As a child, Gemma Boyer loved to pose for pictures, flashing her wide toothy grin.
But because she has Sjogren’s syndrome — which dries moisture from the eyes and mouth — her teeth became badly decayed. By her late teens, she no longer wanted to show off her smile. Boyer lost confidence and felt uncomfortable going out with friends. Consigned to a diet of soft foods, it was difficult for her to eat what she liked.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere or be seen by anyone,’’ said Boyer, who is 23. “I didn’t even want to be around my family at holiday parties.’’
Last year, she sought treatment from providers at RSDM, where oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Shahid Aziz performed a full-mouth extraction and developed a treatment plan that included dental implants. Then, she began the process of regaining her smile with help from Dr. Mohamed Kamel, an RSDM faculty member who also practices with Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, RSDM’s faculty practice. Aziz treats patients there as well.
Ultimately, Dr. Kamel will create prosthetic crowns for dental implants that will replace Boyer’s missing teeth. But in the meantime, he made dentures that are so dazzling and perfectly fitted, no one can believe they’re not Boyer’s real teeth.
“We went through the process together. We choose the shape of her teeth, the gum shape and the gum color,’’ he said. “She had the dentures the same day as her extractions. Not every dentist knows how to do that, but we were able to accomplish it.’’
At Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, all providers, like Dr. Kamel, are faculty at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. At offices in New Brunswick and Newark, practitioners treat patients directly in a private-practice setting rather than overseeing students. Dentists and surgeons offer a full range of expert care, from family dentistry to complex, specialty needs. Skilled in the latest treatment techniques, providers keep abreast of the best and newest evidence-based research.
For Boyer, the results have been life-changing. These days, she loves socializing. She no longer hesitates to speak or covers her mouth when she laughs. And once again, she is unafraid of the camera. “I take a lot of selfies now,’’ she admits with a smile.