Saskatoon Smiles – Give Back Program
The Smile Give Back Program was created in 2012 by Dr. Antosh for people who are unable to afford to pay for much needed orthodontic or restorative dentistry. Each year Dr. Antosh and the Saskatoon Smiles team selects one person to provide these services at his own expense.
Tina’s smile is transformed!
Last spring was not the first time that Tina LaVallie had filled out an application form to be considered as a StarPhoenix Beautiful You candidate.
Her very first application form, filled out five years ago, never reached us. Tina’s fear of dentistry prevented her from sending in the application form, in case she was selected and ended up having to see the Beautiful You dentist.
Like many people, Tina’s fear of dentistry began with a negative experience in childhood. “From that time on, I always associated dental appointments with that experience of having teeth pulled. I even consulted a therapist to help me overcome that fear, but he wasn’t able to help,” says Tina.
“Because of my fear, I didn’t go for regular dental checkups, and my teeth got pretty bad.
I consider myself fortunate that they didn’t end up even worse than they were. I was sure that I had advanced gum disease.”
Her dental anxiety reached a peak three years ago when a toothache necessitated a root canal. “That was my first experience with sedation dentistry. I had the root canal done, but I couldn’t make myself go back for the crown that they were going to do,” says Tina.
Tina was determined not to let fear conquer her again and prevent her from applying for the Beautiful You program in the spring of 2009. “I was really determined to improve my overall health, and felt I could do it with the help of the Beautiful You team,” says Tina.
Dental health is a key component of the Beautiful You program. After being selected as the Beautiful You, one of Tina’s very first appointments was for an oral health examination by Dr. Wes Antosh at Saskatoon Smiles.
It’s important for patients to tell their dentist if they’re nervous about dental visits, advises the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) on its informative website. “Often, it’s fear of pain that keeps people out of the dental chair. But new ways of doing things have made modern dentistry almost painless. If you are afraid of going to the dentist for any reason, don’t be shy to talk to your dentist about it. Your dentist is trained to help you relax,” says the CDA.
Dr. Antosh and his team worked together to put Tina at ease.
I was able to talk to Dr. Antosh about my anxiety, and the sedation medications I had to use in the past. He understood my fear,” says Tina.
“At the beginning of each appointment, the dentist’s assistant would take the time to chat with me before the treatment began, which helped calm me. When I was going to have a new procedure, such as in-office bleaching, they were very good about explaining everything to me first. That was very helpful,” says Tina.
Dr. Antosh says, “To help patients manage their anxiety, we want to keep their experience pain-free. Something as simple as the use of a topical anesthetic gel to numb the gum tissue prior to treatment can help many patients. It makes the procedure less invasive. The dentist’s own attitude toward the patient is also important. If you take a light, friendly approach, the patient is more relaxed.”
People with dental anxiety, like Tina, often neglect having annual oral health examinations. “This only compounds the problem,” says Dr. Antosh.
With regular check-ups, we can catch small problems early and treat them before they become big problems. It’s always better to be preventive.”
During a dental check up, the dentist also looks for signs of other health problems, including early signs of gum disease, infection, oral cancer and other illnesses. “Your teeth and gums are important indicators of your overall health,” says Dr. Antosh. “It’s true: healthy gums are a healthy you!”
Tina’s dental check up revealed several cavities that required fillings. As well, several old fillings were deteriorating and needed to be replaced. As fillings age and deteriorate, there is a greater risk that the tooth around the filling will crack.
Tina was also in need of a thorough cleaning by one of the clinic’s dental hygienists. Professional cleaning is the only way to remove hardened deposits of tartar from teeth. If not removed, tartar can cause gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
An in-office bleaching treatment was used to whiten and brighten Tina’s teeth. The system uses a light-activated hydrogen peroxide gel, power-assisted by a bleaching lamp, to whiten teeth in just one to two hours. Tina also received an at-home gel tray bleaching kit, to help her maintain the new whiteness of her teeth.
To further enhance Tina’s smile, Dr. Antosh applied veneers and crowns to Tina’s top teeth. The crowns were milled on-site at the dental office, using their new E.max system.
“I can’t believe how wonderful my smile is now!” says Tina. “I never dreamed I could have such a great smile. I had resigned myself to the idea that I’d end up having to get dentures.”
Before her Beautiful You makeover, Tina says she had become used to hiding her smile. “I didn’t want people looking at my smile. I’d smile with my hand over my mouth or shy away from meeting new people,” says Tina.
“After getting my teeth done, I’m just amazed by how many people comment on my smile. It makes me realize how important my smile is to my self-confidence and overall health.”
Prior to her Beautiful You experience, Tina never thought she would ever be able to get through one – let alone ten dentist appointments! With each appointment, she grew less reliant on the sedation medication, to the point where she recently was able to have a second cleaning by one of the dental hygienists without any medication at all!
“I never ever thought that would have been possible!” says Tina. “After every appointment, I felt a feeling of accomplishment. I’d think, ‘Wow, I did it!’”
I can’t say enough about my experience at Saskatoon Smiles. It’s been a real learning experience, one of personal growth. I’m very grateful for my new smile!”
Tina is now looking forward to her next annual dental check up, which is scheduled for August.
Article by Jeannie Armstrong SP Creative Features Editor
Photos Courtesy Saskatoon Star Phoenix