It’s Never Too Late for a New Smile.
All my life, I’ve been told that I look the part of a princess. True to form, I’ve been a model and actress pretty much my entire life. My background is in musical theater and I love to perform. I lived in New York City, NY, and performed on stage there for several years. My love and passion is singing and performing in the theater. In addition, I run a princess party business. On stage and in photos, my life looked picture perfect. But behind the fairytale façade, I had a secret that was ruining my health and running my life.
Almost everybody has some issues, and my story is no different. For about fifteen to eighteen years, I had bulimia—an eating disorder characterized by binge-eating and self-induced vomiting (purging). It started when I was just a teenager. Growing up in upstate New York, I often felt like an outsider and I just wanted to fit in. I thought maybe being thin would be the way to do it. I secretly started binging and purging as a way to accomplish that. After a while, the bulimia was how I dealt with anxiety. When I would get anxious or nervous, I binged and purged to try to feel in control of my life.
The irony is that although my bulimia began because I was worried about my looks and staying thin, it ultimately had a very negative effect on my looks and my health—particularly my teeth. It caused a lot of damage to my mouth over the years. Stomach acid destroyed the enamel of my teeth and caused my teeth to erode and even fall out. I lost one of my front teeth and a friend helped me get an implant to replace it. My mouth was a mess and I was constantly in pain.
In addition to bulimia, I also had a drug addiction for a while. You would never know it from looking at my pictures, but that was a part of my life. I couldn’t hide the effect the drugs had on my mouth—that kind of damage is something that a lot of people don’t think about. I tried to avoid smiling in photos or in my day-to-day interactions. The drug use made everything in my mouth start to hurt and break and it ruined my gums. My drug addiction lasted long enough to do permanent damage, even after I kicked the habit.
The Cost of Neglect
It may seem contradictory, but although I was a working model and actress for most of my life, dental health was not a priority—mostly because I was hiding my bulimia, but also because of the expense. I was unable to afford dental care, so I neglected going to the dentist for a long time. I also strayed from cleanings and from brushing and flossing on my own, so my gums became extremely sensitive and bled for years.
I was in a lot of pain from my damaged teeth and gums. I would feel fine for a couple of days, then seemingly out of nowhere, I’d have shooting pains from my gums and shooting pains from inside my back teeth. Then my teeth started to break. My front implant fell out about four years ago, and I had to use denture adhesive cream daily to hold it in place because there wasn’t a post anymore.
The complications from my dental health started to impact every aspect of my life. Working in an industry based on looks, I felt very self-conscious. In the modeling industry, it’s not about what’s on the inside, but it’s what’s on the outside that counts! And my outside (specifically, my teeth) was falling apart!
My smile held me back. I would do concept model shoots and pictures for covers of romance novels, but I could never show my teeth. It became difficult for me to find work. Models can’t get commercial work if they don’t have a smile. Eventually, I stopped going to auditions because of it.
In addition to the practical effects, I felt emotionally inhibited. If I was excited or happy, I held back my feelings. I thought, ‘What if I open my mouth to talk and a tooth falls out?’ That actually happened several times and it was very embarrassing.
During this same time period, I was running my princess party business. But I did not feel like a princess. I was just playing a role. It didn’t feel believable to me—largely because of my teeth.
My teeth affected my personal life, too. I was anxious on dates because I worried about my loose front tooth. I was never completely confident with that tooth. I dealt with this issue for years. Overall, I felt unable to move forward in many aspects of my life.
My health was poor in general. My decaying teeth caused problems to my immune system and energy level. What many people don’t realize is that when you have issues with your mouth, it affects the health of your entire body. The bacteria can go from the saliva and the mouth into the gums and the broken teeth. Then it can go into the bloodstream, and from there it can hit the heart. When I finally visited a dentist, he said that I was getting to the point where I would likely have some type of heart problem because of the bacteria in my teeth. The neglect of my teeth was so serious, it was actually life threatening.
Time for a Change
A combination of the pain and missing teeth finally drove me to look for a change. By May of 2015, I was in such dire pain that I said a prayer to my Higher Power. I didn’t know what else to do, so I went online and searched for free dental contests. Through the search, I found Dr. Joseph Willardsen with True Dentistry in Las Vegas, NV. True Dentistry was looking for a story to feature on an upcoming episode of the television show, The Doctors. Dr. Willardsen was offering a complete smile makeover—worth $30,000. I couldn’t believe it! It was just what I was looking for. I quickly sent Dr. Willardsen my story. Within one hour, he called me back. That’s how it all started.
Dr. Willardsen and his team commenced work on my smile during the summer of 2015. The goal was to be ready for a taping of The Doctors in September. When I met the True Dentistry team, everyone was so warm and welcoming—they became like family to me!
At my first appointment, I was shaking and extremely nervous. But the True Dentistry dental team showed me what was about to happen and how great things could be for my smile. It seemed so over-the-top! It really didn’t seem believable that my smile could change so completely in just a few short months! I was nervous, but I was getting the biggest gift of my life—a beautiful new smile.
It was not an easy process. As I mentioned, my mouth was in terrible condition. When they started working, the team had to break up my initial cleaning appointment into four different appointments because I was in so much pain and there was so much bleeding. Also, I had to have several teeth taken out, my gums needed to be grafted, and my bite needed to be completely re-aligned. The True Dentistry team did about nine months of work in only four weeks, with an additional month for prep (for more details on Samantha’s case, see the story, “Made for TV” by Dr. Joseph Willardsen).
Cleaning up after years of neglect was an extremely painful experience. It was difficult, but I told myself, “This too shall pass.” In a way, it was as if the emotional pain of my past came out through physical pain in my mouth, and now it’s left my body for good.
The Princess Within
In the short time since receiving my new smile, I have felt like a different person. Once the new teeth were placed, a whole new confidence came into my life. Immediately afterwards, I ran around everywhere smiling really big and telling everyone, “Look at my teeth! Look at my teeth!”
I never really knew how to smile before, and I’m still getting used to smiling fully and properly. But many good things have started to come of it. I’ve started getting offers for modeling work and I’m feeling better about myself.
Now that I have a new smile, I have my confidence again. I truly feel like the princess that I used to pretend to be. And I plan to put that confidence to good use with the young girls I work with. My business, Princess Lorelei Productions, teaches little girls that we’re all princesses. My approach is, “It’s not the gown or the crown, but a real princess is within.”
Today, people see a new glow about me. I still have my ups and downs, because I’m human. But I’m not afraid to look at myself in the mirror and see the woman I am today.
A Whole New World
I am very grateful to the entire True Dentistry team and the staff at The Doctors. Everyone was absolutely incredible and I can’t thank them enough. This year is a new beginning in many ways. My health has improved and I plan to take care of myself and get my body back in top shape. I’ve even started dating again!
Today, I have no pain. No pain at all. And I have no bleeding, either. Of course, I still have a little sensitivity, but that has lessened with time. My last cleaning was easy and pain free!
The Royal Treatment
For anyone with dental problems big or small, I have two messages: number one—it’s never too late to do something about it; and number two—take care of the problem now! A lot of people are afraid of dental work, whether it’s because of money or other factors. But the longer you wait, the more damage you will have.
I am living proof that it is never too late to fix your smile. There are ways to fit treatment into your budget. The important thing is to get your teeth taken care of! If you have waited a little too long to go to the dentist and are afraid, be assured that it is worth it. My new smile will last me the rest of my life. Whether your problems are minor or major, there’s no time like the present to get started on a smile worthy of any princess (or prince)!