Chicago dentist provides carjacking victim with new smile

March 21, 2012

While he was watching the late night television news broadcast in Chicago recently, cosmetic dentist Jack Manikowski was touched by the story of an 18-year-old man who had been bruised and bloodied while being dragged along the street during a carjacking. The victim also suffered several broken teeth.

While he was watching the late night television news broadcast in Chicago recently, cosmetic dentist Jack Manikowski was touched by the story of an 18-year-old man who had been bruised and bloodied while being dragged along the street during a carjacking. The victim also suffered several broken teeth.

Manikowski was eating dinner with his wife, Lana, when he saw the story, and knew he wanted to help. 

“He was an innocent victim,” said Manikowski, owner of Lincoln Park Smiles in Chicago. “He had his hand over his mouth when he was talking and you could tell his mouth had been injured.”

In October, the young man, Edwin Rodriguez, was in a car waiting for his brother to get off of work at a hotel in Chicago when someone came up to the car and told him the vehicle had a flat tire. When Rodriguez got out to look, one of the thieves allegedly got in and began to drive away. Rodriguez grabbed the door and was dragged a city block before he was able to let go.

Seeing the young man on T.V., Manikowski was not sure if Rodriguez covered his mouth because he was in pain or was embarrassed about how his broken front teeth now looked. After learning a bit more about Rodriguez through stories in the media, Manikowski reached out to him and made an offer to help the young man restore his smile.

“He comes from a very nice, hardworking family that clearly didn’t have the means to take care of a cosmetic problem,” the dentist said.

At the first appointment, Manikowski discovered that teeth 7, 8 and 9 had been severely fractured, but were still vital. He estimates that it has taken 8 hours of work over three appointments to fix the broken teeth.

“The treatment was scaling and root planing and subsequently one long appointment for direct bonding," Manikowski sasid. "Fortunately, he didn’t need implants or any interdisciplinary intervention.”

Manikowski, who has been in practice for 15 years, has previously volunteered to help restore the smiles of women affected by domestic abuse through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Give Back a Smile program. He said it’s not unusual for dentists to encounter patients of limited means, and he was glad this time to be able to help a young person who needed it.

“We all see patients that don’t go through with treatment because of a lack of financial resources,” he said. “But (this case) looked like a slam dunk cosmetic case. It could be an immediate fix.”

After learning of Manikowski’s offer, Rodriguez said in a local television news story that he was overwhelmed by the dentist’s desire to help him.

"I'm speechless because I didn't think anybody would offer me anything. I'd like to say 'Thanks' to him and I appreciate it a lot,” Rodriguez said.