BELDING, Mich. — A West Michigan mom says she feels truly happy for the first time in a long time after having her entire row of top teeth removed and replaced with a denture. She decided to document the entire process through videos posted to TikTok, with one of her videos racking up a quarter of a million views.
25-year-old Vicky Nowakowski is all smiles now that she has a brand new row of upper teeth, but it wasn't like that as a teenager and young adult.
When she was in high school, Vickie dealt with a lot of depression, and developed a deep-seated fear of medical professionals after undergoing procedures related to her Autosomal Dominant Polycystic kidney disease.
”I can pretty much confidently say, if I wasn't so afraid, and if I would have went in when there was just cavities, I probably could have saved my teeth,” Vicky told FOX 17 in an interview Tuesday.
But she finally visited a dentist in 2017, who broke the news that she would have to have all of her upper teeth removed and replaced.
The process of actually having her remaining teeth extracted and replaced with a denture was kicked into high gear in 2020 for several reasons.
For one, she and her fiance have been living apart for the last 18 months. Vicky wanted to have a new smile for when he moved to West Michigan to join her and their 2-year-old daughter.
"He told me you know, if I can't love you at your worst, I don't deserve you at your best, which was super duper sweet," Vicky said.
But, she felt she needed to do it to set a good example for their daughter as she grows up.
"We really want to instill in our daughter how important dental hygiene is, and we want to be a good example," she said.
Before she went in for some initial dental appointments, Vicky watched several YouTube videos of people going through similar situations.
"It really helped a lot, and that's kind of one of the main reasons why I decided that I wanted to do it, and why I wanted to share it."
And so she started to film and post updates on her TikTok account about her teeth and the upcoming procedures, answering any questions that people posted in response.
"I just wanted to answer the most important questions as fast as I could. And I wanted to get it out there as fast as I could," she said.
"And the feedback that... I got was, I'd say 98/99% positive, and I'm just truly amazed and very grateful."
Vicky, her fiance Casey, and their 2-year-old daughter are now back living under one roof, happy for their future life together.
“I’ve had a couple people comment that said, thank you for sharing.... our journey, because it is true, a lot of people do go through the same thing,” she told FOX 17.
“I just want to help others. I don't want anybody to go through what I went through at all.”
While Tuesday's interview with FOX 17 was Vicky's first on-camera interview about her newfound TikTok fame, her story was picked up by some national media outlets.
One of those stories blamed the condition of her teeth on a "soda addiction". She says that info was taken out of context from a portion of one of her videos.
"Coca-Cola is not the sole cause of my teeth deterioration. It played a role, It did play a role, but it is not what caused it," she told FOX 17 Tuesday.
Vicky feels very strongly about sharing honest information and experiences, and just wanted to clear up any confusion people may have reading other articles.
"The best way to help people also is to be honest, so I've been trying to do everything I can to not mislead or anything. That's why the Coca-Cola thing really hurt my feelings."
Vicky had her teeth extracted and replaced with an upper denture at My Community Dental Centers. She credits their staff and their gentle, accommodating demeanor to her conquering her fears of the dentist.
“She put herself in a very vulnerable position, and handled it with just such grace... we couldn't have been more proud of her,” said Dr James Strohschein with MCDC.
Strohschein says Vicky's videos will undoubtedly help others dealing with similar fears.
Vicky Nowakowski— TikTok Page