A Calgary woman who needs $100,000 worth of dental work is turning to crowdfunding so that she can afford the procedures.
Alheli Picazo, 30, has already had five surgeries in the past decade related to a severe form of ulcerative colitis.
But the gastro-intestinal condition also caused her teeth to disintegrate.
"You have chronic … acid reflux and that state of acidity wears down enamel. I had one tooth extraction and because I didn't have the healing ability, infection set into that,” she said.
Now Picazo needs several very expensive procedures to repair the damage.
“I’m left with an oral situation which is deteriorating rapidly, and the immediate need for bone and tissue grafts and invasive surgeries to extract the increasingly-diseased bone which is now filled with infection and is a source of unrelenting pain,” she said in a post on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
Only a small portion of the work will be covered by her insurance provider.
Picazo first developed stomach problems 10 years ago, when she was an elite gymnast.
But because she had a previous history of anorexia, doctors believed her malnutrition was being caused by an eating disorder, she says.
Her severe colitis wasn’t properly diagnosed until she got a new family physician, Dr. J.P. Leung.
"The system perhaps was, I think unintentionally, putting her in that sort of category of a more simple case,” Leung said.
Now Picazo is ready for one last fight — for her teeth to be healthy again.
"No matter what's happening just keep pressing forward, you will get there,” she said.
Picazo has dubbed her GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign Operation Smile.