A mum-of-one has shared her story on what it’s like to have artificial teeth at just 30 years old – using her TikTok platform to normalise dentures in young adults. Jess Sutcliffe, 30, works as a senior medical secretary in Harlow, Essex, and is a mother to her son, five-year-old Aidan.
From her early teens, the mum’s two front teeth began to wear away due to drinking too many fizzy drinks, however, in May 2016, due to a freak accident, the situation escalated dramatically. “I had a ladder fall and the step of the ladder hit me in the mouth and fractured my top two front teeth,” Jess told Jam Press.
“The hospital had to push my teeth back in without anaesthetic and I was told I had to stop my contraceptive pill for some antibiotics to work. I visited my own dentist the following day and was given a treatment plan of scans and root canals to see if my teeth could be saved.”
Just two months later, Jess fell pregnant, which meant she had to temporarily stop the treatment for her teeth. Unfortunately, towards the end of 2017, once she went back to the dentist to fix them she was told they could no longer hold a bridge.
The mum was informed her teeth would need to be removed and replaced with dentures. To make matters worse, the procedure was not covered by the NHS.
She said: “I was distraught, I always thought dentures were for the older generation. I was fearful, anxious and just in shock that I was losing my teeth at such a young age.”
Paying for the procedure out of her own pocket, Jess had countless appointments to mould a denture and then booked in to get her teeth pulled out. Jess added: “The day of my procedure I had so much anxiety over what I would look like and how I would manage the denture.
“But when I woke from the anaesthetic and was shown my new teeth in a mirror, I was surprised and they were so much better than I had imagined. [Once I was back home], the issues then started, I had not been told how to remove it [the denture] without damaging it.
“I looked in the mirror and just burst into tears again at the horror of seeing I had no teeth and a hole where my teeth should be. I didn’t want my partner or anyone to see me without [the denture], I felt humiliated and distraught.
“I saw my own dentist a few days later and [had] another denture made as the one I was given initially was moulded when my own teeth were still in place so the denture did not fit as it should’ve done.” Jess had around six appointments in the space of six weeks to ensure the new mould was correct and was given her new denture, which she secures with the product’s glue every day.
She added: “I find my dentures easy to manage now that I’m years down the line but in the beginning the mental side of wearing them was so hard to get through. And I did not know anyone my age that could understand or sympathise, I felt very alone.”
Although her experience left emotional scars, it has also encouraged the mum to share her story. She talks about life with dentures on TikTok (@xjess91x) and hopes it will help other young people struggling with confidence issues due to their teeth or dentures. She said: “I have had my TikTok since the beginning of the first lockdown but had never used it, I had always been afraid of being judged and I’ve always struggled with how I look, let alone having missing teeth.
“But this year I have started to try to love myself due to the positive people I had followed. I then felt like the best thing I could do with my accident surrounding my teeth was to make awareness and normalise that losing teeth can happen to anyone for many different reasons. My confidence is still developing and I don’t think I will ever be over it but if I can be there for someone going through the same my aim is accomplished.”