For many, Veterans Day is about showing the men and women who served in the country’s armed forces the respect they deserve. It can be a solemn occasion; it’s not always you get to plant a literal smile on a veteran’s face.
But that’s just what Dr. Siavash Sedigh of Affordable Dentures and Implants in Albemarle County did.
Eighty-year-old Donald Brown was due for a new pair of dentures. He’d had his previous pair for 25 years. A quarter of a century is far longer than the five to seven years the American Dental Association recommends before replacing false teeth.
“They’ve been good to me as you can tell,” Brown told The Daily Progress sitting in Sedigh’s waiting room at Rio Hill Center.
That first pair cost him $300. And while it served him through the decades, lately he had noticed that the bottom set would come loose when he opened his mouth wide.
So he came to see Sedigh on Tuesday, hoping he could have them realigned for an affordable price. But he left with an even better deal.
“They sat me down and told me what they couldn’t do and then said, ‘Wait a minute, I’ll be right back,’” Brown said. “An hour later they came back and said they had a deal for me. I said, ‘You want to trade me?’”
The deal was that Brown would get a pair for free.
“You can’t beat the price,” Brown said.
Sedigh said that his practice had been planning to do this for a different veteran, but those plans were canceled due to that veteran’s health. Not long after, Brown walked in wearing a U.S. Air Force Veteran hat.
“I’m glad I wore the hat,” he said with a chuckle. “They’ll look better, and I’m sure they’re going to feel better not being loose.”
The process moved quickly. Brown had records of his upper and lower jaw taken on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the office made a wax mold of his jaws which was then used to create his dentures.
On Friday, The Daily Progress watched as he tried on his new teeth for the first time.
It turns out that denture technology hasn’t changed much since Brown received his first pair in the 1990s, when a gum infection caused him to lose his teeth.
Sedigh did note that the new pair is larger. The false gums in particular are longer, which will keep them stable.
“You see how it’s not moving?” Sedigh asked with his fingers in Brown’s mouth. “It’s because the walls are long.”
“I feel like I got a mouthful,” Brown said. “I guess I’ll have to get used to that.”
But he said he felt no pain, and after Sedigh made some adjustments, he left with a new smile fitting comfortably in his mouth.
Affordable Dentures has hundreds of clinics across the U.S., and Sedigh said some of the locations try to do this each Veterans Day.
Brown served in the Air Force from 1964 to 1968 as a member of the Armed Forces Police, mostly in New York City. It was an exciting place for Brown to be considering he was a fan of New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. If he wore his military uniform he got into games for free, he said.
Six decades later, Brown is living in Gordonsville with his wife, grandson and two great-grandchildren. It’s a full house.
“You want some?” Brown joked.
He’s had a makeover of sorts this week. In addition to the dentures, he also got a hearing aid in his right ear.
“All I need now is some hair,” he said with a chuckle.
Brown said he wasn’t expecting to receive the dentures until Monday, but Affordable Dentures expedited the process so he could have them for Veterans Day.
While Brown was the man of the hour, the clinic noted that it’s not just veterans who can get new teeth for a good price. The clinic accepts Medicaid and consultations are free. Anyone with Medicaid can receive a pair of dentures with no cost to the patient.
“I’m just proud to be a veteran. It’s nice to receive thanks for your service and a free lunch every once in a while,” Brown said. “Especially from this place. My goodness.”