CREATING STUNNING SMILES THROUGH LONG LASTING FRIENDSHIPS
By: Kelley Tamplin
Seven-year-old Lydia Larkins, a 2nd grader, had just returned home from school on a September day in 2000. In typical Lydia-fashion, she quickly donned her Little Mermaid costume and ran outside to ride bikes with her brother and neighbors.
During an ensuing bike race, she inadvertently hit a curb and went head-first over her handlebars. Her face hit the ground upon impact. Her mother, Phylis, quickly ran over to discover her face scraped and her lip, gums and several teeth bleeding. She immediately called her husband, Jeff, and instructed him to meet them at the emergency room.
Once she was evaluated at the emergency room, the physicians determined that most of her injuries were dental. Phylis and Jeff, like most parents, wanted the best possible care for their young daughter. They called their long-time, family dentist, Dr. Glenn Alex, who met them at the emergency room right away. “It was such a relief to see Dr. Alex walk in that room, because I knew Lydia was in the best hands,” says Jeff.
Upon examination, Dr. Alex discovered that one of her front, upper teeth had been knocked loose and had shifted. This was a newly emerging, permanent tooth, and his priority was to stabilize and save it.
Lydia and her parents met Dr. Alex in his office the following morning. To enable healing, he stabilized her tooth by securing it to the adjacent teeth with a wire. Dr. Alex’s initial prognosis for her tooth was good. However, after 6 months, the tooth had abscessed, and she required a root canal. She continued to visit her endodontist for the next two years, but eventually, due to the extent of her original injury, the root of the tooth fractured, and they were forced to make the decision to remove it. It had been three years since Lydia’s accident, and she was now 10 years old.
Dr. Alex’s eventual goal for Lydia was an implant and crown to replace her missing tooth but, as he explained to her parents, Lydia was far too young for that at the time. They needed to buy some time, utilizing more temporary solutions, until her face had finished growing and she had reached maturity. This, he explained, would take teamwork, patience and perseverance, and that it did. Over the next seven years, this carefully guided process would include many, many appointments, numerous removable appliances, and eventually orthodontia to properly align her teeth and create the space needed for the implant and crown.
Thankfully, during this process, Lydia’s parents did not become discouraged or lose sight of their eventual goal. Along with Dr. Alex, Jeff was able to confer with his long-time friend, and NuCraft Dental Arts Owner, Terry Fohey. This, he says, made all the difference.
Jeff often stopped by the laboratory to share Lydia’s progress with Terry. Terry also has teenage daughters, and empathized with Jeff and Lydia. He advised Jeff in the same way that he would with his own daughters.
Terry also served as Jeff and Lydia’s advocate to facilitate the communication between all members of the dental team. Lydia’s team was a large one that included the general dentist, endodontist, orthodontist, oral surgeon and dental laboratory.
“I remember having dinner with Terry one night, and he advised me to think with the end goal in mind. That helped me focus and to accept the fact that this was a long-term process that would require patience and persistence and careful planning. He helped me manage my expectations,” Jeff says.
In 2010, a full 10 years after her accident, Lydia’s family finally received the long awaited news. Her dental team determined that she was ready to begin the implant and final restoration process. Through his many visits to both the dental office and laboratory, Jeff had discovered the precious worth of a beautiful smile and witnessed the true artistry of which NuCraft was capable.
Lydia’s natural teeth had enamel discolorations and pitting. After everything she had endured, Jeff felt Lydia deserved a stunning smile, similar to those he had seen displayed in photos at the laboratory and dental office. He also believed that her smile would serve as her introduction to the world and would be as important as any other tool when determining her future successes. Hopefully, her confidence would help illustrate her competence.
Therefore, despite their lack of dental insurance and the fact that all expenses would be paid out of pocket, her family made the decision to proceed with six veneers. Lydia’s final treatment plan would improve the esthetics of her entire smile rather than replacing just the one tooth. “As a father, I was determined to do whatever it took to give her a beautiful smile. It was very important to me, and I decided I would not let monetary reasons deter me,” says Jeff.
In 2011, they began the final restoration process. An implant was placed, and once that had healed, Dr. Alex and NuCraft Dental Arts created six beautiful veneers. The results were transforming. Despite the long, arduous road up to this point, Lydia and her parents are thrilled with the results.
Lydia literally grew up during her 11 years of treatment, and is now a beautiful young woman with a smile that matches her vibrant personality. As a senior at North Oconee County High School, Lydia may no longer wear Little Mermaid or Barbie costumes, but she remains Daddy’s little girl, and an appreciative one at that. Her father, throughout the process was, she says, her “quarterback.” “He has done so much. I can’t thank him enough.”
“For more information, you may contact NuCraft Dental Arts by phone at 800.241.8614, or visit on the web at www.nucraftdental.com, Glenn Alex is located at 140 Trinity Place in Athens, GA. 706-549-5678. You may visit his website at www.glennalex.com.”