Restoring Confidence: One Veteran’s Lifelong Struggle with Oral Health

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Dr. Sean Rayment and Bertrand

Serving one’s country gives many a sense of pride, accomplishment and loyalty, but that commitment doesn’t necessarily come with any guarantees for stability in life.

After serving in the Army from 1972-1975, Bertrand was excited to start a new career as a travel agent in customer service. For many years, she worked diligently and had the opportunity to travel to many destinations.

Those adventures came to an abrupt halt after being placed on disability leave due to multiple chronic illnesses. Symptoms from diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, and depression made it difficult for her to resume her daily life.

Bertrand then fell on hard times and even experienced homelessness. She struggled to make ends meet, let alone address her health needs. She eventually found a home and mental health treatment with the help of the Veterans Administration, but the poor state of her oral health persisted.

Like so many who suffer from multiple ailments, dental hygiene often gets ignored or deprioritized in the face of other immediate health crises.

Bertrand had always had an ill-fitting full upper denture, but it became more and more difficult to eat. She was also experiencing new pain and discomfort in her lower teeth. So much so, that the pain and the appearance of her teeth were making it more difficult to her to socialize and feel like herself.  

Thankfully, Bertrand found Dental Lifeline Network and, through the Donated Dental Services (DDS) program, was matched with Dr. Sean Rayment, DLN • Massachusetts leadership council member and DDS volunteer. Dr. Rayment provided a comprehensive exam and placed six crowns, and conducted scaling and root planning. Palma Dental Laboratories in Plymouth donated a six-unit bridge to complete the treatment.

“Bertrand was happy beyond words. She said, ‘I can finally smile!’ She was so happy with the results. It was very rewarding for us to be able to help,” said Dr. Rayment.

Bertrand was so grateful for the opportunity to restore her oral health and continue her renewed commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. Things are definitely beginning to look up for her and she has a lot to smile about.

Massachusetts is one of the many states where DLN supports vulnerable patients in need — entirely possible thanks to its network of volunteer dentists, the Massachusetts Dental Society Foundation, and partners like Delta Dental of Massachusetts.

By volunteering with DLN’s Donated Dental Services (DDS) program, you can provide relief to people with great needs right here in Massachusetts. By seeing just ONE patient a year, you can help provide comprehensive dental care to those who otherwise could not afford it.

Currently, in Massachusetts, 74 people are still waiting for treatment. To help decrease our waitlist, please consider volunteering to see ONE patient. If you would like to join us and become a volunteer, contact Tonya Smith at (978) 881-8558 or visit WillYouSeeOne.org.

Dental Lifeline Network • Massachusetts is part of a national organization, Dental Lifeline Network (DLN), a strategic partner of the American Dental Association. More than 15,000 volunteer dentists and 3,400 laboratories participate in DLN’s DDS programs nationwide. For more information, visit www.DentalLifeline.org/Massachusetts.

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