Give Skunk a New Smile : )
"Skunk" is one of the most generous guys I have ever met. He’s also a talented welder and artist - he's often found creating intricate sculptures out of scrap metal at the Artisan’s Asylum. As you can see in the photo, his teeth could use a lot of help. Due to all the work needed, we hope to pool funds to lend him a hand.
As a doctor, dental school graduate, and owner of McCarty Anesthesiology , I have a great appreciation for the appearance of people’s teeth. (I am a dental anesthesiologist, so I work to improve people’s dental health everyday.) However, appearance is not Skunk’s concern. The factors that matter much more to him are relief from chronic pain and improvement in his overall health. These are the reasons we want to help.
My name is Patrick McCarty and I was introduced to Skunk when I was looking for a custom anesthesiology cart for my mobile practice. I need to be able to move my anesthesia equipment out of my van many times a day, as I treat patients at different clinics around Massachusetts. Unfortunately, when I went to have a cart made, I miscalculated the size I needed and I asked to have one built that wouldn’t fit into my van! We were bewildered by how to fix one that was nearly finished and much too tall. Thankfully, Skunk saved the day with his awe-inspiring welding skills and his great sense of humor. I was so thankful for Skunk's help and ultimately the great friendship that came out of the process.
After we finished the cart, I asked Skunk about his teeth and he said they are something that have been a struggle for him. Skunk’s dental troubles started when his family moved after he got braces as a teenager. His orthodontic treatment was not continued, so his teeth became crowded and difficult to clean properly. This resulted in significant bone loss. Moreover, his jaw is small which makes dental work quite difficult. Unfortunately, Skunk’s dental health has been more complex than what can be resolved by the daily care and routine check-ups needed by most people.
Skunk told me he would be grateful for any help I could offer. Since then, I have worked with a number of colleagues who have helped with his dental care. Skunk has often contributed by building their professional websites and giving them artwork in return. Even with their generosity, his teeth pose a number of challenges for an experienced dentist. Many of my colleagues have been hesitant to take on his potentially very complicated and expensive restoration work. A strong bone structure is key to having a solid foundation, and working to improve it is not covered by most dental insurance plans. Outside of a dentist's fees, even when given pro bono, there are substantial materials and lab fees. We believe the costs may be more than $30,000 - even with the continued generosity of discounted and free dental care.
Without your help, Skunk will lose his teeth sooner than a young person should. As a man in his early 40s with the energy of a 20 year old, Skunk has a bright future. He is one of the last guys who would ask for your help, so we decided we would ask for him. We know Skunk will appreciate your generosity.
Due to the extensive amount of dental treatment needed, we hope to pool funds to help him put himself ahead of others by restoring the smile he deserves.
I am pleased to share with everyone that after ten visits in the last eight months, all the major dental visits are now complete! Each visit was was such a tremendous relief: I felt as if a curse was gradually lifting off of me. In fact, I think there was a part of me that was perpetually fighting the infection going on in my mouth. So with each session came a great sense of relief and joy: something to look forward to.
Before I went into this I was preparing myself to suffer long recovery times and even some serious pain. It wasn't nearly as painful as I was expecting. Perhaps my mouth had gone numb to trauma due to infection, but it's more likely to be accredited to the thirty-plus years of dental surgical practice of Dr. Stephen Matarazzo.
"Dr. Steve" as we all call him in the office, reached out to me after seeing the first of three Boston Globe articles about the fundraiser. We talked on the phone, and we met in person at his office in Quincy. I had a lot of questions, and my case was complicated to say the least. I felt I could be frank with Dr. Steve, and that he was being honest with me.
A successful campaign for a cause has many important roles to fill in order for it to be a success: from the people who have the vision and do the planning, to the financial donations from family and friends, to the spreaders of the word, and to the team of dentists and their teams who had already given so much before the fundraiser had even started. But it all comes down to the one who's gonna hold the drill of destiny.
I was very nervous the first session: it was the longest, and the most dramatic. I tried to put myself in a state of calmness: it worked, but not as well as I would have liked. Dr. Steve's staff was so excited about the day: it helped to put me at ease. Honestly, the six hours went by pretty quickly: I was interested to see what was going on, and felt like I was learning a lot. Everyone involved made it easy for me to be an easy patient.
The first visit was certainly the most dramatic: I was wondering if my parrot would recognize me when I got home. He did, but I think it was my voice that convinced him.
Each consecutive visit was a little easier, and a more familiar. It made such a huge difference right away: even though I needed to take it easy on the temporary teeth it was worlds better. I even got to have a say in how the shape and shade of the teeth were to be, to fit my face and smile.
It was so hard for me to imagine my new smile, but now it feels like it's always been a part of me. It feels so good to smile and show these beautiful new teeth off, especially to those who donated -- in fact the anonymous donors have me smiling as often as possible, since I don't know who they are. What surprised me the most was the first time I bit into an apple: I hadn't realized that teeth were much more effective when aligned properly: biting and chewing food is much easier. They are much easier to clean too. There's nothing quite like having the right tool for the job!
One of the first things Dr. Matarazzo said to me was "I'd like for you to think of me as <em>your</em> dentist." After knowing him not only do I think of him as My Dentist for Life, I also think of him to myself as the man who changed my life.
Are my teeth fixed? Yes: a lot of great work has been done and I'm certainly well out of the dangerous levels of dental health. Like most things pertaining to health, it's not an event, but rather a practice. I've got plenty of teeth in the back that still need some TLC, and the new teeth need some extra care.
Can we claim victory? Absolutely! However, anyone who's looked into having a procedure such as this knows that the fundraiser goal, albeit a lofty goal, was a conservative one, at least when it comes to the level of severity in my case. The expense of lab work, x-rays, molds, models, the new teeth, etc., add up to quite a bit more than we raised. Dr. Matarazzo was generous with his time and resources to help me out. He agreed to take on my case at the cost of the fundraiser goal. Therefore I'd like to keep the fundraiser open for him, for those who'd like to contribute to covering his staff's time and his expenses.
When the fundraiser started, I thought it was a very kind gesture but it still seemed like a dream. When so many gave so much, I was flabbergasted. But I still didn't allow myself to believe it would happen until I met Dr. Steve. He tells me my teeth are the most dramatic case he's worked on. Personally this this whole thing has been transformative in my health, my happiness, and my gratefulness of my all involved and their talents. I feel so thankful and grateful and blessed, and I cannot thank Dr. Steve and his staff enough.
Five hours in the dentist chair can be a big improvement: these are the temporary partials that are worn until the bone is healed. The lower teeth are next, more to come!
We're 200 strong now. Unbelievable! Thank you all so much, I'm really excited!
I learned to weld on titanium: it would be fitting. Of course I defer to Patrick's wisdom in any case. He's already given me so much: his selfless generosity knows no bounds it seems.
Is there anything more fitting for a titanium bike welder than titanium implants ; )
What were you thinking? Bone, membrane, implants and fixed dentures? Just brainstorming for help...