Dentist’s gift helps Cape Coral woman erase dark past

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan
Published: Updated:

CAPE CORAL, Fla. Michelle Werline had every reason to smile once she got her life back in order.

But she didn’t want to because of her teeth, which reflected the jagged path she left behind.

“I’m a recovering drug addict,” Werline said. “I started using drugs and alcohol when I was very young, 9, 10 years old, and you know, I didn’t really stop until I was 36. So a lot of damage has been done.”

Thanks to Dr. Kile Sherry, owner of Reef Family and Cosmetic Dentistry on 3015 SW Pine Island Road, that damage is now hidden behind 12 new crowns. Normally, the dental work would cost about $12,000. But Sherry, with the help of the New World Dental Lab, did it for free.

“I really think it’s about good people,” Sherry said. “Good things should happen to them and Michelle’s one of those people.”

Sherry asked friends around town who made an impact in the community and Werline’s name kept coming up. About a month ago, they met and he felt compelled to help her once he learned what she’d been through.

Werline battled not just addiction but also an eating disorder she developed when she was 12. Her teeth started to crack when she was 25. One of her front teeth broke when she was 34. That’s when she started feeling self-conscious.

“It causes me to not make eye contact, because I don’t want to really see that someone’s looking at my teeth,” she said before Sherry went to work.

Werline overcame her addiction, earned an associate’s degree and built a new life, with a home and two children.

“I want the joy that I feel on the inside to come through, to come through my smile,” she said.

Werline shed tears of joy as she looked at her reconstructed teeth in the mirror for the first time.

“You did good,” she told Sherry.

Werline is anxious to enjoy the little things she missed while her teeth were in disrepair, like eating chips. And she’s also eager to share her story in the hopes of inspiring other addicts who are trying to get clean.

Life can go on — and get much better, Werline said.


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