If Marsha Lampert flashed you a smile, you wouldn’t second-guess the pearly whites lining her mouth. For her, though, each one is a miracle.
“I never in my life thought I’d have teeth like these,” said Lampert, 56, of Hicksville. “I look like a movie star!”
For years, the condition inside Lampert’s mouth had been dire. Severe pain caused by mulitple complications, including dwarfism and dental ravage disease, left the Brooklyn native to live a debilitated life. “It was like a sledgehammer was constantly hitting my face, like my face was on fire,” she recounted. “I was losing my mental sanity.”
It was such a niche problem, she said, that the only recommendation by a dentist near her job in Florida was to remove every tooth and use dentures. “Hogwash,” she called the idea, but she had few options — until her move back to Long Island in 2016 and her return to Dr. Michael Schamis’s practice.
The North Bellmore dentist, who has been serving the Bellmore and Merrick area for nearly 45 years, was able to transform Lampert’s dental health not just with technical skills, but also with compassion and understanding, Schamis said.
“She’s comfortable with me,” Schamis, 72, told the Herald Life. “She’s been my patient — and friend — for a long time.”
When she was 5, an experience with anesthetic awareness — when a patient still has feeling despite being anesthetized — left Lampert with PTSD and a reluctance to find help. Lampert’s refusal to accept opioids or injected pain medication in her later years also created a need for alternatives, and Schamis had the solution.
Lampert finally overcame her trauma in 1983, when Schamis used hypnosis to ease her nerves. “It’s nothing mystical,” Schamis said. He’s been performing the calming procedure, which involves patients relaxing in the operating chair and being led to happy thoughts, since discovering it as a student at Ohio State University in the 1960s.
The hypnosis and strong doctor-patient relationship helped Lampert prepare for her procedure. It involved a root canal for every single tooth — all 32 — with crowns and dental prosthetics placed on top. By the end, Lampert was totally free of pain, she said.
Now, “we need to spread the word,” Lampert said. After the procedure’s completion in 2017, she authored a book, titled “Three Pastors and a Rabbi” — a reference to the 1987 film “Three Men and a Baby” — as a dedication to those who have helped her overcome her struggles. Its stories offer thanks to Schamis, clergy in Plainview and Hicksville and many others who would offer Lampert something as simple as a ride in their car.
The autobiography, partly subtitled, “Dental Prosthetics for a Dyslexic Dwarf,” is waiting to be printed and published, and should be released next year, Lampert said.
“I’m like a bird let out of a cage,” she said, “and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for everyone that helped me.”