Watch Fresno woman get new teeth through ‘Second Chance’ program
Erlinda Vargas beamed in a Fresno dental office Monday following a procedure giving the 34-year-old mother new permanent teeth.
“You can comfortably chew on a steak – a well-done steak!” Dr. Sam Namdarian said excitedly.
Vargas is looking forward to it. She’s spent a long time living off softer foods, such as eggs, cheese and peanut butter, because chewing was painful.
A couple years ago, she had only 15 of her 28 teeth, and seven of the ones she had were severely decayed, Namdarian said.
Vargas was selected to receive a free implant-supported denture – essentially, new permanent teeth screwed into her upper jaw – through a Second Chance program by Fresno Oral Maxillofacial Surgery & Dental Implant Center. The center did two oral surgeries for Vargas and partnered with Namdarian of Fresno Smile Makeovers, along with a couple implant and prosthesis companies, to bring Vargas her new smile.
“Even before they were even done, through the process I started to feel better about myself,” Vargas said.
Vargas grew up with little, and without seeing a dentist regularly. She said she also grew up in a household with domestic abuse.
Of her new smile, Vargas said, “It’s like I was dead and then I woke up.”
Before receiving her new teeth, she said she was depressed and in a “dark place.” She used to avoid going to public places because “every time you talk, you show your teeth.”
Vargas was selected in 2017 for the Second Chance program from a pool of 400 applicants. She is the first to receive free services via the program, which aims to help community members with oral health issues.
Fresno Oral Maxillofacial Surgery & Dental Implant Center plans to search for other deserving candidates at a later time. The next Second Chance program application period will be announced on the center’s Facebook page.
The free dental work Vargas received would have cost more than $30,000.
Vargas has three children – ages 2, 4 and 9 – and works in the day care at Saint Agnes Medical Center.
“I’m just so happy,” Vargas said of her new smile. “I feel like a different person.”
Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge