Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Help Me Howard: Bad Dentures
It's something most of us probably take for granted every day, chewing our food. One woman says a dentist's bad denture work left her hungry and helpless. Losing weight, she could no longer wait, so she called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Josephine Taylor: "I like the color red. It reminds me of the blood of God. That's why I do red."
Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve. Josephine Taylor lines her walls with her faith.
Josephine Taylor: "I believe in God very strongly, OK, and, as you can see, I like holy things, good things. I like angels."
And over the past few years her faith has been tested as Josephine battles colitis and Crohn's Disease.
Josephine Taylor: "I have colitis attacks every other day. I had to get my mouth fixed because the food I'm supposed to be eating for my illness I couldn't chew."
Josephine's teeth were falling out faster than leaves drop in the fall.
Josephine Taylor: "Well, I only had 12 teeth left, and they were all bad."
She feared she needed dentures but put it off because she didn't have the $6,000 to pay for them. Then, as more teeth fell out, she bit the bullet, went for a consultation and got the bad news.
Josephine Taylor: "He says I have that disease. It's hard for me to say it."
It is Periodontal Disease, tough to pronounce under the best of circumstances.
Josephine Taylor: "He said to me, the only way to get rid of the disease is to pull all the teeth out."
So Josephine dipped into her savings, paid the dentist to remove her old teeth and replace them with new dentures. Then her teeth trouble really got worse.
Josephine Taylor: "They don't fit, they come out. See, from day one the teeth never fit. He says, 'You've got to get used to them.' I say, 'How can you get used to something that doesn't even fit in my mouth?'"
Josephine is not exaggerating, the teeth don't even come close to fitting.
Josephine Taylor: "Yes, there is. My tongue is holding my teeth up. Don't you hear my tongue? My tongue keeps hitting the top, so they don't fall out. I can't go to work with no teeth in my mouth."
With no teeth she can't eat solid food.
Josephine Taylor: "Cottage cheese, juices. I kept telling him I'm losing weight. I'm not eating any solid food."
With her dentures clanking around, she has lost weight and her self-esteem. As her friends notice, she does not look healthy.
Josephine Taylor: "She goes, 'Josephine you don't look so good. I turned around and said, 'I can't talk, I can't talk. I don't feel good."
The dentist told her he needed to adjust the teeth. Josephine went in time and time again, but they still did not fit. She's fed up and wants her money back.
Josephine Taylor: "If he was any decent dentist he would say, 'Here, Josephine take the money. I can't do the job. I don't want to see you getting any sicker than what you are. Go where somebody can help you."
So she called us for the answer. How can you prove your dentures were done poorly, and can she get her money back?
Howard Finkelstein: "Dentures do require adjustments to get them working, but. in this case, it's obvious the dentist can't get it right. Josephine needs to go to a dentist who specializes in dentures, and whatever it cost her out of her pocket is the responsibility of her original dentist."
By the time we asked Charles Mandell, a dentist and the chairman of Implant Division of Jackson Memorial Hospital, to examine Josephine she was a nervous wreck.
Dr. Charles Mandell: "At any time did he refer you to a specialist, and did he ask you to see a periodontist?"
Josephine Taylor: "No."
Doctor Mandell concluded the dentures were not made properly, and no matter how they were adjusted it would not fit properly. Then we called Josephine's dentist, who told us Josephine was a nightmare patient, and she traumatized him so much he stopped doing full dentures altogether.
Finally, he said he would refund $3,000 for the dentures if Josephine returned the dentures he had made back to her. She agreed to do that.
Josephine Taylor: "I just wish it was over."
Josephine now has a new dentist who has agreed to do the work. Hopefully, she will be able to sink her teeth into a meal soon after her first dentist left a bad taste in her mouth.
Josephine Taylor: "I made a big mistake. I should have never given my money up front. I didn't know. I put my trust into this man."
Patrick Fraser: "Josephine's original dentist was not a specialist in gum disease. If you can't get to a specialist, at least get a second opinion, and you may want to rush because of the pain you are in. But, remember, you only have one mouth, and the decision you make will be with you for a lifetime so be careful."
Someone really taken a bite out of you? Don't mouth off to them. Just let us chew on it. We can't fix a denture, but we will try to implant a smile on your face.
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