Kiwi woman Shontelle Crosby's smile goes global

Shontelle Crosby, right, says she feels "smiles" better after receiving a completely new set of teeth worth $30,000  - FOR FREE. Photo / CATERS
Shontelle Crosby, right, says she feels "smiles" better after receiving a completely new set of teeth worth $30,000 - FOR FREE. Photo / CATERS

In the past, sharing her smile with the world would have terrified Shontelle Crosby. But since the Auckland mother was gifted a new set of teeth, her grin has gone global.

The 33-year-old's story of living with a deformed smile before receiving $30,000's worth of dental work has reached international media, with Shontelle's pearly whites splashed on news sites in the UK, Australia and the US.

Shontelle's journey

Aucklander Shontelle Crosby struggled with confidence her entire life because of her mangled mouth which was the result of being born with too many teeth and a small jaw.

Shontelle's smile was crooked and discoloured through no fault of her own and despite brushing and flossing twice a day, she was often criticised for her hygiene habits and left feeling depressed by the constant humiliation she faced.

Shontelle Crosby struggled with confidence her entire life because of her teeth. Photo / CATERS
Shontelle Crosby struggled with confidence her entire life because of her teeth. Photo / CATERS



But after grabbing the attention of a local radio station, Shontelle was gifted a brand new smile valued at $30,000.

On September 12 Shontelle had her final appointment where dentists pulled her remaining teeth and fitten her with dentures.

Over three months she has had 20 TEETH pulled, four fillings, four cleans and complete top and partial bottom dentures made.

Shontelle, 33, from Auckland, had a deformed smile since she was 13 years old. The eldest of five children to a single working mum, there was no room in the family's budget to get Shontelle the dental care she desperately needed.

She said: "It wasn't my mum's fault. She worked full time and struggled to make ends meet.

"But my teeth were so squashed and over time they deteriorated. I brushed twice a day and flossed as best I could between my overcrowded teeth, but they continued to decay and get even more crooked.


The eldest of five children to a single working mum, there was no room in the family's budget to get Shontelle the dental care she desperately needed. Photo / CATERS
The eldest of five children to a single working mum, there was no room in the family's budget to get Shontelle the dental care she desperately needed. Photo / CATERS

"During my 20s I had constant toothaches from my teeth trying to push through."

Shontelle would often get comments from friends advising her to get dentures, saying things like, "You're a pretty person, but your teeth are ruining your smile".

Although aware that he friends were "just trying to help" Shontelle admits that those words made her even more self-conscious and greatly lowered her self-esteem to point where her livelihood was effected.

Fearing that her teeth would make a bad impression on potential employers, Shontelle estimates that she skipped out on half a dozen job interviews that she was offered.

But eventually the need to feed her family forced her to push past her fears.

She said: "I never smiled and I always used to cover my mouth when I talked.

"I'm a pretty confident person, but not when it came to talking to someone face to face. I'd never take photos with my children, either.

"They'd always ask to take selfies with me, but that would make me really angry."

Eventually, with the help of a recruitment agency, Shontelle was able to secure a job at Honda.

Her recruitment advisor contacted the car manufacturer to set up the interview and give them a heads up about her teeth.

Shontelle said: "I work on the phone, not on the floor, which is probably why I got the job!"

In April this year, a fundraising page was set up by a friend, Tracey, to help raise funds towards a new smile for Shontelle.

Shontelle used to hate photos. Now she's happy to pose for a pic. Photo / CATERS
Shontelle used to hate photos. Now she's happy to pose for a pic. Photo / CATERS



Coincidently, just a month later, radio station MoreFM aired a segment discussing whether or not people were satisfied with their smiles.

With the help of her younger sister, Amanda, Shontelle filmed the now video where she zooms inside her mouth and explains the severity of her situation.

A couple of days later, after seeing the video, Alpers Dental Company contacted Shontelle and offered to give her a new smile completely free of charge.

Shontelle said: "It was completely overwhelming and the most emotional thing I've ever been through.

"The first appointment was in July and they told me that all of my top teeth had to be taken out.

"From there, we discussed how my dentures would look and we decided on an off white colour and to keep my bottom teeth not completely straight.

"Nobody's teeth are pure white and I didn't want them to look fake. After that I put all of my trust in them."

Shontelle was already crying before she saw her new smile.

She said: "They hadn't even handed me the mirror yet, but I could feel them. It was that one thing I'd wished for my whole life and it all happened in that one moment.

"The following day Alphers Dental Group arranged a big reveal so I could show off my new smile to my partner, Richard.

"The dentist did my eyebrows and they had a hairstylist and makeup artist there as well. It was so overwhelming to see myself and Richard was in complete shock."

Before, Shontelle admits that she never put in much effort towards her appearance, knowing that her teeth would only destroy any confidence.

She would make up excuses to avoid going out and even considered skipping her own brother's wedding.

Shontelle said her daughter's were proud of her new teeth too.

She said: "If we see someone we haven't seen since it happened, they'll shout, 'have you seen my mum's teeth?'

"They tell me they think I'm pretty. And now I'm happy to pose in photos with them.

"People have told me I still have to learn how to smile, though. It's something I've been practicing in the mirror."

Shontelle, who makes about 100 calls a day at her job, says that work has been a bit of a challenge lately as she learns to speak with her new teeth, but at less than a month post-op that's to be expected.

She's about 80 per cent recovered with still a few stitches and stuck on a diet of soup until her mouth is fully healed, but a little pain is nothing compared to the happiness she'll feel on her wedding day.

Shontelle and Richard are set to marry next March.

Shontelle said: "I don't think my teeth were ever a factor for him. He always told me I was beautiful.

"Still, I'm extremely happy I will have a perfect smile in our wedding photos."

- CATERS

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