EDMOND, Okla. - For years, an Oklahoma man hid his missing teeth with closed smiles, but now Dan Mark is honoring a local dentist who he says completely transformed his life by surprising him with a free set of dentures.
"It was a mess, and I'm so happy to have a new smile," Dan said.
Dan works at Camp's Quick Change Oil in Edmond, where Dentist Mike Wallace is a customer.
On each visit, Dr. Mike, as he's called, noticed Dan had no teeth left in the front, and that all 14 of his remaining teeth needed to be pulled.
Because of Dan's kindness, Dr, Mike gave him the gift of a brand new smile.
"It's a life-changing thing," Dan said.
After four months of work and nearly $5,000 dollars worth of free work, Dan is proudly smiling like he never has before.
"I would never open my mouth, I never smiled in family pictures because I had bad teeth," Dan said. "It's tremendous, you can walk up and talk to people, you can be more outgoing, and the way people react to you is just special. You know, it was something I always wanted to look into, but I thought I could never afford. I don't have any dental insurance or anything like that. I just felt like it was God's gift to me somehow, you know, that it was meant to happen," Dan said.
That's why Dan wanted to surprise Dr. Mike with a gift of his own - a $400 Pay It Forward award from First Fidelity Bank.
News 4 set up a fake dental appointment at Wallace Family Dentistry in Edmond, where our news crew hid in the exam room with Dan to capture the moment Dr. Mike walked in with a stunned look on his face, as his nurses, who were in on the surprise, lined the hallways, giggling.
With a huge smile on his face, Dan put out his hand and said, "On behalf of First Fidelity Bank and News 4, I'd like to present you with $400."
"That is awesome, thanks Dan!" Dr. Mike said.
"Dr. Mike, I can't express my appreciation for all you've done for me," Dan said.
Dr. Mike replied, "Well, that's awesome, we can make this go to the right people too."
Dan isn't the only person Dr. Mike has gifted with a new smile.
He also creates smiles for others in need a couple of times each year, and like Dan, he chooses them for their kindness, and because they never asked for anything.
"It's the best part of my job," said Dr. Mike. "It's just something that does warm your heart and make you feel great about what you do."
He says Dan's immense appreciation makes his heart feel full.
"I see him glowing every time he comes in. He comes in with piles of thank you's and big warm smiles for everybody," Dr. Mike said.
As the old saying goes, a smile is worth a thousand words, but if you ask Dan, it's worth far more.
"I'm forever grateful to him," Dan said, smiling from ear to ear.
Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.