Spencer Solves It: Army veteran to get new teeth, lease on life

It’s the first thing in the morning and 56-year-old Leah Townsend is about to eat her breakfast -- a bowlful of soggy mush, pulverized by a blender.

Leah is eating a bowl of crushed celery for lunch and hates it.

“It’s awful. I can’t eat almost anything. The food I do get to eat, I have to chew it for such a long time or I will choke on it,” Townsend said.

You see, for four long years now, Townsend has been living without any teeth whatsoever. Unable to chew, she is forced to gum her food down without the benefit of dentures or dental implants.

“I’ve got sores on my gums all over the place from something I chewed wrong or something. It feels like I’m chewing on rocks, it is so painful sometimes," she said.

But it wasn’t always like this.

Townsend is a powerful woman. She is a U.S. Army veteran who served as a helicopter mechanic. She is also a mother and grandmother and a nurse who has cared for hundreds of children.

But today she is embarrassed to even open her mouth.

“I want to be able to eat normally, to smile at my grandkids, to enjoy a meal,” she said.

Leah’s nightmare began in 2014 when she went to a dentist’s office after breaking a tooth. She says the dentist told her she would need to have a couple of other teeth pulled, some fillings put in and a bridge inserted to replace missing teeth.

But that’s not what happened.

“The plan was I was going to have a partial and then have some cavities filled and my teeth whitened, and they ended up pulling all my teeth," Townsend said.

Afterward, Townsend said the dentist told her she would have a beautiful smile with the aid of top and bottom dentures.

But after many failed adjustments on those dentures, she said she was told they were not working because of severe bone loss in her jaw and the fact that her mouth did not have a bottom ridge large enough to hold the dentures.

She was told she would need dental implants, which she could not possibly afford.

So after four years without a tooth in her head, she contacted Spencer Solves It and asked for help.

Right away we went to work trying to find the doctors needed to fix her problem.

Luckily KPRC found Dr. David Alfi, a renowned oral surgeon from Houston Methodist Hospital and Dr. Sergio Ortegon, a prosthodontist and expert in reconstructive dentistry.

After examining her, both determined that indeed Townsend does not have enough bone to work with for traditional dentures. Now, the two doctors have decided to fit her with specially designed dentures on both the top and bottom of the mouth and secure the lower denture with two dental implant posts that the denture can be attached to.

The dental work will involve surgery and will take months to complete, but in the end Townsend will have her smile back once again.

“I can’t even find the words to tell you how much I appreciate this. I thought I was going to have to go through the rest of my life without any teeth. This means the world to me,”  she said.

We at Spencer Solves it want to thank both Dr. Alfi and Dr. Ortegon for their hard work on this case. The dental work would normally cost Townsend at least $15,000, but both doctors are doing this absolutely free.

If you need help with a problem you can’t possibly solve by yourself, contact Spencer Solves It at 713-223-TIPS (8477) or email us at solvesit@click2houston.com.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.