Two compassionate dentists and their team of professionals have come together to provide a brand-new smile to a dedicated first responder as part of a new oral care initiative.
Dr. Jason Auerbach, the CEO and founder of Riverside Oral Surgery practices, and Dr. Dayna Cassandra of DC Cosmetic Dentistry have joined forces to launch the Riverside Oral Surgery First Responders Initiative. The program aims to donate restorative and cosmetic dental services to first responders to honor their selfless contributions to the community and raise awareness for dental health.
The first recipient of this initiative was Johnnie Ramos, a detective with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office in New Jersey.
Ramos, who has served his community for nearly 31 years, was selected to receive treatment after careful consideration by the team of dental professionals.
“We’re very fortunate to be in a position to help people. And it made sense that if we were going to do something like this, that we would do it for people who put themselves in harm’s way to be there for others. Those are the people who deserve it the most, in my opinion,” Auerbach explained in an interview with Fox News.
When it came time to select the first recipient, Auerbach reached out to his social media followers, seeking deserving candidates.
“The unfortunate reality is that we can’t help everybody. So we kind of looked at the big picture and understood what was important about Johnnie’s case, both the dental needs and who he is as a human being, and he was the one we selected,” Auerbach said.
For Ramos, a history of poor dental health stemming from childhood habits and smoking had led to dental issues he had never addressed due to a fear of dentists. When he heard about Auerbach’s initiative, he entered and was nominated for the SMILE program, hoping to improve his oral health.
Auerbach and Cassandra, who have both practiced in the same neighborhood for two decades, brought together a team of experts with complementary skills to give Ramos a perfect smile. This team included Dr. Jonathan Mendia, an anesthesiologist, and donation partners Straumann and Kuwata Pan Dent Laboratory, which specialize in manufacturing dental implants.
Through MAX SSM, Auerbach’s innovative platform for oral and maxillofacial (jaw and facial) surgery, Ramos received a full mouth reconstruction using several tooth implants. The process began with a comprehensive analysis and 3D dental imaging of his mouth and facial structures to ensure a strong foundation for the cosmetic aspect of the procedure.
Cassandra explained the importance of relying on traditional photography and “old-school” techniques complemented by modern digital technologies.
“It’s a combination of old and new, and we deliver the treatment that way,” Cassandra said.
Auerbach also stressed that regardless of cutting-edge technologies, these procedures require a precise skill set and significant attention to detail, as patients are still human beings.
After the initial placement of Ramos’s implants, he received temporary teeth supported by tiny metal cylinders, setting the stage for the final restoration, a milled piece of metal or titanium made in Switzerland by the manufacturers of the implant.
“The precise fit of the teeth to the implants is what determines how successful they will be over the long term,” Cassandra explained.
According to the dentists, the quality of the implant is crucial. Straumann, the Swiss dental company that donated the implants for Ramos, is known for its attention to detail and precise connection, ensuring long-term success.
Ramos is delighted with the results thus far.
“The process has been long yet comforting, and the doctors and staff made it very easy and smooth for me,” he said. “Everyone was professional and did a great job in making me feel comfortable.”
Basic oral care, such as proper brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits to catch and treat issues when they are small, help to prevent more extensive and costly treatments in the long run, Auerbach added.
Cassandra also said that choosing the right dentist is crucial, as individuals who breathe through their mouths, especially when sleeping, are at a higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Looking forward, Auerbach and Cassandra plan to continue their SMILE initiative, aiming to perform one transformation each year.
Cassandra concluded: “We take it seriously. It’s a privilege to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The heartwarming initiative not only brings physical health benefits, but also boosts the mental well-being of recipients, allowing them to lead happier and more confident lives.
As Auerbach aptly put it: “The smile is a universal language.”