Ted Mills believes he has an ugly mouth and it's affecting how he feels about himself. Many of Mills' teeth are missing and the teeth that he has are in bad shape.
That why the Henrico man called 12 On Your Side recently for help getting a set of dentures.
Mills lives a modest lifestyle. Of course he wants his smile back, but he's equally concerned about the impact his damaged teeth may have on his health.
Recently he found the courage to ask for help.
The skilled pianist has written songs and even played in area churches.
Now a days though, Mills doesn't share his musical gift publicly. He mostly plays for himself and avoids smiling.
"I turn to the side or I don't laugh or try not to laugh," he said. "It's hard though when you're ashamed to open your mouth and you got to go out to interact with people."
In a letter Mills wrote to 12 On Your Side, he said says he cannot afford dental insurance.
He receives Medicaid, which only covers teeth extractions. Over the years as his teeth decayed, he had them pulled.
"When I needed to have my teeth filled, the cavities removed and filled, I just didn't have the money to do it so it just lingers until the point where I just have to them pulled because I don't make enough money to have dental care," Mills said.
He's feeling the effects of that desperate decision now. Because of the large gaps and spaces between his teeth, he's not able to eat properly.
"Sometimes it causes me to I bite my tongue," said Mills. "It hurts real bad. I do that like once every two or three days. It's really painful. You know and I thought If I keep on doing it might cause some other physical problems. It doesn't bleed but it hurts real bad."
His molars are missing and that dictates what Mills is able to chew. He says soups and cereal make up his menu. Foods he loves like nuts, fruit, and steak he can't have.
His plea is for an oral surgeon to take on his case repair the rot and get him dentures.
"It would mean everything. Like a miracle you know. Because I've been going on like this for a long time," said Mills. "It would just give me more self-esteem when I walk around you know. Talk to people. It doesn't look good. It looks kind of ugly. It would make me more confident when I talk to people."
Mills gets a meager disability check for about $700 a month. He gets some help through Daily Planet, but he needs services they can't provide.
Call 345-1212 Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and most evenings 5-6:30 p.m. if you want to help Mills.
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