For years Bentley Hornak felt held back by her teeth. Since childhood, she has experienced genetically extreme circumstances. In fact, Bentley didn’t have a front tooth until the eighth grade and was in and out of braces until adulthood. With so much shame and embarrassment associated with her teeth, Bentley often talked with her hand in front of her mouth, smiled flat-lipped in school pictures or even refused to speak at all — which ultimately hindered her naturally outgoing personality.
After visiting countless dentists and orthodontists, each one offering a stale and sometimes traumatic solution for Bentley’s condition, it was recommended she visit Dr. Paul Koch of Koch Aesthetic Dentistry. She admits when she and her husband first walked into Dr. Koch’s office, they felt hopeless. “My husband and I were feeling so low and didn’t know if there was anybody that could take on my case,” she explains. “Dr. Koch was definitely the first person who was immediately so confident. He was like, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ And it didn’t involve trauma or shaving off part of my tongue or breaking my jaw. It was almost just disbelief in what he was saying, but it was his confidence that took us aback.”
It was then Dr. Koch suggested a full mouth reconstruction for Bentley. For a procedure such as this one that can feel overwhelming, Dr. Koch takes the time to listen to and educate his patients, ensuring they know what is happening throughout the process. “There’s a tremendous amount of time we devote to not only educating our patients, but we listen and address those [negative] emotions to show the path,” he says. “People need hope, and hope is a remedy for a lot of those negative emotions. We never, ever judge anybody — we don’t make a person feel worse about the situation that they’re in.”
In addition to Dr. Koch’s confidence and patience, Bentley was also impressed by his team’s excitement about getting to know her story. She says she felt like more than just number and immediately felt right at home. “[Dr. Koch] is not one of those doctors who grows a big practice and doesn’t have time for you anymore,” she says. “It’s still a lot of the same people and very personal.”
Bentley also takes note of the office’s ambiance, admitting it doesn’t feel like a regular dentist. “[The office] is so comfortable and relaxing. I’ve been in so many dentists’ offices, and there’s nothing clinical about it,” she explains. “To me, it’s a break where I can watch HGTV or the Food Network, and I’m kind of bummed when it’s over because that was my relaxing moment in the afternoon.”
Dr. Koch admits the time he takes to get to know his patients is something he places a lot of value on, as he believes it makes him a better doctor and healer. “One of the things I think about all the time is that we have never had a tooth walk into the office. Every tooth that has ever come in has been attached to a person,” he says. “People come in with a lot of interesting and sad and exciting stories about how they got to where they are, and if I don’t understand that part, then I’m not going to be a very good doctor … because if I don’t understand where they’ve been, I’m not in a good place to try and help them get to a better place.”
Since having her full mouth reconstruction, Bentley’s life has drastically changed in more ways than one. The process took time and healing, but she admits even the steps leading up to the final product boosted her confidence. She now serves as a public speaker for the American Heart Association, as she suffers from a unique heart condition. This is something she never would have done before her procedure. “I have a lot of heart issues, and I ended up doing public speaking for the American Heart Association in front of large groups of people, and that was only because of what my smile did for me. It finally matched my person and my soul,” Bentley explains.
And because of her heart condition, Bentley has rarely left the house due to COVID-19; however, Koch Aesthetic Dentistry was the very first place she visited since the pandemic began. “I’ve literally not left the house or my backyard, but I was so excited to go to the dentist. My family knows that they’re going to take every precaution above and beyond what was required for my safety,” she says.
Bentley’s story is not the only successful one, and Dr. Koch admits he can’t do it all alone. Backed up by other passionate professionals, he admits the best part of his job is watching patients excel after visiting his office. “Everybody who I have with me on the staff side is here because they want to be,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s about what we can give back and what we can do for people. I love to hear all of the things [patients] are able to do when we remove the one thing that’s holding them back. We never forget that part of it. It’s so important.”
Koch Aesthetic Dentistry is located in the Sirote & Permutt Building in Southside at 2311 Highland Ave., Ste. 323, Birmingham, AL 35205. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to book a consultation or appointment, call (205) 203-0759 or visit kochaesthetics.com.
This article is sponsored by Koch Aesthetic Dentistry.