The power of a smile; domestic violence survivor’s new outlook on life

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Carolyn Dolcimascolo
Published: Updated:

Until recently, Tiffany Nemec would do just about anything for you to not look at her smile or face. But, that’s changed.

WINK News Anchor Nicole Gabe first introduced you to Nemec two years ago. A domestic violence survivor, Nemec’s body and mind were altered after a near-fatal attack.

Today, the woman, the mom, the survivor has her smile back.

“They’re beautiful. They’re white,” she said, referring to her teeth. “I get compliments everywhere I go.”

She owns it. She flaunts it. She is not apologetic.

“The biggest, brightest smile that I think I ever had,” added Nemec.

Credit: Tiffany Nemec

The reason is, that nearly 16 years ago, she was shot twice by her ex.

“I had my back teeth blown out, my front teeth, some of them were blown out, some were just chipped,” she reflected on her past. “He tracked me down to my new apartment, shot the locks off the door, shot my face, or shot my stomach first, then in my face. When he shot me the second time, he stood over me and then shot himself.”

As a domestic violence survivor who endured physical and psychological pain caused more than a decade ago, Nemec told Gabe she wanted new teeth. Not dentures, but implants. However, her insurance wouldn’t cover it. The company considered the procedure cosmetic.

“I remember two very distinct times, seriously contemplating committing suicide because of my mouth,” said Nemec. “One was just because I was in so much physical pain. And, I already have a lot of pain from my injuries.

Help is on the way

But Doctor Mauricio Martinez, who focuses on restorative dentistry, didn’t see it as cosmetic. He and his wife didn’t know Nemec until they saw her story on WINK News.

“It was your segment. We were having breakfast on a Sunday morning and Tiffany’s story came on,” recalled Martinez. “My wife just looked at me and she’s like, you have to do something for her.”

And, they did.

“We do pro bono dentistry all the time,” said the dentist. “But I think Tiffany’s was the biggest magnitude case, most involved.”

It took Martinez and his team nearly a year to get things in order. For Nemec, it was consultations, x-rays, and extractions.

“These visits were always so hard because I was so ashamed of how my mouth looked,” added the patient.

Martinez worked with his partners and distributors to ease her financial responsibility, because permanent dental implants can cost $20,000 to $30,000. Thanks to Martinez Martinez and his team at Gulf Coast Smiles in Cape Coral, Biohorizons Implant Systems, and the company NDX nSequence Dental Laboratory, the entire procedure was nearly free.

“Everything except for something some anesthesia services,” Martinez added.

And Nemac had help through donations to pay for the anesthesia. We don’t have a complete list, but those who helped include: Pillar’s Empanada, Brooke’s Restaurant and lounge, Gather Beverage Company, and Elevation Home Services.

Nemac’s overjoyed, explaining, “I do believe that God used Mr. Martinez and his wife to be like an angel on Earth to me.”

And, nearly 16 years later, Tiffany Nemac’s smiling again. She finally feels free from pain, abuse, and shame. She’s a survivor.

Resources for help

Click here to visit The Shelter for Abused Women & Children website for more information.

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for more information.

Click here for more information from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Below are other domestic violence resources to contact for help.

ACT 24-Hour Crisis Helpline: 239-939-3112
Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-500-1119
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 888-956-7273
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888

Past reports

Why didn’t she leave? An expert and a domestic violence survivor explain

Survivor of domestic violence shares her experiences

Domestic abuse victim shot in the face gets free implants and prosthetics

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