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'The lottery of a lifetime': North Iowan undergoes $50K smile makeover
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'The lottery of a lifetime': North Iowan undergoes $50K smile makeover

Second Chance - updated 1

Laura Baumann talks about the excitement she is feeling ahead of her full-arch restoration dental procedure on Friday.

Laura Baumann and her husband, John, were all smiles while they waited in the lobby of North Iowa Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center Friday morning.

Baumann, 53, of Leland, was awaiting her complimentary full-arch restoration procedure as a recipient of the second annual Second Chance program.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “I didn’t think it’d ever come.”

Baumann and Amanda McMurray, of Mason City, were named the center’s program recipients in November.

As Second Chance program recipients, the women are receiving complimentary full-arch restoration procedures, which typically cost up to $50,000, to replace broken, decayed and missing teeth with custom implant-supported dentures that work as permanent, fully functioning and natural-looking teeth, according to North Iowa Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center.

The program was created by Drs. Lyell Hogg and Christopher Kepros, oral and maxillofacial surgeons at North Iowa Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center, to improve the health and overall quality of life for local recipients who have extensive tooth loss, damaged and decayed teeth and are unable to afford proper treatment.

“It feels good to know the skills that we have and the training we went through can do something that really can make a big difference for people,” Kepros said.

Baumann’s procedure, which was scheduled to take more than three hours Friday, involved the extraction of all her teeth and the placement of eight dental implants in her upper and lower jaw.

Second Chance - update 2

Laura Baumann's dental scans are displayed on a screen in her patient room ahead of her full-arch reconstruction surgery on Friday.

Since Baumann met with Kepros and her restorative dentist Dr. Nathan Hehr from the Nettleton Dental Group in November, she’s had several appointments to prepare for the hours-long procedure, but she said she was anxious, nervous and excited waiting to be called back for it.

John said he and Baumann couldn’t hardly sleep last night because of their excitement for the procedure.

“This is like winning the lottery,” he said with a huge grin.

“The lottery of a lifetime,” Baumann added.

Baumann works in the food service department at Forest City High School and as a housekeeper at the Forest City YMCA.

She has been living with only four teeth for at least a decade, and she said her confidence has continued to decline in that time.

Baumann decided to apply for the program in hopes of improving her future oral health and receiving “a nice smile for the kids,” her 30th wedding anniversary and her 35th class reunion in Des Moines this year.

Baumann is the caregiver for her husband who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than a year ago, and that’s changed their lives drastically.

“It’s definitely a life-changer,” she said.

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After the procedure, Baumann is expected to return to the dental center in about two weeks for a post-operation appointment and evaluation.

And in three or four months, she’ll meet with Hehr to have her restorative care completed, Kepros said.

“He gets the most fun part because that’s when all of a sudden the big difference happens,” he said.

Baumann said she’s restricted to a soft food diet for a couple weeks after her procedure, which she’s become fairly accustomed to given the prior condition of her teeth.

She, and her husband, are looking forward to enjoying a steak dinner — something she hasn’t had in quite some time — after she recovers from the procedure to celebrate her new smile.

“This is just an amazing program,” Baumann said.

Baumann and McMurray were selected out of nearly 400 applicants — more than triple the applications North Iowa Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center received the first year.

Each applicant was asked to share a detailed personal story about why they should be selected as the Second Chance program’s recipient as well as a photo of the current state of their teeth.

Because of the number of applicants and their inspiring stories, Hogg and Kepros decided to offer two smile makeovers.

McMurray, 31, a single mother of five children, works full-time at Little Angel’s Child Care and Preschool in Mason City. She has avoided critical dental treatment for years because of a traumatic dental experience when she was a child.

She said she applied for the program because she wanted a better smile and more confidence, but never thought she’d get it.

McMurray’s full-arch restoration procedure likely won’t take place for at least a year, said Sara Neumann, a spokesperson for the dental center, because Hogg has salvaged some of her teeth and is trying to get her braces first.

The dental center is partnering with Straumann Dental Implant Company, Dentsply Sirona, May Dental Lab and Mason City restorative dentists Hehr and Dr. Noemi Cruz-Orcutt from Mint Springs Dentistry for this year’s program.

Second Chance is among three programs North Iowa Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center offers. It also launched Wisdom for Wisdom and Academic Advantage programs last year.

The programs are Hogg and Kepros’ way of giving back to the community that’s supported their practice.

For more information about North Iowa Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center or its programs, visit

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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