A new set of teeth a big present for one recent graduate
SUMMARY: While some graduates are hoping for shiny new cars at graduation, Katie Westbrook is hoping for a new set of pearly whites.
Posted: June 2, 2014
While many recent high school graduates are excitedly anticipating college or a job, Concord, California, senior Katie Westbrook has a unique oral health event she's looking forward to: getting a new set of teeth.
Westbrook suffers from a condition called oculofaciocardiodental (OFCD) syndrome, which has caused her to have several surgeries, as well as go completely blind. She is also missing several of her teeth - according to the San Francisco Gate, she currently only has 17 teeth.
OFCD syndrome affects many systems of the body, including the eyes, facial features, cardiovascular system and oral health. Currently affecting one in 1 million people, the condition only occurs in females. This is due to OFCD being inherited through the x-chromosome - because males are only born with one X chromosome, the mutation is considered lethal in fetal development.
While one of the main side effects of the syndrome is being born with a hole in your heart, OFCD also causes a delay in the loss of baby, or primary, teeth, missing teeth as well as extremely small teeth and defective tooth enamel, which can make the mouth much more susceptible to cavities as well as several other oral health issues.
Westbrook hasn't let her oral health or other health conditions slow her down, however. Katie was part of student leadership in her school, and was also a member of her school choir.
Over the past year, Westbrook's mother, Jennifer, has been raising money for Katie to undergo a surgery that will give her a new smile. While some individuals get the procedure for purely cosmetic purposes, Katie's is being done for medical reasons as well: According to the Gate, the lack of tooth enamel and enlarged roots has made Katie more likely to be overcome with infections, some of which may stem from cavities, which could travel to her bloodstream and heart.
However, despite the procedure being largely health-related, the Westbrook's insurance will not cover the surgery, so Jennifer has been raising money through a GiveForward campaign called, "Give Katie a Super Smile!"
As of June 2, 2014, more than $17,400 has been raised for Katie's surgery, which her mom is considering her graduation present.
"The dental thing is critical for her health and for her self-esteem," Jennifer told the San Francisco Gate. "It's critical for her future, for employment. As a blind person if you can have a bright smile doors can open."