Past and Present

Early Life

Born in West Virginia, Sonja often shares her true story of childhood abuse, neglect, recovery, forgiveness and triumph. At the age of twelve years old, her dentist wrote “Situation-Hopeless” on her dental records and proceeded to extract all of her teeth leaving her to begin wearing dentures at the age of thirteen. Severe dental problems that went untreated for years condemned Sonja to a hellish nightmare of loneliness, pain, denial and suffering no child should ever be subjected to. She endured years of physical and emotional neglect that denied her the simple pleasures of being able to eat, speak and smile with confidence.

Continuous Struggles

Even though she was surrounded by darkness, and doctors had marked her case “situation hopeless” something greater than the pain kept Sonja alive each day. She never wavered from her undying faith that one day she would be surrounded by ‘Earth Angels’ rather than the pain, suffering and loneliness she had known as a child. 25 years after the natural teeth were extracted, the bone which surrounded the natural teeth (alveolar bone) had been resorbed, which is a natural sequel to tooth loss, leaving the basilar bone of the upper (maxilla) and lower (mandible) jaws. The posterior ridge of the lower jaw was increased in height by surgically placing an artificial bone substitute (hydroxylapatite). Four endosseous dental implants had been surgically placed in the bone at the extension of the lower jaw. Attachments were added to supplement the retention and stability of the lower complete denture project into the mouth from two of the implants. Then  two other implants were submerged below the top of the ridge.


After the birth of her daughter, Sonja realized that she must not repeat the patterns of ignorance and neglect that plagued her childhood. She must break the cycle – for there is no greater love or lesson in life than being a mother to a precious child. Today, Ms. Lauren’s speaking engagements are a personal and powerful testimony about the importance of good oral health and the role of those working within dentistry.  Ms. Lauren’s ability to captivate, mesmerize, and educate her audiences, has created a mass call for her lectures across America since the release of her story, The Covered Smile in 2003.

Sonja does not just speak about dental issues. Sonja has lived it. Her personal experiences and the impacts they have had on her life are far deeper than any of us will ever know. So many times, speakers, consultants, and experts are recommended based on their academic or business knowledge. Sonja moves people to take action because she has that unique ability to truly convey to her audiences what her life has been like and how that has shaped her passion to help those in need.

“Her words and the sharing of her experiences can help you.”

Richard D. Shinn
Director of Government Affairs
Virginia Community Healthcare Association

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