Thainara Ramos

As a young child growing up in South America, Thainara Ramos couldn’t open her mouth to speak properly or eat solid food. Her condition was caused by an untreated ear infection, which spread to her face, fusing shut the bones in her jaw.

Dr. Vincent Ziccardi of Rutgers Health University Dental Associates devised a long-term plan that would accommodate Ramos as she grew. Her case is an example of the dramatic transformations our doctors and dentists bring to light.

photo before and after treatment

“I feel unstoppable’’

When Ramos was 8, Dr. Ziccardi performed surgery to free up her jaw and promote growth.

A second procedure, called orthognathic surgery, completed when she was 17, corrected the position of her jaw structure. By the time she was 21, Dr. Ziccardi restored symmetry to her face through the insertion of custom-made, computer-generated implants.

Dr. Ziccardi, who practices in Rutgers Health University Dental Associates Newark office, is one of the top experts in his field and chair of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.

He changed Ramos’ life. “I don’t have that burden on the back of my shoulder saying, ‘Oh, you look a little different than everyone else,’ ” she says. “When you find hope, it’s sensational. Right now, I feel unstoppable.”

dr ziccardi and patient smiling