A WOMAN’S teeth have turned black and are crumbling after she was too scared to visit the dentist for ten years.
Cara Smith, 43, blames her heavy smoking and “sweet tooth”, which would see her go through around two litres of fizzy drinks per day, for her decaying gnashers.
Deeply afraid of the dentist, she didn’t contact her surgery for a check-up until she started to feel pain, in December 2018.
She was put on an 18-month waiting list, and by March 2020, when the Covid pandemic hit, she was in agony.
Cara claims she is unable to eat solid food or use cutlery, and has been surviving on supplement shakes for more than two years.
Embarrassed by her smile, Cara has become a recluse and even avoided her brother’s wedding.
At her wits end, she’s now fundraising £2,000 to have treatment privately, during which she will be sedated, and is hoping that having her teeth removed and a set of dentures will “give her her life back”.
Cara, who smokes 30 cigarettes a day, said: “I can’t eat, not even anything soft like a yoghurt because I can’t put a spoon or anything in my mouth.
“I’m still living on supplement shakes [since March 2020] and haven’t had a meal since then.
“I wouldn’t go to my stepdad’s over Christmas because you can smell the food and I just want to be able to eat it, but I can’t.
“I would really love to be able to eat a nice juicy steak or just a bag of chips, or something like that, but I can’t.
“I can’t put anything too hot or too cold in my mouth, like a hot drink, because it just hurts.
“I can’t put a toothbrush in there so I can’t brush my teeth or anything. I haven’t brushed my teeth since March 2020.”
Cara, from near Tavistock, Devon, said that her teeth are black, holey and “falling apart here, there and everywhere”.
They’re now decaying and crumbling so much that every now and again she’ll be “picking teeth out” with her tongue.
She says she is prescribed 200 painkillers a month from the doctor.
But she gets “a maximum of a couple hours sleep a night”.
Cara said: “I’m in constant pain. I have ear infections and the pain is horrendous. I can’t sleep, lie on it or do anything. I get pain under my jaw because it just all hurts.
“I can’t do simple things.
“The cold air hits my teeth. I can’t put a scarf around my mouth to try and keep the cold out from my face because I overheat, and because I have a heart problem I overheat very quickly. I’ve tried.”
Sweets and fizzy pop
Cara said that suffering a breakdown as a young adult meant that self-care was the “last thing on her mind”.
She said: “17 years ago I went through a really bad time and self-care was the last thing on my mind at that time.
“It was like I had a breakdown and I went through a lot of trauma and I just didn’t take care of myself and then I started smoking and it got heavier and heavier.
“My sweet tooth would be anything from a biscuit, crisps to cake, basically junk food, and too much sugar in hot drinks and fizzy pop.
“I used to go through two litres of pop a day. Biscuits would vary from six to the whole pack a day. I’d have a pack of two fresh cream cakes from the shop about once a week.
“With being petrified of dentist I barely went and only went for treatment when I was in pain.”
Cara said her fear of the dentist started around 20 years ago, when she was given an injection to numb her mouth.
She said: “I think having that triggered the fear. I have a phobia [of the dentist], big time.
“I shake, I’m in tears. I’ve walked up to a dentist before now and have literally run the opposite direction in fear.
“It’s the noises and sounds and when they’re having a look, I can’t see what they’re doing and it just scares the hell out of me.”
While she has been able to go to the dentist 12 times over the space of 20 years, despite her phobia, Cara said: “The longest period I went in one chunk without visiting the dentist was I’d say about ten years.
“I’ve tried everything to get over my fear of the dentist.”
Cara enjoys being social but her teeth have hindered her from making new friendships, and strangers poke fun at her “manky teeth”.
She said: “I stay indoors because I don’t want to go outside and for people to see my teeth.
“I wouldn’t go to my brother’s wedding because of my teeth.
“I’m absolutely ashamed, it disgusts me. People don’t want to see that.
“Even with parcels, I try to get them [delivery people] to leave them at the door because I don’t want to face them.”
Cara says she was compelled to contact the dentist back in December 2018 when her mental health improved.
However, due to her phobia she asked to be referred to have sedation dentistry and joined the waiting list.
Around six months later she called for an update and was told she’d have to wait 18 months.
She claims that when she’s repeatedly called she’s been told she’s “on the waiting list”, she’ll “just have to wait”, and there’s a backlog due to Covid.
Cara has also called 111 who provided her with a number to call for an emergency dental appointment, but claims they can’t guarantee sedative dentistry, or an appointment in her local area.
Cara said: “I’m hoping to have sedated dentistry so they can just take my teeth out and have I can have dentures.
“It’s available on the NHS but I’ve been waiting since 2018 which is why I’ve set up the GoFundMe so I can go private.
“I’ll be flashing them [new teeth] everywhere and be like ‘look at me’.
“I just want to be able to eat and smile again. And be normal.”
A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement South West said: “Unfortunately we are unable to comment on a specific case.
“We have asked Ms Smith to contact our dental team so we can look into her situation further.”
You can donate to Cara’s GoFundMe here.