The Smile That Brought Them Together, Again
DS4 student Colette Fuglaar handled a complicated denture case
and uncovered a love story tied to UNLV Dental
As a fourth-year dental student, Colette Fuglaar has become adept at answering patient questions, but one she received during the holiday season tugged at her heartstrings.
“Does this mean I won’t have my dentures by Christmas?”
The inquiry arose as Colette was explaining expected laboratory delays to her patient, Lamonte. Creating dentures for Lamonte had been challenging. He had a class III occlusion since birth, which, due to bone resorption and a case of combination syndrome, eventually worsened.
“I was struggling to create dentures for a mouth with two significant physiological conditions,” Colette said. “The first was a severe underbite, and the second is a lack of bone in his maxilla. He was continually pushing his upper dentures into place with his tongue, and wanted a new set that fit better.
“I discussed with my mentor, Dr. Jay Morgenstern, the option of setting his teeth so that his upper teeth touched his lower teeth in an edge-to-edge contact. This would help keep his upper set in place and give him greater functionality.”
However, with the holidays and the end of the year approaching, the laboratory had a higher-than-expected case load, which meant Colette’s model and wax rims would need more time to complete. Lamonte had hoped to show off his new smile to his family during their Christmas celebration. With this in mind, Colette became determined to meet that deadline, which meant she would create the wax rims and set the teeth herself.
“Dr. Morgenstern and I reviewed the process and special-ordered the necessary teeth,” Colette explained. “During the week before the end of the semester, we finished the wax rims, received and set the teeth, and did the test fit that Friday. I was happy with the work, but nothing could prepare me for the huge smile on Lamonte’s face and the tear he wiped away.”
Then Colette discovered she was part of a larger story.
Lamonte’s wife, Brenda, had accompanied him for the fitting. Initial small talk became conversation, which led to an explanation of how she and Lamonte met.
“Brenda told me that she and Lamonte were high school sweethearts which is already a lovely story,” Colette said. “Except that unfortunately, they went their separate ways and lost touch. Forty years later, Brenda came to the dental school for dentures. She loved the way they looked so much that she created a Facebook profile picture showing off her new smile.
“One day while checking her Facebook account, Brenda received a friend suggestion. It was Lamonte. She reached out to him because it was his birthday and the two began talking and recounting good times. Lamonte said she looked so beautiful with her new smile that he just had reach out to her. Exactly two months later, Lamonte moved to Las Vegas and married Brenda.”
According to Colette, Brenda returned to the dental school in 2015 to have her dentures relined. She brought Lamonte with her and encouraged him to consider the school for his new dentures. Lamonte became a patient through the Sgt. Clint Ferrin Memorial Veterans Clinic earlier that year. Colette’s determination paid off; she delivered Lamonte’s new dentures on December 18. Now the two have matching smiles.
“Both of them are extremely happy with Lamonte’s new teeth, which makes me feel good,” Colette said. “And Brenda raves about the work she received from alumnus Dr. Daniel Martin. She also credits the school for giving her a new smile that helped reunite her with Lamonte.”