You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

After a brutal assault, U-M dentists help man get his true smile back

By Amy Biolchini

Sitting in a light blue dentist’s chair at the University of Michigan Dental School Thursday afternoon, 24-year-old Jean-Claude Soloman of Whitmore Lake sat patiently as doctors spread his jaw wide open to work on his teeth for about two hours.

As the doctors’ fingers and instruments stopped their buzz of activity, Soloman was finally able to release his fingers from their balled up position and relax his face.

Soloman casually spread his lips and examined his new smile — complete, with all of his front teeth neatly in a row — in a small mirror. He nodded quietly in approval.

For Soloman, the moment wasn’t a two-hour wait.

He's been waiting two years.

Walking alone on an October night in Ann Arbor in 2010, Soloman passed a man walking with a woman on Granger Avenue near Packard Street.

It was the night University of Michigan lost to Michigan State University in the annual rivalry game; the man said, “Go State” — to which Soloman replied, “Go Blue.”

After a short exchange of profanities, the men went their separate ways — or so Soloman thought.

"I heard something behind me, as I looked back he punched me (in the face)," Soloman said in an interview with in 2010.

The man then attacked Soloman, punching him and kicking him so severely Soloman had a broken septum, chipped and broken teeth, a concussion and injuries that resulted in more than 100 stitches to his mouth, lips and chin. He ended up driving himself to the hospital that night, covered in blood.

The case of Soloman’s attacker has not been solved.

Health insurance covered the reconstructive surgery to his nose, but when it came to the missing three front teeth that gave Soloman the smile of an eight-year-old, his plan was not going to foot the lengthy bill.

Outfitted with a “flipper” — a retainer-like piece of plastic that includes front teeth — Soloman tried to return to a normal life. Eating with the flipper was impossible, Soloman said.

At the time of the assault, Soloman was a 22-year-old senior accounting major at Eastern Michigan University. His first job out of college was at a bank, where he was face-to-face with strangers every day.

Soloman said he often wouldn’t smile or open his mouth very wide so people wouldn’t notice his front teeth. The cost of a permanent solution stretched towards $10,000 and out of Soloman's price range.

One of the bank’s patrons was more observant than others: Dr. Chady Elhage, a University of Michigan Dental School student. Elhage said he recognized the flipper in Soloman's mouth right away, and got Soloman’s number.

“He’s a young guy, going out, working — he shouldn’t have to deal with that,” Elhage said.

Elhage, 27, now in his second year of the three-year prosthodontics program at U-M and with a general dentistry practice of his own at 19928 Farmington Road in Livonia, did not forget Soloman.

Elhage took Soloman’s case to his supervisor, Dr. Mike Razzoog.

“Dr. Elhage met this young man and asked if there was something we can do,” Razzoog said, noting it has been rare for the clinic to do work free of charge.

After reaching out to the company that makes top-of-the-line implants, Nobel BioCare, the U-M Graduate Prosthodontics Clinic was able to get Soloman implants at a severely reduced cost.

Elhage called Soloman up and asked him if he wanted some teeth. It didn’t take long for Soloman to make an appointment. Since June, Soloman has had a temporary bridge of front teeth cemented to his jaw while specialty implants could be made.

He’s started a new job as a salesman at the Ford dealership in Brighton, where his face and his smile are more imperative than ever. Even with the temporary bridge, Soloman said he was still slightly embarrassed to give his clients a full smile.

The implant is designed to be permanent, and looks more than realistic.

A bar screwed to Soloman’s jaw fills in a space where there once was a gap from the loss of his jawbone in the assault. Elhage cemented porcelain teeth caps to posts on the bar.

After two hours of carefully fitting the implant and each of the caps, Elhage assured Soloman that his state-of-the-art teeth were ready to go.

Soloman smiled into the mirror — and then for about five more minutes as Elhage photographed his new teeth extensively to document his work.

“Don’t go chomping down on gobstoppers or hard, rock candy,” Elhage said. “Go home and enjoy those with your family.”

The implant will last a long time — Soloman will have to carefully clean the space between his gum and the implant, but he can floss the new teeth just as he does with his regular ones and even eat corn on the cob.

Elhage said he was happy to see Soloman with a complete smile that he could use just as a normal young man.

After several hours of dental work, an empty stomach and dry mouth, Soloman wasn’t headed home: His colleagues had demanded he come back to the dealership to show off his grin.

For the first time in two years, Soloman wasn’t embarrassed to oblige.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

What I find appalling about this story is the lack of help from the insurance company. A half-ass fix is sufficient in the eyes of the insurance management. I've had my issue too with health insurance companies. Healthcare reform to ensure all are covered equally would prevent this type of occurance. For those who disagree calling it socialistic, I suggest you look at the national highway system, one of the most expensive socialistic programs where many pay in more than the benefits they receive.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

What a great story. Dr. Elhage has impacted the rest of this young man's life.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 1:39 a.m.

You that good can you help me?

Haggis Chihuahua

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

It's just a darn shame the headline writers had the dentists assaulting the patient before they fixed his teeth.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

Darnit, came here to see what the gun nuts would have to say. Leaving disappointed.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

Close enough.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Should'a shot 'em! Ra ra ra! Obama hates freedom! Socialism, boo! Vote Romney!


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

Glad to see the victim of the coward's assault recover. And hopefully, this will not be yet another heinous crime that the AAPD cannot seem to solve (like those several cases involving the serial sex offender in summer 2011). If someone actually witnessed Mr. Solomon's assault (another post mentioned a female witness), that witness should come forward and do the right thing.

Jason Handsome 04

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Great story Amy - Thank-you.

Urban Sombrero

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

Dr. Elhage did a lovely job. As someone who's seen a lot of not-so-esthetically pleasing dental implants doing my job over the years (dental hygienist), I can honestly say that those are gorgeous and look very natural. He should do well in private practice with that level of talent.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

It's unfortunate that animals like that punk that attacked him are wandering around Ann Arbor on any given night. Obviously the girl who was with the attacker knows who he is and has failed to turn him into police. What's her up side honey - do you see a long term future with this loser? Are you going to marry a violent psychopath and become his life-long punching bag?


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

This is great for Solomam. I bet the best Christmas present for him would be for the cops to find the a#%hole that attacked him. Someone out there knows who it is. Come forward and make his Christmas bright


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

This is a great story. Thanks to the doctor that noticed the young man and made the effort to see what could be done for him.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Congratulations to Jean-Claude Soloman and his new teeth and successful reconstructive surgery. However, I am surprised that no one seems to care that this horrific and violent attack occurred in the Burns Park neighborhood or that the attacker was never brought to justice. Again, where is the police presence and why are thugs allowed to roam our neighborhoods? Again, congratulations to Jean-Claude Soloman; through the kindness of strangers he has another shot at a good life.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

Good job by the dentist, but can people just stop with the sports worship already. I lcheer for my favorite teams, but enough to commit assault and battery? To get into even a verbal altercation over who they cheer for? Really? At PSU they riot when a coach is fired, at MSU they burn coaches in the street when the team wins or loses, and here two guys get into an "exchange of profanities" over a team that neither of them play for.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Candy, My bad, I was thinking couches, but I think burning coaches is reserved for OSU fans.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

If I could vote TWICE for your post, I would. Sports release violent impulses. When channeled into good old rivalry and fun, that's very socially and personally useful; but all too often, mixed with alcohol and other "drugs" the result is appalling.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

I hope you mean they burn "couches." But maybe some coaches deserve it too!


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

What a great start to my Sunday reading! Dr. Elhage's work will be shown over and over again every time that young man smiles! This story put a smile on my face.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

His luck, she is running good, and it's actually always better to be lucky than good.

Chase Ingersoll

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

This story had a lot in it: crime, tragedy, sports, technology, health care, and a happy ending.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

My wife and daughter and I know this fine young man and we are all very happy for him.

Jared Mauch

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

A reminder there are good wholesome people out there that care for others. Great to hear about everyone that helped this man!