VIDEO: I'm going to have to learn to smile again, I've forgotten how'
Michael Sheridan says that he’s determined to make the most of what he calls “the chance of a lifetime.”
The 32-year-old Ashbourne resident says he has endured for too long the “shame and embarrassment” of living his life blighted by a mouthful of decaying teeth. Now he is going to have an operation that he hopes will transform his life - and for the better.
This week, Michael will have his 27-remaining teeth removed and have a set of false teeth put in which, in turn, will be replaced by more permanent implants later in the year. It’s all part of a plan to ensure he will have a new, shining set of white teeth when he gets married to his long-term partner Linda with the ceremony planned for New Year’s Eve next.
Speaking to the Meath Chronicle in his Ashbourne home earlier this week Michael expressed his anxiety about the operation and how he can hardly believe it’s finally happening. He also recounts how his “addiction” to fizzy drinks, particularly Coke -Cola destroyed his teeth and underminded his ability to enjoy life.
For years, he says, he has forgotten how to smile or laugh properly and regarded cameras with the same suspicion a houseowner might regard an intruder with a gun.
“I had a fear of dentists and I still have a fear of dentists but this is, I know the phrase is used very often, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, this is never never going to happen to me again,” he says.
“If I let my fear of dentists stop me from doing this I’m going to be stuck with the teeth that I have for the rest of my life. I can never see myself in a situation where I can afford what David is giving me now.
“Given the opportunity I’ve been given please God all will go well, I just want to go back to being me, instead of being that person hiding away from everything, so that I can sit in front of people and talk to them."
The David he referred to is David Murnaghan of the Boyne Dental and Implant Clinic, Navan who has agreed to apply his expertise to give Michael a new set of teeth with assistance also provided by another company, BioHorizon, who are willing to supply expensive implants. The entire cost of the project is expected to be around €40,000.
Employed as a kitchen porter in the Aviva Stadium Michael Sheridan represented Ireland a number of times at u-19 level at waterpolo but for the past 10 years he has battled with what he has no hesitation in calling an “addiction” to Coca-Cola with the destruction of his teeth one of the consequences.
Because of the way his teeth have deteriorated Michael ended up in a situation where he could not eat solid food with soups and yogurts making up most of his meagre diet.
His teeth also undermined his prospects at work. “I’m in a job now where I’m working for a good boss where if somebody deserves a promotion he or she will get it, there is a lot of room for promotion but I’ve never put my name forward. The next step for me would be meeting clients and if you looked at my teeth who would want that as the face of their company?”
Michael reflected on how his rotting teeth made him feel awkward in social situations and led him into many embarrassing moments. "I could be in a situation with somebody, they’d make a face and straight away I knew they got a smell of my breath.” He recounts a tale from a few weeks ago when he sought to get entry to a pub where he was due to have a social outing with his partner Linda and some friends. Because of work Michael was unable to join the group until later in the night.
NOW WATCH: Dr David Murnaghan explains the procedure that will transform Michael's life and restore his lost smile
“I was going in and the doorman stopped me and asked where I was from. When he saw my teeth he said: ‘Sorry, only regulars tonight,’” he recalls quickly adding he fully understood the reaction.
“If I saw somebody with a mouth like mine, the first thing that would come to my mind would be drug addiction, something like that. I’ve never done drugs, never into drugs, I was always into sport. I played waterpolo for Ireland so in the back of my mind I’d be thinking I could be randomly drug tested, so I was never into them.
“I’m not a big drinker. I’m not into drugs or drink. The doorman saw my teeth and said not tonight, straight away he was thinking drug addiction and I couldn’t blame him, if I was in his situation I’d probably think the same thing.”
Originally from Lucan Michael Sheridan met his partner Linda Smith from Blanchardstown 11 years ago and they now have three children, Callum (8), Darragh (6) and Ryan (5). Michael says now he was “lucky” to meet Linda before his teeth really started to deteriorate. Over the years, he adds, he has come to rely on her in social situations such as getting past inquisitive doormen.
“Usually when we would be in a pub I would ask Linda to got to the bar because I wouldn’t want the barman to see my teeth. If Linda had been with me when the doorman stopped me she would have answered his question. I have kind of used Linda as a crutch, she’d know how to answer the questions.”
Growing up Michael says he developed "an aversion" to brushing his teeth on a regular basis and this, combined with an ever-growing habit of consuming fizzy drinks, made for a lethal cocktail. At its height he said he would put away “five or six litres” of Coke-Cola a day and more if he could get it. Yet it wasn’t only the amount he drank as the way he consumed the sugar-filled concoctions that did the damage.
“If I opened a two-litre bottle of Coke and drank it down in one go that wouldn’t have been too bad but because I was all day sipping Coke my teeth were sitting in that Coke all day.” When he did start to cut back he suffered withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sweating. Now he’s down to one small bottle a day.
Michael and Linda were engaged a few years ago but now they have set their sights on getting married early next year. The marriage is to be held in the Newgrange Hotel in Navan just down the road from the Boyne Dental and Implant Clinic.
“We actually can’t believe he’s going to get his teeth done, we’re still in shock," said Linda. "Just the difference it’s going to make for him in terms of his quality of life, his health, confidence, he was always stepping back and not wanting to mix with people.
“This is a great opportunity, one in a million and we can’t thank David enough for doing it because the money it cost we could never afford it,” she added.