At 37, Cheryl Kingsford has been working for a lifetime to get the smile she radiantly beams every day now.
Cheryl was eight years old when she was first diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia but
because of other issues going on in her family, the diagnosis was forgotten. It wouldn’t be till 22 years later that she and a dentist found the words “ectodermal dysplasia” in her records. It started her down a path to get her permanent smile. In the process, she found the NFED and the support she needed.
Cheryl arrived at her first Family Conference in 2010 in a lot of pain because of her TMJ that made it difficult to talk and interact with others. She was relieved when a doctor from the NFED Scientific Advisory Council diagnosed with her Witkop’s tooth and nail syndrome.
Cheryl had all of her baby teeth but those were misshapened. She was missing eight of her permanent teeth. Throughout her life, she had teeth sanded down, braces put on and wore several different partial dentures. In 2011, Cheryl found an oral surgeon who agreed to donate his services for her dental implant treatment plan.
It became a long journey over many years as she sought out the right team and resources to make it happen. She applied to the NFED’s Treatment Assistance Program. Because her prosthodontist and oral surgeon used Nobel Biocare, their rep from that company wrote a letter to management to see if they would donate her dental implants. Cheryl also reached out to Heraeus Kulzer, LLC to ask if they would donate the teeth for her temporary and final dentures. Both companies agreed to help
Cheryl traveled to Salt Lake City from her Idaho home for the dental implant process. On April 13, 2012, Cheryl’s surgery day finally arrived. She had all 20 of her adult teeth removed, her bone evened out and four implants placed in both her lower and upper jaw, and a temporary denture attached. She chose this as she preferred not to see herself without teeth.
Cheryl had difficulty getting past the reality of removing the teeth she did have. They had to be removed as they were not in good shape. But, still it was hard for Cheryl.
It took some time for her team to work on her bite and get it perfect. She wore her temporary dentures for two years when she had her final set loaded in the summer of 2015. It was right before her return to another NFED Family Conference so the timing was perfect she said.
“I had fun this time, taking photos and meeting others,” said Cheryl.
Like anything new, it took a little to adjust to eating, to speaking, and even, to smiling.
“I could finally speak clearly now that my teeth were secure,” Cheryl said. “But, I had to accept my smile. All of my life, I covered my mouth. Now, I go by a mirror and I practice my smile! Taking selfies has been a great way to celebrate.”
With her new smile in place, Cheryl wanted to complete her desired physical transformation. She got contacts instead of glasses and has lost 50 pounds so far in her quest to become healthier and stronger.
Having endured a childhood of bullying and tension at home, Cheryl’s had a hard time learning how to let friends into her life and challenges. Her physical issues caused psychological stress for her. But, she reached out to find people to help her and it’s working.
“I want to tell others with ectodermal dysplasia to never give up. Keep looking for the right dentists and doctors. It took me 10 years trying to find the right help but I did. I took pictures along the way and it was great to see my transformation. It’s amazing when you hit rock bottom and come back from that!”
Cheryl is grateful to the NFED for their help.
“Mary and Kelley at the NFED were very patient with me. We had lots of emails and phone calls. They were great support for me through the ups and downs of my treatment. I appreciate the NFED’s funding to help me get my care.
Today, Cheryl’s working out, eating better and helping her friend, who’s a single mom. She’s gained confidence and is transforming herself for the better every day.
“I’m getting there!”
Other posts you may be interested in:
- Top 10* Most Common Ectodermal Dysplasias
- Ectodermal Dysplasias: How Nails Can Be Affected
- FREE Things to do in St. Louis
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