When you meet Crystal Loffland, you’d never guess it by her friendly demeanor, but she’s actually in a great deal of pain. For the past ten years, she has woken with it, gone to work with it, raised her children and even helped raise a grandchild with it. And we’re not talking about a dull headache. As Crystal describes it, “It would rather have the pain of childbirth than this kind of pain.”
The pain Crystal is referring to began when her wisdom teeth came in and began to crowd their way into her mouth. “Over time, the teeth can twist and distort to the extent that tooth decay and gum disease can take hold,” explained Madiha Yasir, DDS. “In Crystal’s case, the damage became severe enough that virtually all of her teeth will need to be replaced.”
Don’t grin. Just bear it.
The mother of four children, Crystal found it difficult-to-impossible to afford the dental care she needed over the years. “When you have kids, the kids come first,” she said, “That’s just the way it is and should be.”
In addition to unbearable pain, her progressively worsening condition has proven to be a challenge in her job as well. As the manager of Jimmie’s Family Diner, greeting and serving customers is an important part of her responsibilities.
“I’m very self-conscious about it,” Crystal admits, “These days, a lot of people assume you have a drug problem when they see someone with bad teeth. It’s just hard to do the kind of job I want to do and represent Jimmie’s the way I want to when I can’t greet our customers with a smile.”
Serving Hotcakes; Getting Hopecare
Last year, Crystal was among the staff who served GraceMed’s guests at Hotcakes for Hopecare. When the event was over, GraceMed wanted to express our appreciation for Jimmie’s sponsorship of the event. Together with owners Jack, Linda and Joe Davidson, we decided to provide dental care for an employee whose need was greater than her means.
“When they told me, I just cried,” Crystal said. “So did several of my coworkers and my kids. The cost was so much more than I could do on my own, and they all know how much pain I had been in.”
“Crystal is just such a strong person,” said Joe Davidson. “She’s always been driven to give her very best for her team at the restaurant, her family and her friends despite the pain she is always in. We couldn’t be happier that this blessing has come her way.”
An “in kindness” donation
The restorative work, which will be done by Dr. Yasir, will be completed over the next few months at Crystal’s request to minimize the time she will need to be away from her duties at Jimmie’s.
“The wait staff and cooks at Jimmie’s were so eager to help us put on our Hotcakes event,” Dave Sanford (retired CEO as of Jan 2020), recalled. “They know us and wanted to help serve our mission. The care we are providing for Crystal is just a very real and meaningful way for us to say thanks.”
As for Crystal, she looks eagerly forward to leaving the pain she has endured for the last 10 years behind. But there’s another kind of pain she plans to lose too. “Maybe it’s not right but you can’t help feeling bad about yourself when you have to hide your smile. I’m really looking forward to showing everyone just how happy someone’s kindness can make you.”
When we last met Crystal Loffland, she was bravely facing a long series of dental procedures to completely replace her smile. A plan was drawn up for Crystal to receive her care over the course of a year so she could continue to work.
“Multiple appointments were necessary to achieve the desired outcome,” said Andrea Boothe, DDS. “Crystal was such a delight to work on as she was so kind and grateful at each phase of the treatment plan even when some steps can be uncomfortable. We were all very pleased to make this kind of difference for her.
Crystal will readily tell you the change has been dramatic. “It’s wonderful to be able to greet customers with a smile,” she says, “but I’m surprised at how much it’s done for my confidence. I’ve always been a confident person, but now it’s like I just have a whole new outlook. I’ve lost some weight, I feel healthier and I’m getting out socially more. The kids are really happy for me and glad to see the new me.”
Joe Davidson, Crystal’s boss, is also happy for her. “We’re grateful that GraceMed was able to do this for Crystal. My family and I really believe in the difference it makes when people care enough to help someone in need. That’s why we want to be a part of the ‘Hotcakes for Hopecare‘ event. We want to support the life-changing impact GraceMed can make.”
The thing about smiles is they can either hide or reveal how you feel. Crystal lived with a lot of pain for many years of her life and still found plenty of reasons to wish she could smile. Now the pain is gone and in its place is a grin so warm and genuine, it’s actually contagious.