My name is Anita and I want to share my impossible dream. When I was born I was born with a condition involving my teeth. My parents did not want me to face what my father had faced with having to have all his teeth pulled and get dentures. I appreciate so much all they did for me. The year was 1974 and they found two doctor's an oral surgeon and local orthodontist who decided to try and help me. They knew they had no knowledge on how to proceed on someone with my condition but wanted me to have a chance to have my own teeth. Without my parents love for me seeking out these doctor's I would still had my baby teeth as with this condition without dental intervention a person's baby teeth never fall out. My first surgery was over 6 hours to which they removed all my baby teeth plus 30 or more extra teeth and much bone and gums.
I was so excited about my surgery. I had such hopes that I would finally have a pretty smile. However, I was surprised to see when awakening that my gums were gone. I asked the orthodontist why my gums were gone. He told me they would grow back as I got teeth. I never got any gums back on top except for what surrounded my teeth but no gum ridge. I did however have a small amount on the bottom but only in front and none on the sides around my molars. So he was wrong gums don't grow back. I had braces on my teeth for 7 years and when removed my teeth were less than pretty. But they were functional. My teeth did not show when I spoke or smiled and some were loose from the beginning. I appreciate the oral surgeon and orthodontist efforts to try and help me, because this was not something they had ever seen let alone treat. Even my regular Dentist told me that I had to be satisfied that I would never have a"Colgate Smile" I didn't want to seem ungrateful for all the expense and love my parents put into helping me so I just quietly accepted the outcome. Because of my outgoing personality know one knew of my private pain and lack of confidence in how I looked. This was hard for me as I had such hopes during the years of my braces that I would finally someday have "real smile" I would pray in bed at night, “God please make me wake up with pretty teeth”
Over the years my teeth had really deteriorated. What gums I had receded possibly from age as well as anything. They were a mess because I could not get any dentists to help me. I tried on my own to keep them as clean as possible. I would brush them all the time and I think maybe I was brushing to hard as my gums that surrounded my teeth, seem to be receding even more. The times I did see a dentist I would be told such frightening things. For example: One Dentist told me my teeth are what actually gave my face its shape. That should I ever lose them my face would collapse. I was told also that I wouldn't even be able to wear dentures since I had nearly no gums to start with . Another Dentist told me that I had no bones in my face where your front teeth are and little to no gums so I could never wear a partial or have a bridge or dentures. Another time a Periodontist told me my bones had small tiny holes throughout and would never hold an implant. Believe me this was a nightmare for me. I was left with a feeling of total helplessness. Many nights I would lay awake fearing what I would look like in a few years. Unfortunately I was becoming very ill because of the condition of my teeth. I was afraid to have anything done and was constantly in pain and suffering.
For years began to rely on Motrin for inflammation. Two teeth just fell out and two were so infected and loose that eating was so hard to do. January 2005, we had an ice storm and all the power was out all over town. I lit many candles and the flickers against the walls sent me into a horrific migraine aggravated by the infection in my mouth. Every time I moved my head I would literally get sick. Finally my sweet husband came to me with worry in his voice said, "Enough is enough you must do something and do it now, I do not want to lose you" I said, "What???? What can be done for me? There is no help for me." He told me to get on the computer and look for something and that we needed to pray and believe. Because of his insistence he pushed me to finally get something done. I will be forever grateful to him.
I picked up my bible and it was a translation that is fun for me to read. It was the New Living Bible and I read (which reads just a bit different than the King James but spoke so deeply to my heart). Mark 11:22-24
22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Have faith in God. 23 I assure you that you can say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and your command will be obeyed. All that's required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. 24 Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it. It said to believe and DO NOT doubt so that is what I did and my husband believed with me. So I sat in front of my computer and prayed for God to make a way where there is no way, I began my search.....
First, I was told I needed a Prosthodontist? I found on the internet a PDF file that was written about a woman with the same birth defect. I was so jealous as I read this story, I thought wow if I could only see this team of Doctors. I saw at the top an e-mail address and decided to just write to this Doctor. I thought as I was writing this how silly it was because I had no idea where this Doctor was and how she could help me, yet in desperation I wrote her anyway. Her name is Dr. Vicki Petropoulos, I told her my story and she said, "Don’t do anything until I get back with you" Which I thought rather odd but when you are believing God like I was you are willing to trust and wait. Never in even my hopes or dreams did I know that there was someone like the man that was soon to become my doctor. His name is Dr. Thomas Balshi founder of Prosthodontics Intermedica Dental Implant Center. The Clinic however, is in Fort Washington, PA. This Doctor wanted to see me and we went on April 11, 2005 for my first visit.
I live in Ohio and the drive took us 12 hours. I saw Dr. Thomas Balshi and a team of visiting Doctors, that were attending his continuing education classes that day. Dr. Balshi's credentials are off the charts; he is world famous and the best in his field. I was sitting in the chair after they had run a number of medical tests, waiting to find out if he would be able to do something for me, I could look out the window onto the fountain. I couldn't help that the tears were so close to the surface. I kept quoting the scripture in Mark 11:22-24 over and over.
Still I couldn't help but be anxious. I didn't want them to tell me that I wouldn't be a candidate. Suddenly Dr. Balshi came in and told me that they were going to help me, and that for the first time in my life I might smile with my teeth showing. I began to cry and cry. Apparently all the horror stories I had been told by all the other dental professionals was not true, the new ICAT scan showed what x-rays never could, that my bones were fine and there was hope for me. Just about that time all the team of Doctor's came in and saw my wet face. I told one of the visiting Doctor's that they were happy tears. Dr. Petropoulos took time out of her busy schedule to be there to meet me that day too. When I looked into her eyes I cried even harder as I didn't know how I could thank her enough for pointing me to Dr. Balshi.
I told Dr. Balshi what my Dentist had said to me as a teenager about never having a Colgate smile so I should just accept it. He threw back his head and laughed and said, “Well we will just see about that!”
I was told that for a perfect facial symmetry I would need jaw surgery but that he could achieve the same affect with the prosthetics. My face appeared to be collapsed due to the shape of my teeth and lack of gums. My chin nearly met my nose. I asked the Doctor if it would be like the Extreme Makeover's on TV. His answer was nope this would be a Supreme Makeover that it will be better as it is based on science. He said that I would look beautiful and that I will have finally have my dream smile. I was told it would be implants and a permanent smile called "Teeth in a Day".
On May 9, 2005 I had surgery for 6 hours, Dr. Balshi and a team of nurses, doctor’s and dental fabricators were with me that day, as well as Dr. Petropoulos. They were also filming it for research. All my teeth were extracted and 8 implants on top and 6 implants on the lower were placed. I was given temporary immediate “Teeth in a Day” beautiful teeth which were attached to the implants with gold screws. Which the flyer said, Have you ever dreamed you could go to sleep and wake with a beautiful smile. Which is what I use to pray for.
My temporary teeth
On October 20, 2005 I went to my Doctor's and my supreme makeover is finished. They were so good to me and worked very hard to make sure my smile was beautiful. In 46 years I finally can smile a real smile!!!! Because of Dr. Petropoulos taking the time out of her busy day and caring enough to answer an e-mail of a woman she did not know and pointing me to Dr. Balshi, Dr. Wolfinger and the team at PI, I now have my impossible dream. In my heart they are human angels that God sent to me when I needed them the most. Dr's Balshi and Wolfinger are truly superhero's. Below is photo's of that wonderful day. There are no words to thank them enough.
Not only is this group amazing but also they really have a love for people and care. Never have I walked into the office without being greeted with smiles and warmth. I was given a gift when this Doctor came into my life. I hope that his research with my case will help others out there with this rare disorder.