Demetria Rhynes

Macon, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, my multiple sclerosis was caught early and I am able to live a normal life.”

Twenty-one-year-old Demetria Rhynes couldn’t have imagined that one visit to the dentist would change her life. In 2011, Demetria went in for a routine procedure, but noticed her gums were still numb several days later. To be safe, she went back to her dentist, who referred her to a neurologist, who diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease.

Over time, Demetria slowly became unable to walk and lost all mobility in the right side of her body —which became really hard for her. While other 21-year-olds were embracing adulthood, Demetria was struggling to live with and manage a lifelong condition. Demetria says the experience was eye-opening, and it motivated her to monitor her health closely. Because she saw her dentist regularly, Demetria’s multiple sclerosis was caught and treated early and she is able to walk. “Because I saw my dentist, my multiple sclerosis was caught early and I am able to live a normal life.”

Pete Gebhardt

Alpharetta, Ga.
"Because I saw my dentist, my cancer was discovered and removed early, preventing it from spreading throughout my body."

Since Pete Gebhardt was a child, he has seen his dentist every six months like clockwork. For years, every visit was routine — until his dentist spotted something suspicious on Pete’s gum and became alarmed. A biopsy two months later revealed the spot was cancerous, and his dentist referred him to an oral surgeon who removed a portion of his gums to stop the cancer. “If I wouldn’t have seen my dentist like I do every six months, I might not be here today. And I might not have part of my jaw,” Pete said. Prior to this particular visit, Peter had never experienced any discomfort, bleeding any other symptoms indicating a problem. But because he went regularly, the cancer was caught in time. “Because I saw my dentist, my cancer was discovered and removed early, preventing it from spreading throughout my body.”

Lainie Smith

Atlanta, Ga.
"Because I saw my dentist, my rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed and treated early, and now I’m able to create beautiful art pieces again."

Lainie Smith has always made an effort to see her dentist at least twice a year for routine checkups. One morning she unexpectedly experienced unsettling pain in her jaw. The pain in her face and inability to open her mouth led Lainie to believe she had TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. Her immediate thought was to contact her dentist, who knew her medical history. “It was so painful. I couldn’t sleep, eat or talk. All I could do was cry,” Lainie said. By the time she arrived at her dentist’s office the pain became excruciating and she didn’t know how much longer she could bear it. After the exam and X-ray review, her dentist determined it was not TMJ. Suspecting an autoimmune disease, he referred her to a specialist where she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Because she saw her dentist right away and was treated early by a rheumatologist, she was able to slow down the progression of the disease and continue her passion for glass blowing and drawing. Lainie’s commitment to her six-month routine dental exam had a major positive impact on her overall health. Without her dentist, Lainie would not have known about her rheumatoid arthritis, the disease would have progressed and she wouldn’t be in the good health condition she is in today. “Because I saw my dentist, my rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed and treated early, and now I’m able to create beautiful art pieces again.”

Julie Griffin

Dunwoody, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, I am alive today.”

Julie Griffin had no idea that a routine cleaning would uncover the unthinkable – tongue cancer.  While examining her teeth, Julie’s dentist noticed an abnormal spot on her tongue. Unaware of what the spot could mean, her dentist sent her to receive a biopsy. Biopsies were conducted and an area of her tongue was identified as pre-cancerous. Julie underwent oral surgery to remove the infected portion of her tongue. Thankfully her last biopsy came back clear. “I had no idea that the cancer was there, and even after my dentist showed it to me. I could not have found it on my own,” Julie said. Before visiting her dentist, Julie did not have any symptoms or signs of a problem. She is grateful that her dentist discovered the cancer before it was too late. This life altering experience showed her that a regular dental exam is a necessary part of your general well-being.

Samantha Clark

Acworth, Ga
"Because I saw my dentist, I got my confidence back and look and feel healthier and happier."

Samantha Clark’s job in sales requires her to interact with her clients and approach them with a confident smile. Today she shares her smile with ease, but it wasn’t always that way. As a child, Clark maintained good oral hygiene and saw her dentist every six months. However, as a young adult, she let oral hygiene habits slip and stopped going to the dentist, not realizing the severe impact it would have on her oral health later in life.

By the time she was in her 30s, she lost a tooth and some of her front teeth were beginning to crumble and come apart. Her damaged teeth impacted many aspects of her life, from her self-confidence to the ability to eat healthy foods, like an apple. “I wasn’t feeling good, my self-esteem had really declined and I went from having a nice smile and doing theatre to a point where I didn’t smile in pictures,” she says. Seeing a dentist and finding a dental home changed her life. Now with veneers and implants, she has her confidence back. “Because I saw my dentist, I smile in photos, I can approach people and I’m thinking about getting back into community theatre and things I used to enjoy in my youth. I feel happier and healthier.”

Michael Gatewood

Winder, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, my confidence level is back and I’m a much happier person.”

Michael Gatewood admits he was guilty of only going to the dentist when issues with his teeth worsened. He eventually hit a point where he only had a few teeth left that were viable. Professionally, Michael works with high-end clientele and his deteriorating smile began to affect his ability to do his job. “When you approach new customers and clientele, you really don’t want to hide your smile. I love to smile and laugh,” he says, “but it bears on your confidence level when you’re not happy with your smile.” Knowing that his oral health was important to him, Michael sought treatment from his dentist.  Since then, he says his life has become much easier. He no longer hides his smile or experiences severe pain, and he can eat the foods he loves without frustration. Michael now believes you should take care of your body in more ways than one — by maintaining good oral hygiene, having a good diet and exercising regularly. He now has a great smile!

Kathleen Patreka

Smyrna, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, I am in better physical health and I have a beautiful smile.”

Kathleen Patreka’s childhood fear of going to the dentist followed her throughout her life, so she never made it a priority. After many years of bad oral hygiene and three decades of smoking, Kathleen was afraid of what the dentist would think of her teeth. By her early 40s, unusual bleeding from her gums led Kathleen to finally schedule a dental appointment. It was at that visit Kathleen’s dentist discovered she had inherited a disease that caused her nose, tongue and gums to bleed, and the dentist diagnosed her with a serious case of periodontitis disease.

Kathleen’s dentist told her she had to start taking her oral health seriously and encouraged her to continue regular dental appointments and to commit to quit smoking. Kathleen now visits her dentist three times a year, and she stopped smoking. Her gums no longer bleed and she lives a much healthier lifestyle ― which shows on her face. “Because I saw my dentist, I am in better physical health and I have a beautiful smile”.

Michal Stempij

Decatur, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, I now have a great social life and more money in my pocket.”

Michal Stempij relocated to Decatur, Ga., and made it a priority to establish a dental home. At one of his routine dental visits, his dentist noticed an abnormality in his throat, and asked if he frequently caught colds and if he had the feeling of an obstructed airway. Michal confirmed he did, and said he had been suffering from chronic colds for seven years. His dentist referred him to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, who told Michal he needed to have his tonsils surgically removed.

Michal underwent a tonsillectomy in early 2015 and has not had a cold since. The surgery has made a huge impact on Michal’s life because, before of surgery each fall and winter he would become severely ill with cold symptoms. Unsure of the cause, Michal felt hopeless. His social life was particularly affected by his condition. His finances were mainly spent on medication and treatment rather than leisure activities. “After my dentist identified the real health issue, I followed through with additional medical treatment and now I feel great,” Michal said. Because Michal saw his dentist his social life doesn’t end with the summer, but continues to flourish throughout the year. “Because I saw my dentist, I now have a great social life and more money in my pocket.”

Malon Mimms

Roswell, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist I am alive today. It was my dentist that discovered I had cancer.”

Malon Mimms has a lot to live for. He has a large family with more than 26 children and grandchildren and a demanding career in commercial real estate. But those commitments never got in the way of Malon visiting his dentist every six months. After one routine cleaning, his dentist noticed a red spot on the upper level of his mouth ― a spot Malon wouldn’t have noticed himself.

Knowing the urgency of the situation, Malon’s dentist insisted he have the area examined by a cancer specialist. The expert determined that Malon had oral cancer and would need immediate surgery to remove the upper left part of his gum. Had his dentist not recognized the spot and insist get the added screening, the cancer would have spread. “Because I saw my dentist, I am alive today.”

Cheri Bertolucci

Sandy Springs, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, I have been able to keep my own teeth. I have confidence and I’m able to smile again with my own teeth.”

Cheri Bertolucci is a nurse and has worked in an operating room for almost 30 years, so she knows how important it is to see her dentist and take care of her teeth. With her hectic schedule, however, she continued to put off her routine dental visits. All of her life, her teeth appeared to be flawless ― white and perfectly aligned ― but little did she know the health of her teeth had declined.

Meanwhile, Cheri began experiencing chronic headaches, which led her to seek medical help ― with no improvement. When her teeth started cracking and breaking, she knew something was terribly wrong. Fortunately it wasn’t too late to save her teeth, but she did have to undergo several root canals and the pain of repairing 15 teeth. Today, Cheri will tell you she understands the value of having a proper dental home and someone who knows her mouth. “I found a dental home, I have confidence and I’m able to smile again with my own teeth,” she said. “Because I saw my dentist and found a dental home, patients don’t wonder ‘what’s wrong with her mouth’ when they see me.”

Billy Duncan

Mableton, Ga.
"Because I saw my dentist, my throat cancer was detected early, and I was able to have the tumor surgically removed."

Billy Duncan has seen his dentist every six months for more than a decade. In late 2010, his dentist noticed a suspicious irregularity on the floor of his mouth (a place he was not able to see himself) and she suggested he see a specialist. At first, Billy began to think his dentist may have overreacted, because he wasn’t in pain and felt normal. His dentist, knowing that Billy had a serious issue, was insistent and showed him exactly where to have the doctor examine.

A biopsy by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist showed that Billy had an extremely rare type of cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Because Billy saw his dentist, the cancer was detected early, and he was able to have the tumor surgically removed. If the cancer remained unnoticed it would have spread to more glands, affecting his sight and hearing. Billy believes early detection from his dental visit saved his life. “Going to a dentist is more than just going when you have a toothache,” he said. Billy believes you need a dentist to examine all aspects of your mouth to achieve good oral health. “Because I saw my dentist, my throat cancer was detected early, and I was able to have the tumor surgically removed.”

Kenya Miles

Statesboro, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, I was given the opportunity to have a beautiful and healthy smile.”

Kenya Miles’ smile was never bigger than when she was crowned homecoming queen. But it hadn’t always been that way. Along with inheriting her mother’s beautiful face and personality, she also inherited excessively crooked teeth. Kenya’s mother experienced a lifetime of pain and challenged — both socially and physically — and was determined to change the course for her daughter. That commitment began by ensuring Kenya saw a dentist regularly, and Kenya’s mother made sure nothing prevented her from receiving the best care.

When the time was right, Kenya received treatment to address overlapping bottom teeth and spacing issues in her upper teeth. After several corrective procedures to address the problem, Kenya now has a picture perfect smile — and more reasons to smile every day. “Because I saw my dentist, I have a beautiful and healthy smile.”

Davin DeLoatch

Austell, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, my type 2 diabetes was discovered early and I’m leading an active and healthy life.”

Davin DeLoatch is a self-proclaimed workaholic. Although he knew it was important to see his dentist regularly, work always took priority. Davin also knew he had Type 1 Diabetes diabetes, but was not aware of the correlation between diabetes and dental health. “Being the workaholic I am, I blamed not going to the dentist on work,” Davin said. As time went on, his gums began to swell, bleed and ache. Once the pain reached a severe level, he finally decided to make an appointment to see his dentist. His dentist discovered that he was suffering from gingivitis, periodontitis, halitosis and multiple decayed teeth that had to be removed.

In order to live a heathier life, Davin realized that he needed to take care of his oral health and his diabetes, which had advanced. His dentist suggested he start excising or take up a sport. Since Davin loves basketball, that was an easy choice for him. Davin says he learned a hard lesson that he eagerly shares with others. “Because I saw my dentist, my Type 2 Diabetes was discovered early and I’m leading an active and healthy life.”

David Do

Suwanee, Ga.
“Because I saw my dentist, I’m not afraid to smile or laugh as I was when I was younger.”

As a high school student, David Do’s smile is his prized possession, and the journey it took to achieve itis one he will not forget. David and his family moved to Suwanee, Georgia from Vietnam when he was five years old. His parents searched tirelessly to find their family a new dental home. David’s love for candy caused many problems with his teeth at a young age. He began seeing a dentist regularly who was able to correct his teeth issues early so he could have the smile he does today. “Without the help from my dentist, I don’t think I would be as healthy as I am now,” David said. His dental hygiene habits have improved as a teenager, and he sees his dentist every six months to make sure he is doing well keeping up his oral health.

Craig Griffin

Dunwoody, Ga.
"Because I saw my dentist, I have a great smile and my teeth are healthy and stable."

Craig Griffin typically went to his dentist for routine cleanings and occasional fillings. But over time, issues with his teeth began to raise concern.  His dentist informed him that he was losing enamel on his teeth and that there was no way he could live another twenty years with the same set of teeth. Craig would eventually need dentures if significant steps weren’t taken to save his teeth. He opted to get veneers to give him back his smile. Having two heart attacks in his forties and a family with a history of heart disease, Craig learned of the direct connection between oral health and heart health.  “It wasn’t until I had a heart attack and was lying on the floor waiting for a paramedic, that I realized I needed to take my health seriously.” In order to prevent oral infections from impacting his heart in the future, he routinely sees his dentist every six months. “Because I saw my dentist, I have a great smile and my teeth are healthy and stable.