Transforming Lives Through Quality Care

Transforming Lives Through Quality CareMarlene Zimmerman couldn’t be more grateful for the dental care she has received at the UCLA Dental Clinics. In 2006, Marlene became a patient of the Hospital Dentistry Clinic, one of the many specialty clinics housed at the UCLA School of Dentistry in Westwood. She needed advanced care after suffering from medical complications associated with cancer. The Hospital Dentistry Clinic, which specializes in dental care for medically compromised patients, was a perfect fit for her dental needs.

Marlene’s complications began in 1997 when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – a cancer of the plasma cells. To treat her cancer, she underwent a stem cell transplant in 1998, at what is now, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Following her transplant, she was prescribed a drug called Zometa®, which is used to reduce and delay bone complications due to multiple myeloma. The transplant worked and her cancer is now in remission. However, soon after she began to regularly take Zometa®, she began to experience one of the drug’s rare side-effects – osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). ONJ is a severe bone disease that can result in loss of teeth and bone. Over time, Marlene lost all of her lower teeth and could no longer chew solid food.

To treat the ONJ, Marlene and her family sought the best dental care they could find. Because of her successful experience with the UCLA Medical Center, she contacted the UCLA Dental Clinics to make an appointment with specialists, Dr. Eric Sung, Professor of Clinical Dentistry and Director of the Hospital Dentistry Clinic and Dr. Evelyn Chung, Associate Clinical Professor, both from the Section of Hospital Dentistry in the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics.

Today, Marlene has a full set of lower dentures and is able to eat solid food. Instead of focusing on the discomfort and appearance of not having her lower teeth, she can now go back to being a celebrated watercolor artist. She can also enjoy being a grandmother to 11 grandchildren, her most important job yet. Despite needing monthly check-ups, Marlene’s condition has greatly improved, as well as her quality of life.

“I’m always going to need on-going treatment,” said Marlene. “I’m just glad that I found the UCLA Dental Clinics. Drs. Sung and Chung take phenomenal care of me and are concerned about my well-being. That means a lot to my family.”