as a copywriter and editor for the natural products industry. She has written for several newspapers and edited a variety of full-length books and booklets. She specializes in nonfiction literature, particularly for the healthcare industry. Diana can be contacted at


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