A Bristol man who lost all his teeth has started a crowdfunder to get his smile back again.
Aleksandar Stoilov, 35, started to suddenly lose his teeth five years ago and the last one snapped off this month.
All that remains in his once healthy mouth are tiny stumps where the teeth broke off and what’s left of a plastic dental bridge.
And now the final year university student from Staple Hill has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the £10,000 needed for implants and the reconstruction of new jawbone in places that are too damaged.
Until five years ago, Aleksander had healthy teeth and no serious problems and the reason why they have all broken off close to the gum is a mystery.
He says he has been trying to register for a NHS doctor in Bristol for two years without success and without a dentist’s referral, he can’t visit the dental hospital either.
When he returned home to Bulgaria, his doctor suggested it may be linked to an antibiotic given to babies in the country, but the problem is nothing to do with periodontitis, which is often a cause of tooth loss.
His lack of teeth has meant that Aleksander is having problems eating solid food and he has digestive system issues due to the fact he swallows food rather than chews it.
“My teeth break even with the softest food I eat,” says Aleksander. “Even soft bread can cause my teeth to snap off.
“I can’t chew at all. I’m surviving on mashed potatoes and the other day my wife blitzed up some chicken from KFC in the blender.”
Aleksander’s wife, Patricia, is a maternity nurse and she has had to cook him separate meals as well as deal with his anxiety and panic attacks.
She says: “I knew about Alex’s problem when we met two years ago and had some fake teeth on the bottom and top.
“I’m a very sensitive person and that kind of thing doesn’t bother me, I love him for his personality, but it’s heartbreaking to see him struggle.
“The worst thing is when he has panic attacks because I work in the hospital and when I’m on a night shift, if he’s home having an attack it’s stressful for us both.
“I’m constantly trying to think what to feed him and it’s mostly mashed potatoes and meatballs - I don’t want him to lose any more weight.”
Aleksander’s lack of teeth means that it has also stopped him from doing other things.
He says: “I can’t smile and I stopped communicating with other people in general ages ago. Last year, we had a presentation at university in front of teachers and students and it was horrible - I was shaking, I felt so bad.
“I must have been the only person unhappy when the government said people didn’t have to wear face coverings. Masks were a good thing for me.
“It’s now affecting me mentally and I’ve started to have panic attacks. The stress is building up because it’s stopping me achieve so many things and I don’t have any confidence at the moment.”
To be helped in England, Aleksander says he would need approximately £40,000, which he can’t afford because he’s a full-time student and also works part-time. He’s also step-dad to Patricia’s two children, Tara, 10 and Kaspian, 8.
He says: “I’ve now found a clinic in my hometown in Bulgaria, who are specialists in implantology and they are charging around £10,000.
“You go there for a week-long procedure, which includes removing the roots from both jaws, but you leave with a new smile so it’s worth it.”
Aleksander’s only hope now is that people donate money to his GoFundMe campaign but he admits it is a last resort.
“I’m a photography student so I can’t get a loan for £10,000 and this is my only chance to raise the money for the dental work. I really need help and I don’t have any choice - but I don’t like having to depend on people and it has been hard to admit I need help.
“I’m also struggling to speak properly now. I can’t pronounce words and I can’t recognise my own speech - the other day, I had to repeat five times where I wanted to go to the bus driver.”
Although the loss of teeth has removed his smile for the time being, Aleksander hasn’t lost his sense of humour.
He says his step-children joke about it and have even offered to make new fake teeth with their chewing gum and sweets.
“When the kids lose a tooth, they now offer me their old ones so maybe I can create something with those for the time being!”
To donate to Aleksander’s fundraiser, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/h8vuyj-help-me-to-smile-again