Guy Morse was almost that person. You know, the one you see on America’s Funniest Videos, who goes to blow out birthday candles and their dentures come flying out.
Except it wasn’t his own birthday cake, but rather he was helping his young son blow out his birthday candles. Guy felt his upper dentures start to come out as he started blowing. Embarrassed, he quickly adjusted them while avoiding eye contact with the family and friends around the table.
“Oh, they definitely noticed,” recalled Guy, who has had full upper dentures for more than 20 years, but over time they became loose due to natural changes in the jaw bone. “And, I’ve had lower dental issues for a long time, including pain and tooth loss and never did anything about it.”
In addition to always hiding his teeth, he would come up with ways to compensate, like lying about salad his whole life. “I always told people I didn’t like salads because I didn’t have the teeth to tear the lettuce,” he said. “I also love steak, but rarely ate it, so I just resorted to eating softer foods.”
At one point, Guy considered getting partial dentures and partial implants, but the cost was too expensive. “I don’t have that kind of money, so I let it go.”
His oral health continued to decline and when acquaintances or clients joked, it stung.
“People would laugh and call me the toothless wonder, or say I have summer teeth—some are teeth and some ain’t,” he said.
But the moment the 56-year-old addictions counselor felt his tooth come out when he bit into a cheeseburger, he knew something had to change.
“I tell my clients all the time that they have to take care of themselves and make changes, but I wasn’t doing that for myself,” he admitted.
So when he spotted a notice for a Smile Makeover seminar at Eastman Dental in his Facebook feed, he signed up. After the seminar, Guy had a consultation to discuss his situation with Eastman Institute for Oral Health specialists and learned about choices for treatment. “I said, OK, I’m doing this for me now.”
Guy chose an affordable option to get dentures supported by implants for both his upper and lower jaws. This way, they can never become loose and will stay secure while eating, speaking and yes, even blowing out birthday candles.
The implants were placed in his lower jaw just before Covid hit, so treatment was delayed a little after they healed. After his lower denture was fit, they placed the implants in his upper jaw and then his upper denture. Under Dr. Elli Anna Kotsailidi’s (Prostho ‘20 Perio ‘19) supervision, Periodontics resident Dr. Nasser Assery and Prosthodontics residents Dr. Andrew Bergmann and Dr. Theocharis Nikellis (Prostho ’21) were all integral in Guy’s treatment.
“Many of our patients have lost teeth over the years and felt there weren’t viable options to replace them,” Dr. Kotsailidi said. “At Eastman, we’re thrilled to provide access and to help so many regain their quality of life, chewing ability and a beautiful smile!”
“Every morning I look in the mirror and I am loving my new smile,” said Guy, who recently spent the weekend with close friends in the Catskill Mountains. “I’m eating foods I haven’t enjoyed in years! We cooked steak and had salad and I could actually chew them! They not only tasted delicious, but it felt delicious. I’m ecstatic, and it shows. My friends have commented on how much more I’m smiling now. I’m absolutely loving it.”
“It’s so rewarding to watch our patients regain their confidence, and we’re privileged to be part of that process,” added Dr. Assery.
Guy wanted to share his experience to possibly help anyone else who’s been putting their oral healthcare on the back burner. “I have dedicated my life to use the stuff that has happened to me to maybe help somebody else,” said Guy, who after three back surgeries, became addicted to pain killers at age 25. After rehab, he earned his CASAC – Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor—and now works at the same agency that helped him so many years ago.
“If I can help someone avoid suffering through one less problem, then it’s worth it,” he added. “Because we shouldn’t have to choose what we eat based on the repair of our teeth.”