LUBBOCK, Texas — Nellie Hopson, 68, U.S. Army veteran, of Slaton, had the opportunity of a lifetime last fall — the chance to smile with confidence. Nellie discovered that she was the latest recipient of Lubbock’s fifth annual Smiles For Soldiers program with Hill & Iopollo Oral and Dental Implant Surgery.
“Smiles For Soldiers…the intent was to be able to provide people with the kind of care they need after they separate from the military,” Dr. Robert Iopollo told KLBK News on Tuesday. “I’ve been an active duty dentist for years, so I know the kind of care you get while you’re in the military is top notch, but when you get out…”
Hopson said, “We don’t get anything after I leave the military and my teeth were really bad.”
Last November, Hopson, who is now an LPN contract nurse and COVID vaccine, began her journey to a new smile. She had significant tooth loss and wrote in her application that her smile shows confidence in her patients, and she thinks having a new smile will not only help her show her confidence in others, but give her more of self-confidence.
Hill and Iopollo announced the recipient of the 2021 Smiles For Soldiers program on Veterans Day, and Hopson said she was thrilled to hear they chose her.
“It’s always difficult because there are a lot of people who deserve [and] many people who need it. We look at the medical history, the dental history, the fact that she needed the procedure and wanted the procedure,” Dr. Iopollo explained.
When he invited her to the office to tell her of the surprise, “She came to the door and all my staff said, ‘I like her. I love her so much.'”
Having a new smile means Hopson can make a difference in the lives of those she interacts with.
“In my job, I do education, and I think it will be a lot easier now for people to believe me if they see my face. They’ll know I know what I’m talking about,” Hopson shared.
Dr Iopollo added: “You are a nurse. You are an expert on the subject. You smile, you are happy and you are confident in what you say. It definitely improves your message and your credibility.
A week after the procedure, Hopson said she hadn’t stopped smiling and was healing without pain or complications. Dr. Iopollo said she had four months of follow-up visits before her full makeover was complete.