Ruby Attwood was feeling drab when she asked her friend Pennie Hanna to snap a tight-lipped photo and email it to INSPIRED Senior Living magazine to enter the Makeover Contest in March. She had no idea the simple act would change her life.
A resident of Victoria’s Rose Manor, Ruby has lived a full and interesting life, one blessed by excellent health in all but one area: her teeth. Years of receding gums and ill-fitting dentures had left her mouth in chaos and pain. Advanced decay denied her a long list of favourite foods, and limited finances denied her any chance of relief. A positive person by nature, Ruby was so embarrassed by her teeth she rarely smiled, especially for the group photos so often taken at residence events.
When she chose to share these personal details in her makeover email, Ruby touched INSPIRED Publisher Barbara Risto’s heart. She also set in motion a series of behind-the-scenes events that would profoundly impact the Scottish emigre’s quality of life.
The Long Road from Scotland
Ruby emigrated from Scotland in 1947 and landed in Toronto, which she says was a small town then. Not long after her arrival, she met her husband, Bill. The couple has been happily married for more than 67 years and raised four children together. While Bill worked, Ruby volunteered at the children’s school and later went on to become an educational assistant. At 70, she was invited to join the National Ballet School as a chaperone for travelling dancers. The position took her around the world and forged lasting friendships. To this day, principle dancers and prima ballerinas keep in touch with her.
“I’ll never forget it,” she says. “I love the ballet.”
When Bill took an early retirement, he and Ruby moved to Orillia, splitting the distance between their children and six grandchildren. On a trip to the west coast, however, the couple fell in love with Victoria and decided to make it their forever home. They arrived by train with only two suitcases and a cherished clock. They initially rented an apartment, where Ruby says Bill would have been happy to settle. But for her, cooking and cleaning had lost its lustre. Five-and-a-half years ago, they moved into Rose Manor retirement residence and have never looked back.
“It’s paradise in the heart of Victoria,” says Ruby.
At 87 and 88, respectively, Ruby and Bill maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes staying active and eating whole foods. In addition to attending a fitness class – taught by Bill – three times a week, Ruby relies on her bike, Fido, as her primary transportation when the weather suits. The couple also walks regularly and uses the stairs (not the elevator) to get to and from their suite. Remarkably, perhaps, she is also medication-free and only takes Vitamin D, B12 and a daily dose of fresh, grated ginger in her morning fruit compote.
“If you have wealth, it means nothing without your health,” she says.
A Toothy Transformation
The one area with which Ruby was not feeling particularly healthy or happy was her teeth. So, when she received the call from Barbara Risto inviting her for a complimentary visit to BC Perio, an incredulous Ruby leapt at the chance.
“When Barbara phoned and told me,” says Ruby, pausing to catch her breath, “I get emotional because it was such a gift.”
BC Perio’s Dr. Bobby Birdi, a dual certified specialist in periodontics and prosthodontics, says Ruby reminded him of other grandmothers he’s met — the ones who put their families first while relegating their own needs to the back burner. Since she was in good health, Ruby was an excellent candidate for teeth-in-one-day implants and new dentures.
Dr. Birdi says teeth-in-one-day work for almost everyone, even people who’ve been missing teeth for a very long time. Age isn't a factor; overall health is of primary importance. BC Perio typically treats patients between 50-90-years old and, to date, they've never turned away a patient healthy enough to tolerate the procedure. The local anesthetic is identical to that administered for a filling, and patients are constantly monitored for health and comfort.
Ruby’s daughter, Heather, flew in from Toronto to meet her mother in Vancouver for her visit to BC Perio. When the procedure was complete, Ruby was handed a mirror to gaze at her new grill. “I wanted to dance when they showed me my teeth,” says Ruby. “It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I can’t believe it; I cry every time I look in the mirror.”
Ruby has nothing but praise for the procedure and her experience at BC Perio. “Dr. Birdi was just terrific!” she says. "He put me at ease and explained everything he was doing. It was so professional; it was so comfortable. There wasn’t a lot of pain, just the prick of a needle.”
Even a week post-procedure, Ruby experienced no discomfort and required no pain medication. She maintained the mandatory short-term soft-food diet (anything you can cut with a fork), but didn't have any swelling or bruising.
“Most patients can’t believe it’s done in one day,” says Dr. Birdi. “Our bodies are adaptive mechanisms.”
These Teeth Were Made for Smiling
Ruby received implants in her lower jaw, which stimulate the bone long term and never move, and a set of fully customized digital dentures up top. They not only look like real teeth, but feel like them, too.
“I feel so good! I feel like shouting from the rooftops,” says Ruby. “I’m sleeping better and I’m more relaxed. I feel like a different person.”
At home, Bill is constantly admiring his wife’s new teeth. He, too, is amazed by the transformation in not only her smile, but her confidence and levity. Their friends at Rose Manor gather ’round to cheer her on with “Smile, Ruby, smile.”
“I’m laughing and smiling all the time now,” she says.
So is the team at BC Perio. “It’s a testament to what can be done,” says Dr. Birdi. “Age didn’t matter. Ruby was a great patient. It’s an emotional experience when you can change a person’s life in one day. That makes it all worth it!”
In addition to her new smile, Ruby also received a fresh new look with hair and makeup by INSPIRED’s makeover team during the 55+ Lifestyle Show in Vancouver on September 23rd.
Typically, Ruby only wears “a wee bit of powder and lipstick,” so stylist Hana Akai kept that in mind when deciding how to bring out Ruby’s best features.
“She knows exactly what to do,” says Ruby. “The hair cut and colour is just lovely. Hana is a real pro and such a beautiful person.”
When Bill first laid eyes on his model wife, he couldn’t believe it. Even long-time neighbours at Rose Manor walked by Ruby and didn’t recognize her.
Special thanks to the entire INSPIRED Makeover team:
Implants and dentures – BC Perio’s Dr. Bobby Birdi. Call 604-872-0222 or visit www.bcperio.ca
Hair and Makeup Stylist – Hana Akai of Akai Hair Design
2559 Quadra St. Call Hana for details about hair and makeup 250-383-3227. Visit online at www.akaihairdesign.com
Hair products used: Hana used Arrojo Color shampoo and conditioner ($23.40 & $26 retail); it has Vitamin B5, which preserves colour-treated hair. She styled Ruby’s hair with the Arrojo Volume foam ($27.30 retail); it is lightweight and volumizing to lift, thicken and support the hair. Then she finished the look off with the Arrojo Primp hair spray ($33.80 retail); it's lightweight with pliable hold and is amazingly responsive to heat styling.
Clothing provided by Olsen Europe, Bay Centre, Victoria. Visit online at www.olseneurope.com
INSPIRED senior living october 2017
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