Marva is a retired law enforcement officer who once attributed her sleepless nights to a career of late-night shifts. She first went to see Dr. Kelley Mingus for a broken tooth and ended up uncovering a mouthful of solutions to problems she didn’t even realize were connected to her dental health.
Decades of dental issues left her with continuous need for repairs, always at the most inconvenient times. It never left her mind that a crown or bridge could fail. She was always trying to stay on top of her dental work, but felt like she was drowning in temporary fixes. Marva longed for a permanent solution for restoring her teeth. After receiving recommendations from family members, she called Dr. Mingus about her broken front tooth.
"After my first appointment, I immediately knew this was somebody I had been looking for," Marva said.
In addition to the broken teeth and structural damage to her bite, Dr. Mingus diagnosed Marva with a TMJ disorder. "I had experienced, for my entire adult life a lot of clicking and popping in my jaw, and I thought that was just something that happened, she said. And I had asked previous dentists about it, and it didn't ever seem to be a huge concern."
Marva’s jaw joints were collapsing and interfering with her ear canals, causing a great deal of pain along the sides of her face. After reviewing x-rays and treatment options, Marva knew she felt safe to proceed with full mouth rehabilitation. "I had selected that we were gonna remove all the old dental work and make it the best possible outcome it could be," Marva said.
Dr. Mingus began by addressing Marva’s jaw alignment. He placed a TMJ splint to begin gradually shifting her jaw to its proper position.
"It was pretty comfortable and I immediately, within 7 to 10 days, could sleep better, I could eat better, I wasn't clenching my teeth at night, Marva said. I had always worn some sort of a protector or appliance to try to keep me from damaging my dental work, from clenching or grinding my teeth at night. I didn't need that anymore. And progressively over the course of a few months, we adjusted that splint a little bit at a time and I experienced what it was like to be able to eat and have a chewing surface in other places of my teeth rather than just my front teeth or just one side on the back."
Waking up in pain had become so normal for her, Marva didn’t realize that her teeth and jaw were causing so many other problems in her body. "The change with being able to sleep soundly through the night and not wake up with an aching jaw and a headache was like a gift," she said.
After a few months, Marva’s jaw was corrected. Dr. Mingus then began removing her old dental work and designing her ideal smile.
"I knew exactly what I wanted the end result to look like, she said. And I came back a couple of times and we did a little tweak here and a little tweak there until I went, yes, that's exactly the size, shape, the kind I want. And I know from my experience with Dr. Mingus, he has a very good aesthetic eye for what looks good, for shades and shapes and things. So I really interacted with him about, okay, if I'm thinking this, am I off base? Am I going to not like the end result? And he gave good advice and it made sense."
Marva is no longer afraid to take a bite or flash a big smile.
"What I noticed mostly about the difference between now and before I started the process, I always had a certain amount of tension with what was going to fail next, she said. I was always hyper aware of what I was eating and how I could eat it, because I didn't want to compromise any of the dental work I had. Now I don’t have to worry about what’s gonna happen."
What advice does Marva have for others?
"What I would say to anybody who has remotely experienced dental problems is to get the kind of in-depth examination to see if some of the problems they have can be repaired, changed, or addressed, she said. Things like grinding your teeth, not sleeping well at night, clenching your teeth, hearing problems, neck problems, headaches. Some of those I had no idea were related to jaw problems, bite problems, and just getting that examination and understanding what a difference it could make to address those problems, dental problems, what a difference it can make in that laundry list of things that may be going on. It's priceless to have that kind of difference in your life and affect so many different things. Sleep is not overrated, not having headaches, not having the worry of clenching your teeth and breaking it. It's just a much more comfortable place to be in."
Marva has said goodbye to mix and match dental work and can now be found enjoying her new, pain-free normal. "It's always part of everyday life, and now it's really not, she said. I don't think about it. I don't worry about it. And one of the main things is I'm not afraid to smile and feel like things look good. Now everything is beautiful like it should have been from the day I was born."