Student’s TLC Helped a Removable-Prosthesis Patient Get Through Delays

Making a good set of dentures can take time, as it did for Jesus Lopez Luna. Then the pandemic meant he would have to wait an additional three-plus additional months to get them. But the attention of a conscientious student meant he felt cared for and helped him through the unavoidable delay.

“The week we had to shut down for COVID-19, the week of March 15, we were going to deliver his dentures,” said Elizabeth Lukens, the UMKC School of Dentistry student who had been working on the dentures since November. “I felt so bad he had to wait so much extra time to get them.”

But Lopez was “super understanding,” said Lukens, now a fourth-year DDS student. And to compensate, Lukens kept in touch with frequent updates till students could resume in-person operations.

“I told him he would be the first person I called once we could open,” she said. “I tried to reassure him the best I could. We hoped for a June reopening, but then that was pushed back to July.”

Lopez took it all in stride, and appreciated the care Lukens gave him.

“She got in touch with me several times, and gave me hope,” said Lopez, who first learned about the School of Dentistry’s clinics through his physician. “I was so happy when she texted me that my dentures were ready.”

All went well with Lopez’s two follow-up visits, and by mid-July he could share his smile with everyone.

“Elizabeth did a good job,” he said, “and everything is working well for me.”

Lukens has finished her work for other patients she had when the campus shut down and now is working toward graduation in May. And she will always remember a certain especially patient patient.

“That’s the happiest I’ve ever seen a patient,” she said, recalling when she delivered Lopez’s dentures. “I’m so glad he’s out in the world now with his full smile.”