Smiling again: Dentist fixes domestic abuse survivor's broken tooth, for free
Published Thursday, October 19, 2017 11:52AM EDT
When Kyleigha Scott used to brush her teeth she would avoid looking at her smile in the mirror. She also changed the way she spoke so that her upper lip would cover her top teeth. When she posed for photos with her two-year-old daughter, gave a “closed-mouth grin.”
“I don’t look as happy as I felt in those pictures because I couldn’t express myself through a smile,” Scott said.
The 28-year-old server and cashier from Marshall, Tex. was hiding her smile because it served as a reminder of the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend more than two years ago.
On New Year’s Eve in 2014, Scott’s boyfriend at the time came home and head-butted her in the face as she lay in bed with her two-month-old niece.
“To this day, I still don’t know why he did what he did,” she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Thursday from Marshall, Tex.
Scott’s front tooth broke with nearly half of the bottom section completely sheared off during the assault. Eventually, she left the abusive relationship. Scott said he repeatedly tried to contact her but eventually she stopped hearing from him. She later found out that he had been killed.
Although she was no longer afraid of him finding her, Scott said her broken tooth prevented her from moving on from that painful time in her life.
Unable to afford the dental work to fix her tooth, Scott lived with the memory of that night for more than two years.
That is, until an infection in one of her wisdom teeth last week forced her to seek emergency help from Dr. Kenny Wilstead, the owner of Marshall Family Dental in Marshall, Tex.
Learning to smile again
Scott went in to Dr. Wilstead’s office a week ago to have her aching tooth removed. She had saved just enough money for the extraction after picking up a second job.
After he removed her wisdom tooth, Dr. Wilstead told CTVNews.ca that he asked Scott about what happened to her front tooth. She recounted her story and told him that she was planning on having it fixed as soon as she received her income tax returns, he said.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to wait for your tax returns. That’s next year. Let’s fix this right now,’” Dr. Wilstead recalled in a telephone interview from Marshall, Tex.
He told her he would fix it free of charge, and in only 10 minutes, Scott’s damaged tooth was repaired with a crown.
“That 10 minutes that he took to give me what I thought I lost a long time ago back is the most indescribable, beautiful, joyful emotion,” Scott said. “I wish that I could come up with a new word for how I felt.”
Scott didn’t need to come up with a word for her reaction because Wilstead captured the moment in a heartwarming video he later shared online. In the short clip, that’s been “liked” nearly 4,000 times on Facebook, a tearful Scott can be seen gazing at her reflection.
“She just kind of fell apart. It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen anybody in a long time,” Dr. Wilstead said. “She was laughing and crying at the exact same time.”
For Scott, it was like seeing her old self again.
“I was just like immediately, ‘Oh my God, you’re back. Like hi, how have you been? I’ve missed you,’” she said. “I actually saw me again and not someone broken.”
In the week since Dr. Wilstead fixed her tooth, Scott said she has taught herself how to smile again, a nice “toothy gum smile,” and is looking forward to moving on with her life.
“I had to learn how to smile again but now I just can’t stop,” she said.
And Scott will be smiling with more than just one repaired tooth. Dr. Wilstead generously offered to provide her with a $20,000 smile reconstruction in the coming weeks for free, she said.
“When I see a patient come to the office and tell me they’re going to use all their tax returns or they’re going to go out and get a second job, I really appreciate that and I respect that a lot,” Dr. Wilstead explained. “If they’re willing to do everything on their end then I’m willing to do everything on my mine.”