New Brunswick

Moncton man wants help from government to replace his teeth

A Moncton man says he needs help getting back on his feet, but he doesn't know where to get it.

Mike Sawler hasn't been able to work since he had 21 teeth removed and he can't afford dentures

Moncton man says he needs help getting back on his feet, but he doesn't know where to get it.

Mike Sawler had 21 teeth removed because of chronic pain and decay.

Mike Sawler has difficulty talking since having all his teeth removed and says his inability to obtain dentures is preventing him from finding a job. (Tori Weldon / CBC)
The dental work was mostly covered through his health insurance at work. But after the surgery, he couldn't continue working at a call centre because he had difficulty talking.

"The confidence level, yes does go down," he said. "Even if you're confident enough to go say meet people or go to a job interview, you know then … it's hard."

Sawler, 34, who worked steadily for seven years before his dental surgery, hasn't worked since being let go from the call centre about one year ago.

"I had an interview with Target, it seemed like it was going good," said Sawler. "I wasn't hired and the reason I think is because I didn't have my teeth.

"I think I was looked at differently, you know because people commonly look at a person without teeth that it's someone who hasn't taken care of themselves or someone who has done drugs."

Sawler says he can't afford to pay for dentures with his employment insurance cheques, which will soon run out.

The provincial government does have programs that supply people with dental care, but Sawler doesn't qualify.

Dentist Susan Drapeau McNally founded a group that gives free dental care to the working poor.

"Teeth have more than the function of eating," said Drapeau McNally. "There's society, find a look, find a job …"

Mike Sawler says for less than $1,000 he can get a set of dentures and get back on his feet.

He feels he's getting the cold shoulder from a provincial government that lacks compassion.

Sawler says if the province would invest $800 or $900 to provide dentures for him, he thinks they'll save money down the road as he'll be able to go back to work.

Sawler says if he doesn't get help, he's worried his next step is living on the streets.