Pro Bono Patient Care

 

Paula has been a patient at Capitol Dental since 2010 and has been bringing her son since 2001. She works with children on a daily basis and wants to be a positive influence in their lives. She knows the best way to do this is to set a good example. In 2012 she began her journey to improve her health with changes in diet and exercise. Since that time she has lost over 140 pounds and reduced the medications she is taking. After many discussions with her as a Team we decided to help Paula achieve a level of oral health that would support all the changes she is making to her overall health. During 2014 we invested over 6 months and $8400 to removed hopeless teeth, save and restore vital teeth and give Paula back her smile with a new denture. She has shared with us a renewed confidence in her health and the excitement and passion she has to teach kids about the importance of oral and overall health.

The following story is from an interview our staff had with Paula, who requested we use her real name and real story so that she might be an influence for others to pursue better health.

“You have a beautiful smile, Miss Paula.”

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Those simple words from her pre-school student, were at one point, unimaginable for Miss Paula.  My hope is that her story inspires you, as it has our team at Capitol Dental.  Miss Paula came from a family who always battled with dental health.  Most of her family had false teeth, or constant dental pain, the hopelessness of any other outcome was as contagious as the bacteria that caused decay.  There was not much motivation for change in self care habits without an achievable goal in sight.

As an adult Miss Paula found herself a single parent battling health issues including pre-diabetes and tooth decay.  As a result, she withdrew socially.  She was embarrassed of how her teeth appeared, she didn’t want to talk to people. Miss Paula even formed a habit of covering her mouth with her hand when she laughed as away to hide her teeth. It affected more than her social life.  She was intimidated in participating in school settings with other parents.  She even turned down down a job promotion because it would mean dealing with student’s parents face to face.  The pain in her teeth would drive her to come I to Capitol Dental for emergency treatment from time to time.  Her intentions would always be to follow through with recommended treatment plans and to put preventative care plan in place.  She wanted to get a handle on the downward spiral of tooth decay and loss, but financially something always seemed to get in the away or take longer than it should.

In 2013 all of that changed Paula realized she needed to make changes to see changes.  It started with her weight.  She had a long term fight with obesity that was threatening her with other health complications.  Paula was determined and worked closely with the folks at her local YMCA in a “Diabetes Prevention” program.  She made changes to her activity levels and eating habits.  She lost a total of 135 lbs. in the program.  It wasn’t easy and the challenge of choosing raw vegetables and other healthy foods was compounded by the fact it was nearly impossible for her to chew them in her dental condition.  On a visit to Capitol Dental, Miss Paula shared what she was doing in her journey to health with Dr. Ryan Doyle.  Dr. Doyle shared some treatment options for Paula to improve her dental health.  Even the least expensive option was going to take time for Paula to handle financially.  Seeing the determination and hard work Paula had already implemented in losing weight and getting healthier the “Capitol Cares Case”.   Dr. Doyle went to work on removing infection and decay and giving Miss Paula a mouth she could smile about without a cost to her.

It still took time and effort on Paula’s part including lots of dental appointments.  Paula never missed one or grumbled in the slightest, she said “it actually became like visiting family at Capitol Dental, not like a scary Doctor appointment.”  “I was always called by name and never treated differently because I wasn’t paying” she told me.  The care has changed more than her smile.  Paula has rediscovered her love of people.  She has become outgoing and is making up for lost time socially.  Her elderly mom complains “she talks to everyone at the store.”  She recently attended “Mom’s Weekend”  at U. of I., where her son attends.  It is something she says she never would have done before because her teeth made her so embarrassed.

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“I hated meeting new people, and I covered my mouth when I talked or laughed.” -Miss Paula

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Today, she laughs and smiles and openly shares her

story with her pre-school students and grandchildren in hopes they will form healthier habits early.  She loves eating steak, apples and veggies, she giggles and told me, “Sometimes it makes it harder now, because I can eat anything.”  Sure enough that smile has got her up for another job advancement and this time she is excited about it!  She says her healthy journey will continue for life as it does for all of us and she gushed with gratitude and praise for Dr. Doyle and the Capitol Team for giving her leg up on her way.  Our team feels honored to have been a part of this journey and we look forward to meeting our next “Capitol Cares Case Candidate.”  It has demonstrated to us how a smile really can change a life!