I have always wanted a beautiful smile, but as a child my parents did not place a lot of importance in our teeth. We would visit the dentist once a year, he would do massive silver fillings, pat us on our heads, and send us home for another year.
My teeth were very crooked, and the dentist tried to correct the problem with serial extractions. He ended up taking out all four first bicuspids. The dentist never told my parents that I needed braces, so nothing was done to straighten my teeth. I was very self-conscious about my smile and hid my teeth to the point that kids in junior high teased me and asked if I had dentures.
I became a dental assistant while still in high school, and I loved chairside assisting. I have worked for general dentists, orthodontists and an oral surgeon. After years of experience I had the opportunity to become a dental assisting instructor for a local school district.
During my 24 years of teaching, I have seen a steady decline in the dental care my students receive; basically it is insurance driven care. It breaks my heart to see the lack of adequate care and the number of permanent teeth needlessly extracted. I know and understand the embarrassment these students feel when classmates practice charting their teeth. I share my story with my students to offer them hope. When I entered the field of dentistry, I received encouragement to have orthodontic treatment. I was told that I had two options; open the spaces and placing three-unit bridges on all four quadrants, or try to close the spaces and obtain an acceptable, but not ideal profile. I opted to close the spaces. I was never satisfied with the results and continued to be self conscious about my smile.
As an instructor I had the once in a life time opportunity to attend an “Over the Shoulder Full Arch Reconstruction” course taught by Dr. Jim Downs of the Dr. Dick Barnes Group. I was blown away by what I saw and I wondered if I could actually get the beautiful smile I had always wanted.
As my case was reviewed by Dr Downs and the Arrowhead Technical Advisor Team, the issue of a severe cant was addressed. As they discussed treatment options, I began to fear that my case was too complicated, but they presented a comprehensive treatment plan and encouraged me.
The structure the team followed was amazing. It was a complete team effort, from diagnosis to treatment. It was determined that I would require more than just maxillary reconstruction. In order to correct the cant it would be necessary to fully restore the mandibular arch also. As I began treatment, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude. Someone had finally addressed my concerns. Someone had finally presented a comprehensive plan including procedures I didn’t know were possible.
In my opinion the final results exceeded even the case presentation. I now have the smile I have longed for since junior high, if they could see me now!
Words cannot express my gratitude to Dr. Jim Downs and the Arrowhead family. I cannot begin to describe the long term affects of the treatment I received. Going through this experience has made me a better person; needless to say my self confidence has soared. It has changed my attitude toward my students, toward the type of dental assistants, hygienists, and dentists I want them to become. They gave me more than my smile that day, they gave me my future.