Dawn Drakes had sent out 201 copies of the same letter to dentists across the country, asking someone to help repair her smile.
“I am writing with my heart on my sleeve and full of embarrassment to be turning to this,” the letter read.
“We had to sell our home and move in with my elderly parents. My husband works two jobs and works very hard but we just make ends meet.”
The Clarington resident sent out the letters as she has been losing her teeth due to the medication she takes to treat her autoimmune disease.
She is now left with only her front teeth, as all of her back teeth have fallen out. Most specialists told her a full set of implants would cost her approximately $50,000, and others turned her away, saying her case was far too complex.
“My confidence has been ruined because I don’t smile,” Drakes said, while tearing up. “People always tell me I look angry, and that’s very hurtful.”
She has ruled out adding dentures to her smile.
“I have severe, extreme anxiety,” she said. “I can’t tolerate things moving in my mouth that are asymmetrical. They cause me extreme stress.”
Out of all of the people she sent her letters to, the only team that responded was her dental clinic in Courtice, Ont.
They have spearheaded a plan to give her her smile back, within her means, and have enlisted the help of specialists across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.
“It is always, to me, at least, a collaborative effort,” said Dr. Daniel Bondre from Courtice Dental Centre.
“In a normal situation, Dawn would have her teeth extracted and get dentures, end of story, no real problem,” said Andrew Long, a Niagara-based dental technologist who is creating her teeth implants. “The only real option for her dentally speaking is the is the implant route we have planned for her as her bite is severely over-closed with the loss of her posteriors.”
A Toronto periodontist said he arranged to have software programming donated for Drakes’s treatment.
“Everyone felt very strongly about committing themselves to helping Dawn because of the uniqueness of her case,” said Dr. Yair Lenga, who is handling the placement of Drake’s implants.
Drakes is now in the initial stages of her treatment, and she hopes to have her new smile by next spring.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to smile again,” Drakes said.