ABUNDANT, Utah — Tyler Boyle believes he can always do better.
Early each day, the 22-year-old Utah Jazz fanatic hits the sidewalk in his Bountiful neighborhood — sometimes sporting his Donovan Mitchell jersey — for a mile or six of cardio.
“You can get stronger and lose a lot of weight,” Boyle explained.
Friends, family, even strangers have taken notice, but not just because of his commitment to exercise. They admire Boyle in part because he found a way to give back.
His fitness goals helped him raise $10,000 so his family can bring wheelchairs to needy families in Mexico in October.
But the humanitarian trip almost did not take place. A few days prior, Boyle had developed a persistent toothache that kept him awake at night and jeopardized his travel plans.
Even routine dental care can be hard to come by for people deemed medically complex like Boyle, who has cerebral palsy. But he managed to land a last-minute appointment at the Special Dental Program at Intermountain McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden.
It is part of a more recent and specialized approach to dental care for patients suffering from various conditions such as epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, autism or traumatic brain injury. Most care involves expertise in the hospital setting and in the operating room.
Knowing how risky a trip to Mexico would be with an untreated problem, Dr. Marc Collman took the time to see Boyle right away.
It can be difficult for some people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to get the right treatment in a traditional dentist’s office. In a hospital setting, however, a patient is under anesthesia, creating a calm and controlled environment, said Collman, director of the Intermountain program which started in 2019.
“When I came out of surgery, my whole mouth was numb,” Boyle recalled, and the trip went off without a hitch.
The long-term hope is that more dentists and larger providers will expand their services to patients with these unique medical conditions, Collman said.
“I think at some point it’s not going to be an underserved patient population and that’s the goal,” the doctor told KSL.
It’s a goal that Tyler Boyle and his mom say they can achieve.
“It’s going to make Tyler’s life better,” Erin Boyle said.
“And easier,” Tyler Boyle said with a smile.
Intermountain currently offers special dental care only at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden. He has six other general dentists at various locations throughout the state.