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A Patient From The Past Travels Back For a Happy Reunion

I was driving in the car when my phone rang. A questioning voice on the other end said “Dr. Varney? This is Mike S---.” My mind started to race frantically. The name sounded familiar, but the context? Was it connected to the married kids and grandchildren, my extended family, my husband’s work, or the dental Practice? Thankfully, the voice continued. “I’m Margaret’s husband. We were patients of yours in Reston many years ago, until we moved away in 1996.”

Wow! This was truly a voice from the past that triggered wonderful memories. It soon created a dental challenge, and later caused many laughs with my family about how old I must be, to date back to obsolete dental technology, and was that as far back as the days of belt-driven drills?

There started a journey of some research for a creative solution to a hard problem, a wonderful renewed relationship turned friendship with “old” patients, and a happy ending for everyone.

On those hard work days that we all experience once in a while, I remember this wonderful experience, and it makes the bad day fade, it reminds me again why I “flunked” retirement and opened another dental practice. God created me to be a dentist so I could be a small part of my patients’ life stories, like this one. I am so thankful. It is a privilege and an honor.

Please read my patient’s version of this story. Thank you Margaret, for your trust and the gift of this wonderful experience.

Margaret’s Testimonial

A long time ago, I was a patient of Dr. Sandra Varney. I first sought her care way back in 1979, shortly after Dr. Varney had opened a new office in Reston. I had moved to northern Virginia 1976, and had been looking since my arrival for a dentist who could provide not only routine care, but could also assist me in implementing a solution to a dental problem that had created issues for me since I was a small child. That problem had to date been addressed by orthodontia, and then by a series of temporary prostheses. I had been advised by prior dentists in three different cities that I would at some unspecified later time be fitted with a conventional dental bridge.

Realizing as I did that a conventional bridge would require the removal of the enamel of several healthy teeth, thereby irrevocably compromising the structure of those teeth, I did some research and learned of a new prosthetic device, use of which minimally disturbed adjacent healthy teeth. My search for a northern Virginia dentist who had the expertise and confidence to work with me using this new technology that promised to provide me with a confident smile led me in 1979 to Dr. Varney.

Upon my first visit to Dr. Varney, I was impressed with her empathy, thoroughness, kindness and skill in evaluating my situation. After a few more visits entailing careful examination, x-rays and measurements, Dr. Varney designed and installed the new prosthesis. I was delighted with the result! I continued to visit Dr. Varney for routine dental care and monitoring until fall of 1996, when my husband and I moved away from the area.

I found excellent dental care at a major medical center near our new home. However, my new practitioner was concerned that the prosthesis installed in 1979 had become obsolete and should be replaced, preferably with implants. (After all, the prosthesis had been in continuous service for more than thirty years!) In order to initiate the implant process, I was referred to an oral surgeon who advised me, much to my disappointment, that I was not a good candidate for implants due to certain hereditary structural abnormalities. Because I had long ago understood the problems associated with a conventional dental bridge, and was now being advised that I could not be fitted implants, I believed that my options were becoming very limited.

In early 2016, my husband and I discussed the possibility of seeking a second opinion from Dr. Varney. Although we assumed that Dr. Varney had most likely retired in order to fulfill her dream of doing missionary work, we did some research and found that Dr, Varney had established a dental practice in Leesburg. In the words of one of her daughters, Dr. Varney had “failed retirement” and, after undertaking many missions providing dental care in third world locations, had returned to private practice. I was hoping that she would be willing to review my current dental status. My husband and I were extremely pleased when Dr. Varney agreed to schedule an appointment for me in early 2016.

Upon my arrival at Dr. Varney’s Leesburg office, I was welcomed as a long-time patient. Dr. Varney and her staff were wonderfully kind and reassuring from the outset of my first “return” visit. (They had even responded good-naturedly and flexibly when my appointment had been delayed, and had to be re-scheduled, due to a flight cancellation.) Dr. Varney, having reviewed my x-rays and dental records provided in advance of my visit, took great care to gather more data on my situation with a through exam, additional x-rays, and by consultation with several dental labs. Dr. Varney recommended creating an updated version of the dental prosthesis she had implemented for me in 1979. I immediately agreed with this approach and Dr. Varney went to work designing the new prosthesis.

At my second appointment, as the result of the meticulous measurements she had taken earlier, Dr. Varney was able to install the new prosthesis with minimal adjustment to fit and color. True to her exacting nature and attention detail, Dr. Varney’s minor adjustments yielded an excellent match to my natural teeth. Pleased and relieved, I was on my way with a wonderful new smile. My husband and I will return to Dr. Varney on a regular basis for verification that my smile will remain as functional, attractive, and comfortable as it was the day Dr. Varney (re)created it.

As Dr. Varney’s patient from 1979 to 1996, I had learned that she was extremely competent, meticulous and unfailingly kind. As Dr. Varney’s patient in 2016, I can attest that she is all that and much more now, given her additional years of experience and her focus on both function and aesthetics. I appreciate more than ever Dr. Varney’s empathy and flexibility, in light of her willingness to assist an “old” patient with a unique and difficult structural and cosmetic dental issue. I look forward to seeing Dr. Varney and her wonderful, accommodating staff on my follow-up visits.

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