Dr. Jeff Martin and Dr. Will Taylor have each provided free complete smile makeover services to two lucky patients recently. We were interested to learn how this came about and what motivates these two exceptional doctors to provide superior dental service to the winners of their Free Smile Makeover. We sat down with Dr. Jeff Martin, founder of Martin-Taylor Dentistry, and asked him about it.
How did you and Dr. Taylor come up with the idea to do these smile makeovers?
We were brainstorming ways we could serve our community. We decided to pick a couple of patients that would have no way to have their dental needs met unless we donated our services. We thought about other makeovers we had seen where someone loses weight with the help of a motivational trainer or they get their hair and makeup done by professionals. It can really change someone’s life for the better when they get help they otherwise couldn’t afford.
What was your motivation?
I guess our motivation is simply that it is the right thing to do. We feel it is important to give back to our community. Since we are dentists, providing free dental care to the under-served is one way we can do this. Although we donate financially to church and other various charities, our main charity is giving people dental care who otherwise couldn’t afford it. I have traveled to Brazil and Mexico to do dental work, but feel it’s just as important to provide the same opportunities to our local community. It does cost us some money, but we think the good that we do for other people plus the goodwill it generates, makes it more than worthwhile. It also is just fun! The people we selected were so very appreciative.
What specifically led you to choosing Cassandra?
In the application we asked, “What don’t you like about your smile? What barriers have you encountered to having the smile that you dreamed?” Cassandra wrote that she didn’t really like her smile. Since having children, she’d lost most of her back teeth. It made it hard for her to eat. She did not have any molars, so was only able to chew with her front teeth. She was experiencing pain. Her front teeth were also discolored and had shifted. She wrote that she missed being able to smile. Cassandra hadn’t been to the dentist in two years since she didn’t have any dental insurance. I also just liked her personality. I thought she would work well with our office and that she would be conscientious and not miss her appointments.
Tell us about her first visit to your office.
Last November we had Cassandra come in to see if she was a good candidate. I did a full exam and took a panorex to see what needed to be done. Cassandra was missing a lot of her back teeth. In fact, she only had one remaining back tooth and it needed a filling. I determined she also needed a root canal, a build up and a crown on a lower tooth, a couple of partials and some deep cleanings. We decided to bleach her teeth as well. We told her right then at that first appointment that she was chosen to receive the makeover. I discussed a treatment plan with her that would include the complete exam, x-rays, bleaching, one filling, a root canal, a build up and crown, deep cleanings, and the partial dentures. All told it was about $7,800 worth of service.
In what order did you address her treatment plan?
At that first appointment in November we did the full exam and x-rays and also took impressions for her bleaching trays. We wanted her to start bleaching right away. In early December I did a root canal, built the tooth up and did a crown prep on a lower right tooth. The next time she came in was in early January. At that visit I did the one filling that she needed and I cemented the crown on the tooth that I had prepped at her last visit. In late January, I did root planing and scaling (deep cleaning) on her lower teeth. Also during this visit I took impressions for the partial dentures Cassandra needed. In early February we did the upper deep cleanings. We also did an adjustment fitting of her new partials. I delivered the partials to her on February 23rd and had her return the next day for some final adjustments.
You mentioned she had pain. Was that addressed right at the start?
Yes. The root canal we did addressed one area of pain. She also had an infection in her gum tissue that caused her discomfort. For that she was put on antibiotics and we did a deep cleaning. She had calcium deposits down underneath the gum line which caused a localized infection around the gum tissue. If I had just put her on antibiotics, it would have improved a little bit, but it wouldn’t have solved the problem fully. I needed to do a deep cleaning while she was numb in order to clean all the deposits off. Once we got everything cleaned, got her flossing, brushing, and coming in on a regular basis for professional cleanings, she has been able to maintain good dental health and no longer has pain.
What do you think caused most of Cassandra’s dental issues?
As is often the case, it’s probably just lack of good dental hygiene. So often we see that folks either don’t know how to properly care for their teeth or they lack the means to get comprehensive dental care. Cassandra probably didn’t have dental care as a child and that just continued into adulthood. The lack of dental care as a child is more than just not seeing a dentist, but also not learning how to properly care for your teeth. I’ve also noticed a mindset that some folks have of not implementing any preventative dentistry, but only responding to emergency situations. If there’s a problem tooth, just have it pulled. Even some dentists, who are unable or unwilling to do root canals, will just pull a tooth rather than fix the problem.
Is it a dramatic improvement?
Yes, it is pretty dramatic. Cassandra was missing all her back teeth, so when she smiled, it was just this dark void in there so she avoided smiling. After all the work we did, the change is significant. I think Cassandra was pretty wowed. That’s the heartwarming thing, she really appreciates the smile makeover services we provided. For us, just seeing her smile again has made it all worthwhile.