When Tré J. DeFelice DDS talks about how improving a person’s smile can change their life, he talks from personal experience.
When he was only 12 years old, DeFelice broke both his front teeth at summer camp.
“They were a little more than 50 percent gone,” he says. “It was pretty traumatic. Our family dentist told me I had to wait until I was 18 to get crowns, so I had to go through a good part of high school with no front teeth.”
Finally, the summer before his senior year, his parents took him to a different dentist.
“A couple of hours later, they were fixed,” he says. “Needless to say, it was a big deal for me.”
The experience made such a mark on DeFelice that he eventually decided he wanted to offer the same kind of life-changing experience for others.
Over the past 10 years in private practice in Metairie and Belle Chasse, DeFelice has helped countless regain their smiles, but one particular case stands out as both one of the more challenging – and rewarding.
“There was this gentleman that I began working with a few years ago,” DeFelice says, “his teeth were breaking down from excessive wear and he had a lot of cavities. He had been doing minimal treatment with another dentist, but not long after he came to me and we started talking, he confided that he was actually really conscious of his smile – especially his front six to eight teeth, which were really worn down.”
After addressing the man’s cavities, DeFelice got him on a “good home care regiment,” for a while before moving on to a gum lift.
“A while after he had recovered, he came to me and said that he had set aside the time and money to really finish things,” DeFelice says. “This was about a year to 18 months after meeting him.”
DeFelice then went about installing a combination of eight crowns and veneers.
“He wore his temporaries for almost two months and he was already so happy,” he says. “But when he finally got the permanents in, it was incredible. I was almost in tears and he was in tears, and I’m thinking, ‘This is what it’s all about.’”
While it was a much lengthier road, DeFelice was able to give his patient the same gift another dentist had once given him. He gave him back his smile.
“I got to make a dramatic difference in someone’s life,” he says. “And get to know a great guy along the way.”
1900 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 833-4300, DeFeliceDental.com
10 years in practice; B.S. from Louisiana State University; DDS from Louisiana State University School of Dentistry; Native of New Orleans