Katelyn’s story

Dr. Todd Rankin recounts the hard work of a team working on behalf of Smile for A Lifetime to change the world for a patient with severe clinical issues.

Figure 1: Katelyn

Dr. Todd Rankin shares a story of extraordinary teamwork and the stunning transformation of a young woman who had lost all hope 

I started having a feeling that my smile wasn’t like everyone else’s pretty early in the game. I always looked in the mirror, I always looked at magazines with the girls on the front with these big beautiful teeth, and I always thought — is there anything I can do?
— Katelyn

Katelyn first visited us as a 12-year-old with no confidence and little hope that she would ever have the beautiful smile she so desperately wanted. After getting picked on for many years because of her odd smile and missing teeth, she was reluctant to even show me her mouth to get a look at the work that needed to be done.

Figure 2: Pre- and posttreatment

When I met Dr. Rankin, I felt intimidated even by the thought that someone would have to examine what I’ve been hiding. Without hesitation, he told me he knew how I felt. All the doctors involved in my case were constantly there for me and helped me in more ways than they will ever know.
— Katelyn

Katelyn’s mom wasn’t sure they could afford braces, let alone all of the other procedures that her daughter needed. This is when I told them about Smile for a Lifetime and their mission of giving the gift of a smile to youth in need. When she and Katelyn learned that the transformation would be free for them and performed by a team of volunteer professionals, they were overwhelmed.

Figure 3: Pre- and posttreatment cephs

No one should ever have to hide their smile from the world. It was time to change that for Katelyn, and I was confident that our team could accomplish this. Katelyn’s case was very complex and beyond what I could do myself. With 19 missing teeth due to ectodermal dysplasia, a severe maxillary deficiency, and limited dental care to her present teeth, I knew I needed a stellar team to give Katelyn the smile of her dreams. Her treatment plan would require orthognathic surgery with multiple implants, bilateral sinus grafts, and ridge augmentation followed by extensive restorative work.

Figure 4: Pre- and posttreatment panoramic radiographs

We were very fortunate to partner with an incredible interdisciplinary team of professionals and hospitals for Katelyn’s case. Dr. William Foley, our Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon, came onboard to donate his services for the orthognathic surgery, and the local hospital administrator, Mr. Ray Legget, graciously donated all hospital services during Katelyn’s stay.

Figure 5: (left to right) Dr. Leonard “Len” Fiume, Dr. Todd Rankin, Katelyn, Dr. Jeffrey R. Thomas, and Dr. J. Stephen Hoard

Dr. Jeffery R. Thomas with Wilmington Periodontics & Implant Center agreed to give his time and worked with Straumann® USA (Andover, Massachusetts) to donate all needed implants, their components, and regenerative materials for Katelyn’s case.

When Dr. Rankin introduced me to Katelyn, I was not surprised but became aware quickly of the vast enormity of the project. It was essentially not just a highly complex full-mouth endeavor, but a challenge to somehow psychologically bring an understanding to a young lady, who did not care about her life at all.
— Dr. Jeffrey R. Thomas

The final piece of the puzzle was our Cosmetic Reconstructive Dentist, Dr. J. Stephen Hoard, with J. Stephen Hoard Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry, who donated his services and arranged for Bay View Dental Lab (Chesapeake, Virginia) to cover all lab fees. 

Dr. Rankin had discussed her case with me before I saw her. He wanted to know if I was willing to help out with a case through the Smile for a Lifetime program. I was already part of a tremendous dental team that included Orthodontist Dr. Todd Rankin, Periodontist Dr. Jeffrey Thomas, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. William Foley, Bay View Dental Lab, and myself, a restorative dentist, so it was already a “yes” from me before he asked.
— Dr. J. Stephen Hoard

November 2015 marked one of the most satisfying and emotional milestones of Katelyn’s transformative journey. With the help of Dr. Hoard, Bay View Dental Lab, and Dr. Thomas, the upper provisional was placed, allowing Katelyn to have some new teeth while the rest of the reconstruction was taking place. As Katelyn saw her teeth for the first time, it was an explosion of emotions — laughing, crying, and total disbelief.

In that instant, the shy young girl was gone forever. Born was a self-confident young woman.
— Dr. J. Stephen Hoard

We were all completely blown away, and there was not a dry eye in the room. This transformation was a shift in the universe for Katelyn, her mom, and the treatment team, and Smile for a Lifetime that cannot fully be described or quantified.

The moment I got to see myself with a smile was the moment I began breaking out of my shell, and I felt like I could take on the world.
— Katelyn

Katelyn’s remarkable esthetic outcome as well as the dedication and teamwork of everyone involved was a priceless and a completely life-changing experience for all of us. It transformed a child who had no desire to continue living into a vibrant and outgoing woman who now works as a dental assistant in an oral and maxillofacial surgery practice. The icing on the cake was when Straumann® and the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia selected her for an all-expenses paid trip to San Francisco to take the stage at the Straumann®/ITI National Meeting and tell her story. Her remarkable testimony and dazzling smile had many people in tears!

We all try to change people’s lives every day. The Smile for a Lifetime program allows you to do this through a team approach in dentistry, and our reward goes beyond any financial compensation we ever could receive. I look forward to our next case.
— Dr. J. Stephen Hoard

This case was the ultimate interdisciplinary experience, demonstrating how we really need each other to achieve high-level treatment outcomes for complex patients. Katelyn’s case spanned nearly 6 years and encompassed donated goods and services worth at least $180,000. More importantly, it changed her life and gave her hope for a promising future. If you watch Katelyn’s video on the S4L website (smileforalifetime.org), you may shed a tear as well.

Katelyn’s incredible story and transformation is the reason we do what we do at Smile for a Lifetime. We have expanded our volunteer base to include dentists and oral surgeons to better serve kids in need. Working in inter-disciplinary teams, providers can deliver more comprehensive oral health care to complex patients like Katelyn.
— Robin Coen, National Executive Director, Smile for a Lifetime Foundation

To learn more about the mission of Smile for a Lifetime and how you can become a provider, or to watch Katelyn’s touching smile transformation, visit https://www.smileforalifetime.org.

While Smile for a Lifetime allowed for an interdisciplinary team to change a patient’s life, Drs. Stuart and Steve Frost’s act of kindness saved a child’s life. Read about Brooks’ heroes here: https://orthopracticeus.com/brooks-heroes/

Todd Rankin, DDS, received his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University and his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of North Carolina School of Dental Medicine. There he received an award from the American Association of Orthodontists for exceptional research in facial development. He received his certificate in orthodontics at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Dr. Rankin is a member of both the American Association of Orthodontists and North Carolina Association of Orthodontists (past president of NCAO). He is also a longtime member of the Schulman Study Group of orthodontists and is in practice at Rankin and Fiume Orthodontics in New Bern, North Carolina.


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