For years, June Mitts didn’t have much to smile about.
The San Luis Obispo woman had a severe disfiguring mouth condition which made traditional things such as smiling and eating, almost impossible.
“It’s hard to describe when you’re feeling like you’re on the edge of death and there’s nothing you can do about it,” she said.
Mitts needed dental implants. She says a prior dentist put some in years ago, but in the process did even more damage to her mouth.
“I know I had infections going on,” June said. “A few of the bad implants I had pulled out myself, and pus just ran out. It was horrible. It was devastating.”
June had resorted to eating less-healthy soft foods. She gained weight and felt ashamed of how she looked, and her overall health suffered.
“Any of my conversations with you or anybody else was like this,” she said as she held her hand over her mouth. “If I moved my hand, everybody could see what kind of ugliness was going on under there.
“I was depressed, I was embarrassed. Actually, I was dying, truly.”
June’s prior dentist passed away as she looked for someone to help her. She met Dr. Joseph Weber at Santa Barbara Dental Care in 2013. He came up with a surgical plan that would fix her mouth and install proper implants, but her prior dental work also drained her savings.
“She got some hope that she could actually be fixed,” Dr. Weber said. “But financially, after spending the money she did on what she had–$30,000–it was gonna cost three times that amount to fix it.”
While June tried to come up with the money, Dr. Weber received letters from people who knew June, asking him to help her with the financial cost of the procedure. He then showed her case to the dental implant manufacturers.
“My colleagues could not believe that somebody would do that to someone,” Dr. Weber said, referring to the prior dentist’s work. “And that’s when I said, ‘Would you help me?’ And they said, ‘How can I help?’ And I said, ‘donate your services.’ And they said, ‘absolutely.'”
This summer, June had the work done, free of charge. Now, she really does have something to smile about.
“I look like a different person. Night and day,” she said.