It was the summer of 1998. At fourteen years old, I was admitted to Mercy Hospital in Tiffin, Ohio. A nun whispered a prayer as my parents stood at my bedside, holding my hand. The anesthesia set in as they wheeled me into surgery. Any anxiety or reservations I may have had vanished as the room went black. An overnight stay in the hospital was followed by a week or so on the couch at home and an unappetizing month of my mom putting all my meals into a blender.
When asked, I always describe the Le Fort I Osteotomy I underwent as, "They separated my upper jaw from my skull, split it into three pieces, shaved some bone from the top and used plates to screw everything back together." The procedure is actually much more complicated than this, but I voluntarily underwent the surgery to correct severe tooth crowding and jaw misalignment. Three years of braces and reconstructive jaw surgery provided a result that not only transformed my smile, but changed my life forever.
Growing up, I was always interested in science, math, biology and medicine. Spending afternoons in different dental offices over the course of three years allowed me to see the impact dentists have on their patients. Over those impressionable years, I went from being very interested in forensics and criminal justice to seriously considering a career in dentistry or medicine.
Dentistry allows me the chance to connect with my patients. I see the results of my work as their health is improved and their pain is relieved. I am thankful for the care provided by the dentists and specialists throughout my orthodontics and reconstructive surgery. Without their outstanding treatment during those three years, as well as the mentor ship they provided, I may not have chosen the field of dentistry and the wonderful opportunities that go along with being an integral part of this community.