HOUSTON -- James Shaw, 59, reached out to us in a letter. Six years ago his teeth began falling out. He's down to the last nine.
"I cannot eat a steak. I can eat toast, something that's soft and digestible," Shaw said.
He lives alone in a tidy southwest Houston apartment. He admits he's not a perfect man, but he said he tries to be a good man. And he still dreams of simple things, like not having to hide his mouth.
"(I feel) a little depressed because of my smile," Shaw said.
So KHOU made a call to leading implant specialist, Dr. Wayne Brueggen. The highly regarded dentist and his staff got busy right away taking X-rays of Shaw, doing exams and making impressions of Shaw’s mouth.
Dr. Brueggen determined Shaw is a good candidate and he decided to give him a full set of teeth. The implant procedure would normally cost $52,000 but because of Dr. Brueggen's incredible gesture of generosity, Shaw's cost will be zero.
"James is a special circumstance. You explained to me when you called me what was going on for James and you can't help but want to help him," said Dr. Brueggen, DDS, FAGD and FICIO.
Clearly, Dr. Brueggen cannot provide free dental implants for everyone. But in the true spirit of Paying it Forward, he said he is glad to help Shaw.
"If everything goes as the way I expect it will all happen for you in one day," Brueggen told Shaw.
Dr. Brueggen is a leading authority in North America on an implant procedure called All On Four. He brought it to Houston 10 years ago after learning the procedure in Portugal where a dentist there developed it.
"We call it (All on Four) because we actually built a full set of upper teeth for James on only four implants," Dr. Brueggen said.
The same thing happens on the lowers. A total of eight implants screwed into the bones serve as anchors for full rows of manufactured teeth. The procedure takes only one day and is a lot less invasive, less complicated and more successful than traditional implants which can require as many as 20 implants placed into the bone.
After nine hours, Shaw had a full mouth of new teeth. The difference was stark.
"I'm very happy," Shaw said. "A very natural smile."
If you would like to do something to Pay It Forward to someone in need or if you have a need with which you could use some help, please click here for more information.