Dear DLN Community,
Surreal. How else can I describe how our world and way of life has been rocked in the last few weeks?
I’m extremely concerned about the potential impact on the people we help. Dentists are postponing all but emergency treatment for the foreseeable future and who knows how long afterward. Despite my concerns, I just read the following case story that gives me hope and optimism. It’s a little long, but please take the time to read and see how our amazing volunteers change the world; they are true heroes.
Chloe is a young woman who has experienced significant dental challenges as a result of a rare medical issue diagnosed in 2011—Scleroderma, a connective tissue disease that has caused skin tightening and has severely impacted her dental health. Her jaw gradually shifted over a few years until it no longer lined up and she could not close her mouth. She was only able to chew on her back two teeth, making eating difficult and causing her to choke frequently. Chloe had to take tiny bites and eat very slowly.
After meeting with a specialist in 2014, Chloe learned she was born without part of her jaw bone. She needed comprehensive dental treatment to address these problems but sadly was unable to afford it. While Chloe had dental insurance, it did not cover the extensive treatment she needed. She can work part-time, but still relies on food stamps and help from her mother to make ends meet. Though she was desperate for help, it seemed Chloe had nowhere to turn.
Thankfully, Chloe was connected with a wonderful team of DDS volunteers who donated their services to help Chloe. A clinic donated space for the surgery and two of its oral surgeons assisted a DDS volunteer oral surgeon in removing two teeth and releasing her tissues so she could open her mouth wider. Next, a volunteer general dentist restored nine teeth and she began the first phase of orthodontic treatment with a DDS volunteer orthodontist.
As a result of the initial surgery, Chloe’s bottom jaw moved forward which caused pain in her chin and a drooling problem. The DDS volunteer oral surgeon did surgery to move her chin back. During the nine-hour surgery, the DDS volunteer took apart her skull to place a TMJ prosthetic joint donated by the Clinic. Thanks to this incredible team, Chloe received more than $60,000 of donated treatment!
Chloe commented on her appreciation for this life-changing gift.
“DDS and (the volunteers) have been lifesaving and a blessing in my life. I appreciate all the doctors and DDS have done for me. DDS has been tremendous. I love how they have been there from start to finish during my treatment. I now have a beautiful smile and more confidence, and my work and everyday interactions in life are better due to the treatment I have received from the wonderful doctors and DDS.” – Chloe, DDS patient
Fred Leviton, President and CEO of Dental Lifeline Network