WHEN a mother-of-five wanted a Kardashian-inspired "mommy makeover," she went to Turkey to save money on dental work.
But instead, Natalie Delapaz was left in agony and forced to fork out $35,000 for botched veneers and subsequent repairs.
The 32-year-old exotic animal expert from Los Angeles flew for 20 hours to Turkey for her $10,000 procedure, which included getting veneers and crowns.
She now admits it’s the worst decision she ever made – after months of painful infections.
“Scrolling through social media, I found myself feeling less and less confident," she tells the U.S. Sun.
"Everyone in Hollywood has perfect white teeth. My posts looked so out of place with my off-white teeth and lumps and bumps.
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"I am mom to a 14-year-old, a ten-year-old, a seven-year-old, and six-year-old twins. Having children early left very little time for me to worry about my appearance.
"Returning to part-time work two years ago, in LA where everyone has amazing smiles, I felt awkward and out of place.
"I needed more confidence and a smile makeover was just the ticket," she says.
"I rang dozens of dentists in California and was quoted between $35,000 and $50,000 for veneers to give me my coveted ‘Hollywood smile.'
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"As I couldn’t afford this, I started searching hashtags like veneer, dentist deals, and smile makeovers on TikTok.
"Over the next 12 months, my feed showed me more and more videos of ‘Hollywood smile’ deals in Turkey. Everyone talked about how cheap it was.
"I became obsessed with getting a super dazzling smile to rival the likes of Jennifer Lopez and the Kardashians while paying one-fifth or one-quarter of what it would cost in the United States.
"Influencers made it seem as easy as going on holiday, then walking in and out of the dentist. The chance to travel and work on my suntan was a bonus to me.
"I did my research and even spoke to people online who’d had the procedure at the same clinic.
"When my flight landed in Turkey on April 19, I felt nothing but excitement.
"The day after we arrived, I had what I thought was a consultation with the dentist. I told an interpreter I wanted veneers and was immediately informed they only did crowns.
"I didn’t speak the language, so found it difficult to speak up. I was told I needed 14 crowns on the top, 12 on the bottom, and two root canals.
"The price was what I’d budgeted for and I’d seen so many people visit this clinic online, so I trusted them.
"After the initial consultation, I thought I’d have a day to prepare before my procedure. Instead, I was told to wait downstairs, then informed they were starting immediately.
"Three hours later, and without a cooling-off period to even think about the process, all 24 teeth had been shaved to vampire pegs and two root canals were performed by tag team dentists.
"I was so numb from the anesthetic, all I could feel was pulling, prodding, and the grinding of teeth.
"I was jetlagged, drugged up, and having my entire set of teeth shaved away. It was a brutal experience," she recalls.
"I am bad at asking questions when I am in environments I am not familiar with, and Turkey was somewhere I had never been.
"I walked out of the clinic with shaved teeth, temporary crowns covering them, and my face swollen.
"As the painkillers wore off, excruciating pain throbbed through my jaw and head.
"I was so out of it the first 24 hours, I didn't know what time it was, where I was, or what was happening.
"On day three, I was back in the dentist chair having temporary crowns removed and the permanent crowns cemented in.
"This time, I wasn't offered painkillers, meaning the capping and cementing procedure was excruciating.
"I would jump at every touch told but the nurse told me it was ‘just nerves.’ No X-rays were taken and within 90 minutes, my new smile was glued in.
"I was told to sit still and the cementing of the permanent covers was done in around 20 minutes on top and 20 minutes on the bottom.
"The dentists explained I’d experience some pain and discomfort and gave me a batch of hardcore painkillers," she says, explaining that it was a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called Majezik that is usually used for severe arthritis.
She also got codeine and ibuprofen.
"After eight hours, the pain hadn’t subsided. It felt like knives cutting through my entire jaw. Simple actions like drinking and talking were agony.
"Within 24 hours, I was flying back to the US.
"Three weeks later, I couldn’t eat properly and was still taking painkillers. I was taking Majezik once a day and reliant on them because the pain was so severe. I’d know when it was wearing off and this wasn’t normal after a few weeks," she recalls.
She says she lost 12 pounds within a week and was in constant discomfort.
"When I was still on painkillers four months later, my mom forced me to go to a different dentist in LA," says Delapaz.
"He discovered the crowns were not properly capped, so the cementing was leaking food and dangerous bacteria underneath into my shaved teeth.
"The cementation had not been sealed, no final X-ray had been completed, and the fit was wrong.
"The crowns were now loose, they clicked, and the infections were agony.
"I had multiple rounds of antibiotics and painkillers. The dentist said I needed a do-over or I’d lose my teeth.
"As a mom-of-five with a full-time job, it was horrifying. I visited 10 LA dentists and was quoted between $30,000 and $50,000 to repair the damage done.
"Meanwhile, the Turkish clinic also offered to ‘fix’ the procedure, which would have been free with me paying airfares. There was no offer of follow-up care or doing it in partial procedures,
"I couldn’t trust them after what happened the first time round, so I turned elsewhere – and eventually found a dental expert in Tijuana, Mexico, a short drive away.
"I have so far spent almost ten thousand, with further procedures, planned to fix the damage done in Turkey.
"He’d already helped multiple patients fix their botched Turkey teeth. He scraped out the infection, re-did the shavings, and removed my crowns, making sure the new ones were properly filled and sealed.
"It’s been an exhausting experience – both mentally and physically.
"The dentist in Mexico was excellent and thorough. He told me he’d never recommend having the shavings and root canals done in one procedure, it’s dangerous.
"I had to take out loans just to repair my teeth. I’ve lost weight and self-confidence.
"I will need more follow-up visits and while my smile looks great now, it’s come at a huge cost. It’s affected my children, my family, and my work.
"I think there need to be much stricter rules in place for dentists in Turkey and I want clinics to be banned from posting on social media, because it’s so easy for people like me to be pulled in.
"My ‘celebrity smile’ has caused me months of agony. All in all, my teeth will have cost more than $35,000 and I could have paid less at a great LA dentist. I regret ever getting on a plane to Turkey.
"I’ve shared my story on TikTok to raise awareness. I still see Americans flying there for ‘Kardashian smiles’ and they need to be warned.
"My advice is to think again, unless you want to be out of work, in pain, and out of pocket," she says.
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