Morgan’s teeth began to deteriorate when she was in her 20s, most dramatically after the births of her two daughters.

It wasn’t as though she’d neglected her teeth. Throughout her childhood, while growing up in Chicago, she brushed twice a day, used mouthwash daily and saw a dentist regularly. As her financial situation deteriorated, she began to see dental care as a luxury. By her early 30s her teeth had gotten worse.

“People were shocked when they saw my teeth because they’d never seen anything like it,” Ernest said. “I was always being asked if I was on drugs. I wasn’t insulted because I already knew what they were thinking, but it’s not exactly a conversation starter. The worst thing was when kids asked me why my teeth were so rotten.”

Having ravaged teeth was more than a cosmetic problem and a hindrance to employment. It was also hurting her health. She couldn’t eat anything hard and was continuing to lose weight.

“I had abscesses that caused excruciating pain. My face would swell so it looked like someone hit me,” she said. The swelling was at times so extreme that she wondered if she’d been bitten by a venomous insect.

Things got better for Morgan when she found out about Madison Dental Initiative. The volunteer dentists were able to extract all of her rotted teeth and provide her with an upper and lower denture. Not only did it help return Morgan’s confidence, but soon after, she was hired at a local clothing factory.

Read more about Morgan’s story in Women’s News here