Evolution Of A Smile

Compassionate dentist succeeds in erasing effects of genetic deformity.

Joshua and Annie Bundyposing in front of a lake and mountains

Joshua and Annie Bundy

The shimmering dance of green and purple light that is the aurora borealis is a phenomenon relatively few people see even once in their lifetimes. For Annie Bundy and her family, that magical light show is visible most every night.

Since graduating from college 12 years ago, Annie, 33, has lived in six states. She’s currently living in Alaska, where an opportunity to view the mesmerizing northern lights is just one of a long string of benefits.

“The winters are obviously quite long, and those days when you only get three or four hours of sunlight can be tough,” Annie reports. “But the culture and the sense of community are really special.

“Everybody is like family, and as a parent, you want a nice wholesome place to raise your kids. We found that here. My husband and I moved from Idaho a few years ago when a job opportunity opened for him, and we just love it.”

Annie’s migration to Alaska began in Pennsylvania and included a stop just after college in Guatemala, where she taught school for a year. All along the way, she has endured the difficulties that come from being born with Van der Woude syndrome.

A genetic disorder that results in structural deformities of the mouth, Van der Woude syndrome left Annie with a cleft lip and palate and virtually no teeth along her upper arch. That laid the foundation for a distressing childhood.

Meals From a Blender

“I was never the skinny kid either, so the cleft lip and palate were just two more things for kids to pick on and make fun of,” Annie laments. “The other thing was that I was always in surgeries to try to correct these things, so I was always in a lot of pain as a kid.

“The surgeries were to fill in the gaps in my lips and the roof of my mouth. Because of those surgeries, I mostly had to be on a liquid diet. I came to hate the fact that my meals came from a blender. Even later on, I could never eat like normal people.

As a teenager, she was fit with what amounts to a denture.

“But it was done rather carelessly, and so I’ve never bit into an apple in my life,” Annie laments. “Things like hamburgers and sandwiches, I could never bite into them either. I always had to cut them up. And it was still hard to chew because I only had five teeth on the upper left side of my mouth, and they were all compromised. Some only had partial roots, and none of them had enamel, so they were always weak and yellow.”

All through her school years, Annie’s appearance caused her to withdraw socially. She compensated by pouring herself into her studies, which paid off handsomely. After being named valedictorian in high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree at the age of 20.

Her appearance and poor dental function remained a concern, however, until she moved to Florida three years later and decided to visit the eventual founder of Health and Wellness Dentistry, Naved Fatmi, DMD, for a general consultation.

“Dr. Fatmi has given me a confidence that I never had before” – Annie

At the time of that 2011 appointment, Annie was missing 12 teeth across her upper arch and was wearing a rather crude-fitting bridge that attached on each side to one of the few teeth she had in the back of that arch.

“She came in asking about an aesthetic result that other dentists she’d visited would not commit to or promise,” Dr. Fatmi explains. “We took a pretty big chance committing to her case, but I was confident we could give her a result that would make her feel as if she wasn’t out of the norm.”

The lack of bone in Annie’s upper jaw ruled out replacing her missing teeth with dental implants, so to achieve his goal, Dr. Fatmi proposed creating a new bridge that he would fashion with the aid of digital technology.

“It sounds pretty simple, right? Just create a bridge,” Dr. Fatmi reasons. “The problem was that the teeth she does have were all misaligned, and so we had to add and subtract porcelain to make sure all the teeth in the bridge were in proper alignment.

“We worked hand in hand with a very good lab in doing that. It took us a little more than two months to make sure everything looked symmetrical and natural, but we got the result we wanted. And now, 10 years later, that bridge still looks perfect.

“There’s been no decay and no recurrent infection in her mouth at all. And part of that is because Annie has done such a great job practicing good dental health care. When patients do that, there’s no reason to redo anything or change anything.”

Compassionate Care

Annie typically returns to Florida once a year, in part to visit Dr. Fatmi. She says the work Dr. Fatmi did in fashioning the bridge has done as much to make her look and feel “normal” as any of the doctors she’s seen over the years.

“Dr. Fatmi has given me a confidence that I never had before,” she beams. “When I smile now, most people can’t even tell that I had a cleft lip and palate. And no one knows that my teeth aren’t real. I would say that Dr. Fatmi literally changed my life.”

Annie’s care recently included replacing a failing lower molar with a dental implant. Annie says that even when providing general maintenance, Dr. Fatmi displays a level of compassion beyond anything she has experienced from other health providers.

“Dr. Fatmi was the first dentist who ever put himself in my shoes and asked, If I was her, how would I want to look?” Annie relates. “Everybody else treated my situation as a job. He looked at me and asked, What’s the best possible scenario I can give her?

“After all this time, he still calls to check up on me and make sure everything is OK. That’s a part of dentistry you can’t teach. But Dr. Fatmi has that in him and so does everyone on his staff. They’re all truly top-notch.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo courtesy of Annie Bundy. js


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      Health and Wellness Dentistry has three convenient locations in South Florida and provides a full scope of dental care services that include cosmetic dentistry, comprehensive dentistry, restorative dentistry, emergency dental care, plus much ... Read More

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      Naved Fatmi, DMD, is a highly trained general, restorative and cosmetic dentist who received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He opened Town Square Dentistry in 2019 and is a member of t... Read More

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    • Aurelie Huyghues-Despointes, DMD

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