by Antoinette
(Hermanus, Cape Town)

Hi, I am Antoinette, a 42 year old woman/mother/lover.

After a fall as a toddler, some of my adult teeth arrived without enough enamel. I had my first crown at the tender age of 10!

As I grew older, my absolute phobia of dentists grew. By the time I was 34 I could not sit in the dentists chair without having been tranquilised and even then I cried, screamed and became totally hysterical.

With the birth of each of my four children, the condition of my teeth became worse and worse, with various extractions and root canals. My teeth were yellow and crooked and Disprins were eaten like smarties to control the constant toothaches.

At the age of 35 I decided to “end” my dental problems by having the last of the teeth extracted and having full dentures fitted. Well – hindsight would have been a wonderful thing! Had I known then what I know today, I would have continued eating Disprins!!!

My lower gum is too low and my bottom denture has nothing to hold onto. For some reason unknown to me, from time to time the top denture drops down while I am speaking, which is beyond embarrassing. Then come the eating fun and games. Sandwiches, well when I take a bite – the teeth come out of my mouth and remain stuck in the sandwich. Anything chewy, is no longer possible to eat. The dentures simply stick together in the food. Any and everything goes in under the bottom denture when I eat, which is both painful and irritating. Embarrassing too, as I constantly have to try and “fish” the bits and pieces out under the denture with my tongue, to avoid other people seeing what has happened. Eating meat or biltong is impossible. Taking a bite of fruit is impossible. The denture moving around on my gum causes broken skin and ulcers.

Then there is the embarrassment of not being able to kiss my partner of nine years properly. The bottom denture floats around in my mouth! I still have some pride left and do not take my dentures out in front of my partner. I sleep with them in as well and will definately not take them out to kiss him properly. It is something he often comments on, he says he misses the kissing, as it was something we both enjoyed.

My top lip has lost it’s shape, looks like it belongs to a granny of eighty. That is also embarrassing because I have a big nose, and at least my lip kind of “balanced out” the big nose. My side profile is ugly. I feel ugly. I run whenever there are photographs being taken because I don’t like to see the me as I am now without my own teeth. It is a constant reminder of how my fear of the dentist led to me having my teeth extracted, and now this is the me that I have to live with until I go to the “long grass”.

I used to laugh often, sing often, loved eating and baking with my kids, play games and swim with my kids. Now the fear of the denture falling out, or dropping on the floor and breaking, has taken all of that away. I have lost a part of me that I can never regain, and I miss it. I miss being confident and loud – the crazy mom. I suffer from major depression too and that all contributes to a low self image.

I do have a medical aid, but they do not cover the cost of dentures, much less any kind of implants. I have had the same dentures for six years now. I just cannot afford to have another set made. Neither do I want to go through the whole procedure of having a new set made, when I know that because of my almost non existant lower gum, I will still have all the same drama as I do now.

I have made sure my children learn from my example and take the best care of their teeth, so that they never have to experience what I have and live with the consequences, as I do.

If there is any way that I could get implants that hold dentures in place, it would mean more than words can say. So please, if there are any competions out there, or someone with a heart as big as China, who could help me get more than my smile back, I am here, I am waiting.

Thanks for reading!!!

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