The first thing Reed Harris wanted after getting dental implants was an apple.
“That and steak,” he said. “I grew up on a cattle ranch, so steak has always been a big part of my diet and it was hard to eat that. Corn on the cob was a big one, too.”
For Harris, being alive was nothing short of a miracle, but it came at a high cost. The 40-year-old man from Layton battled cancer twice as a child and again as a teen. He also faced a rare fungal infection, and surgeons were prepared to remove half his face to stop it from spreading. The infection, years of chemo and prescription medication left his oral health severely compromised.
"To be honest, my teeth looked like I was a meth addict. They were rotten. They were black," Harris said.
He felt like people were always staring and judging him based on his smile — or lack of a smile, since smiling or showing his teeth wasn’t something he enjoyed doing.
With piles of medical bills, it seemed that he could never afford the treatment needed to fix his teeth. In 2013, KSL did a news feature on Harris and his frustrations with the insurance not being willing to cover the costs of dental implants.
Dr. Kim Cassity, a licensed periodontist who provides everything from traditional periodontal care to advanced reconstructive procedures, read the KSL news story and immediately brought Harris into his South Ogden location.
“After meeting Reed and hearing his account of the dental problems that challenged him today as a result of side effects of medications he previously and currently was taking, we were of course concerned for him,” Cassity said. “It was at that point that I started to reach out to some of my strategic partners who might be interested in helping Reed. After sharing the KSL story with them, I received commitments from Nobel Biocare (an implant company), Treasure Dental Studio (a laboratory) and an excellent restorative dentist, Dr. Glenn Zeh. We were able to follow up with Reed and begin to restore his self-esteem, chewing ability and overall health.”
Four implants were placed in each arch to support fixed hybrid prosthetics. This life-changing treatment was completely free to Harris.
"This procedure changed everything for me,” Harris said.
Harris was freed from the challenges of removable prosthetics and was finally able to function normally in society. Employment opportunities became available that were not feasible in his pre-treatment condition. And today, the father of three can eat what he wants and isn’t embarrassed to smile.