Two sisters from Tennessee are about to receive the gift of a lifetime. They were born with a rare disorder that prevents them from growing teeth, but a Nashville surgeon is helping them smile.
Alissa Howard, 10, and her sister, Miracle, 16, have a condition called ectodermal dysplasia, which affects about 10,000 Americans.
The sisters have been teased by other kids for not having the ability to grow teeth.
"When I was younger, I got hurt, but the older I got, people said it didn't matter. It's not going to affect me when I'm older. It's not going to affect me. I let it roll off my back," Miracle Howard said.
Now, thanks to a Nashville doctor, that's all about to change. The 5th and 11th graders are about to undergo a massive procedure that will enhance their lives, both physically and aesthetically.
"This particular case tugged at my heart strings. When I met the girls, they were so happy and alive and engaged. We all fell in love with them, and I promised them I would do everything I could to enhance their lives," said oral surgeon Dr. Robin Daniel.
But it's been a long time coming. The girls' mom, Stephanie Howard, has experienced the nightmare with them, not knowing whether the problem could ever be fixed.
"Most insurance don't recognize it as a medical condition, which it should be considered a medical condition," Stephanie Howard said. "We would never be able to afford it on our own. So we're very thankful."
The family has spent months driving the more than three-hour trip back and forth from their hometown of Jasper, TN, to Nashville, but it is all well worth it.
"It's going to change the way people look at me. They'll stop calling me names," Alissa Howard said.
First, the girls will get bone grafts. Then, the doctor will install a set of implants that will look even better than most people's teeth. The first thing they want to do when it's over is smile.
"I hope they don't look at me funny because I have teeth now. I'm still the same person. I'm still going to be the same person I was before I had it," Miracle Howard said.
The doctor and his staff are donating their time to help the girls, and each surgery is expected to last about 10 hours.
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