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Dentist who overcame oral challenges now serves others

San Antonio (Sept. 22, 2003) — Why does young local dentist Sarah Tevis get to hobnob with ABC-TV's Barbara Walters next month in New York? She has been selected to receive the national Remarkable Woman Award from Personal Products Co., a division of McNeil-PPC Inc.

Dr. Tevis, 27, a May graduate of the Dental School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC), will be a guest on "The View with Barbara Walters." KSAT-TV, Channel 12, in San Antonio airs the show Tuesdays through Saturdays at 2:35 a.m. Dr. Tevis will be in New York Oct. 3-6 for taping.

Dr. Tevis is a resident in advanced education in general dentistry at the UTHSC Dental School. She is learning to treat the most challenging cases, including medically compromised patients, and plans to work in private practice with hopes of teaching one day after her residency program is completed.

But that's only half her story. Personal experience has given Dr. Tevis the ability to help patients overcome oral challenges. Her mother, Susan Scott, nominated her for the Remarkable Woman Award.

The Waco native was born with ectodermal dysplasia, which causes abnormalities of sweat glands, tooth buds, hair follicles and nail development. Many patients undergo treatment for missing or malformed teeth. "Dr. Brad Willis, my pediatric dentist who practices in Waco, was a big influence in my decision to choose dentistry as a career," Dr. Tevis said. "I had a rare condition not many people knew about, but he figured it out and referred me to the National Institutes of Health for further treatment. I went there for about five years to be part of a study. I also consider my dentist at NIH, Dr. Al Guckes, to be an important mentor and dear friend to this day."

She attended Midway High School in Waco. After graduation, she made the transition to Texas Tech University, where she received her baccalaureate degree in 1998. The next year she was accepted to the UTHSC Dental School, where she received a research fellowship from the American Association for Dental Research and conducted a study of ectodermal dysplasia in the pediatric dentistry department under mentor Mary MacDougall, Ph.D. She also volunteered to help with Miles for Smiles, which benefits mouth rinse and tooth sealant programs in San Antonio elementary schools. She graduated with the designation Research Honors.

Dr. Tevis is on the Board of Directors for the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia. As a member of the Family Services Committee, she visits with dentists and families throughout the country. She reviews treatment plans and gives families valuable wisdom about their course of action. She also serves on the Treatment Fund Committee, which provides support for patients who need dental care. "We allocate thousands and thousands of dollars to fix these problems," she said. "A typical treatment plan could be $30,000 or $40,000."

Ectodermal dysplasia syndromes affect as many as 7 in every 10,000 live births. There is no cure at the present time. Nonetheless, dentists such as Dr. Sarah Tevis are making a great difference in patients' quality of life. "I enjoy being able to impact my patients and help them feel proud of their smiles," she said. "I am lucky to be passionate about what I do and feel like I make a difference in people's lives."

On Oct. 6 in New York, she will get to enjoy standing on stage with Barbara Walters and being recognized as a truly deserving Remarkable Woman.

Note: Media are invited to schedule a time to take pictures of Dr. Tevis with patients in the UTHSC Dental Clinic. Please call the External Affairs Office at (210) 567-2570.

Contact: Will Sansom