Are you familiar with the story of Cleopatra? If you are you might remember at the end of her life she stuck her hand in a basket filled with snakes. Venomous snakes to be exact, Snakes known to the free world as “ASP”. More than likely the Asp was an Egyptian cobra.
While there are not a lot of Egyptian cobras in the states. There are many breeds of venomous snakes. I am using this metaphor today because it is part of the word ASPEN and this whole situation is slithery!
Everyone wants to know what happened with ASPEN Dental and The ASPEN Group, So here it is for everyone to read and share and tag.
When I was 35 and living in California, I chipped a tooth and noticed that it was decaying under the enamel facade. As an actor I had worked odd jobs here and there and did not have the insurance needed to get continued dental care. I finally was able to obtain a job with dental insurance and ran to the nearest dentist to be evaluated. Upon completion of that visit I found out that all 32 of my remaining teeth were decaying and all needed root canals. That my Molars were impacted each with 3 roots and growing Sideways and that It was probably best to have them all pulled out as opposed to sitting in a chair for 9 to 10 months getting each tooth in shape and crowned.
My insurance was not going to cover the work so on some level I felt like I was back to square one.
Because XXY manifest during the developmental stages of birth most of my adult teeth still resembled Childrens teeth so I reached out to a Grant program in Southern California that aided children in dental services, explained my needs and asked if they had any resources left after helping children in the area if they could throw some help my way.
They agreed to that prospect and sent me to a dentist In Garden Grove, California. That Dentist Office ended up being a lifesaver and a God thing. The grant would pay some of it and I would be responsible for the balance. It was decided initially to remove the teeth and then set me up with implants. The process was arduous to say the least. We removed 5 to 7 teeth per sitting with a day of rest between them. i then was wearing a mask to work as I was a tour guide and acting in the area. As the work progressed and the teeth were removed, we finally came down to the final seven when the Dentist asked me “Do you trust me?” I replied with “I hope so!! i just entrusted you to remove all my teeth!!” “Why?? do you ask?” He then said, “Well, most of your teeth suffer from something called taurodontism ! Although it is frequently an isolated anomaly, it may be found in association with several other conditions such as: amelogenesis imperfecta, Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Mohr syndrome, Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, Lowe syndrome, ectodermal dysplasia and tricho-dento-osseous syndrome. Thats not a huge deal and is attributed to you being XXY but it has allowed a bone bacteria to affect for jaw bone and we are going to have to change our course. You are not a candidate anymore for implants, We are going to have to give you dentures. We also have to eradicate the bacteria in your jaw . so for the next week my gums were opened, and extensive work was done to scrape and fissure my jaw back into something that would hold dentures. It was the most pain I have ever felt in my life. Dentures at 35 years old felt like a death sentence. When all the work was said and done the Dr. presented me with a mega watt smile. He then said, with XXY I know what you face ahead. So whatever the grant doesn’t cover I am going to cover out of pocket. He did. Between the 7K dollar Dentures, Top of the Line, beautifully crafted smile. The rest of the work totaled 29k dollars. I Cried. Let that sink in. I really cried when I found out the Grant only covered 1k dollars of the final bill. I had been given a smile and that smile opened up the world for me.
I took the best care of these teeth, for 13 years! They never lost their color or durability, They didn’t fade, they held in place as they are supposed to do. They fit my face, they gave me a smile I had longed for and they allowed me to eat, and live a life where No one guessed I even had dentures.
Now its 13 years later and people are amazed at how durable they are and how great they are made and how wonderful they have been for me and how brilliantly white they are! Alas , it was time to have them relined so that they could fit a little bit better though. A lot of people do not realize that when dentures are made some adjustments may be needed to ensure proper fit, but You should not have to apply adhesives or glue when they are new, the suction should allow the denture to adhere to your gumline. Yes, over time you might need a form of goop or glue, but initially they should securely fit. A soft reline consist of a film being poured into your existing denture so that it grips into your mouth easier. Most relines can be done while you wait or even chairside and cost around 200-300 dollars US.
I am not currently loaded and decided that I could probably get something like a simple reline done at Aspen Dental and that it would probably be cheaper. I stopped into the Savannah, Georgia office on Abercorn across from my nail salon and inquired about the service. I set up a payment plan because I was told they charge 600$ and needed a deposit and then made an appt.
When the appointment day arrived, I was excited. mainly because I was shooting a movie scene the following Sunday on a production being filmed and was assured the work would be done in the Lab same day with their traveling Lab Tech, Kevin. They said they would take molds and measurements, I would leave my dentures and then come back later on in the day to pick them up. As I sat in the chair in the dental office that morning, Kevin was sharing with another staff member that he did not particularly like working in the savannah office as the patients here put a lot of pressure on him. He stated that “The patients in Savannah are either really Rich or really Poor and they all bitch about the results, whereas patients in the Rincon Ga. location are just rural and appreciative to have teeth at all!” That should of been my warning sign. I half expected Jeff Foxworthy to step in and say “Here’s your sign, Juleigh!!”
At that point Kevin came in looked at my dentures and seemed confused as to what we were doing that day, He couldn’t seem to figure out if he should re set them, reline them, soft reline, hard reline. I’m not even sure he knew what he was doing in the lab that day. After asking everyone in the offices opinion the actual dentist came in and said, she is getting a Soft Reline!”
The aide assisted I choked on some funky blue stuff made the typical molds and left the dentures to be relined..
That afternoon I was called back into the office to pick them up. AI approached the desk and a new office worker was there named “Cheyanne”. Chyanne was super sweet and handed me a ziploc bag with mouthwash in it and my dentures. “Go into the Lobby bathroom and try them on!” I thought this isn’t super professional…Go see if they fit in the Lobby Bathroom!? I pulled the dentures out and noticed the gums were darker almost purple where before they were a healthier pink. They also, now had a more pronounced forced pointed aesthetic to the whole two plates the upper plate resembled to front of a locomotion train with the pointed grill. I placed them in my mouth and the top plate fell out, I put the lower plate in and it also didn’t fit. How is this happening. This is NOT what a reline should fit or feel like!!
I told Cheyanne they didn’t work, and she said let’s go back and make some adjustments. She led me back to the same room I had been in previously that morning, right next to the Lab. There were other patients in ear shot as they were trying to finish up with other patients before closing. Cheyanne took the dentures into Kevin and said Shes not happy with them. I have told this story over and over and even typing it now has brought tears up as I write this. Kevin in an audible voice says “I was hit on years ago by a tranny! You could not tell for a moment that she had a dick between its legs! You Could NOT Tell!! That’s not my thing and I had to decline the advance!” The machine is buzzing as the dentures is being adjusted and then he says to Chyanne. ” It’s probably upset that this reline makes its jaw a little more masculine, which is how it probably looked before it Transitioned!!” Not He not she but “IT”. He assumed I was Trans and referred to me in a dentist Office full of clients as an “IT”!!! If I could hear the conversation who else could hear it?? I sat in the chair mortified! Do I really look masculine, Do people in general see me as masculine. I don’t even Identify as trans! You messed my dentures up! This cannot be happening.! At that moment Cheyanne returned to the room handing me the dentures and said “Try This.” I looked at her and said. “I am not trans I am Intersex! That is also NOT a conversation that should be had in ANY Office where others can hear!!” The adjustments didn’t help so she took them back in and shared my disdain. The conversation dropped to a whisper. When Cheyanne came back in , Kevin now followed. Kevin tried to convince me that an Overbite is natural! To which I said, “If an overbite is natural why do adults spend thousands to put their kids in braces!!” I was super upset and super nervous and kept directing my attention to Cheyanne. Trying to use the situation as a teaching moment I shared why that initial set of dentures were so important to me. I shared what it meant to be Intersex and not Trans and I shared the difference between the two. Kevin picked up on the fact that I was an actress and I shared that I didn’t have teeth now for an upcoming gig and he then asked “What Kind Of Actress Are You??” When I’m nervous I resort to comedy , first. I looked at Chyanne and rolled my eyes and said “Porn”! Kevin then announced that he watches Trans Porn with his Dog, sometimes!
He leaves the room proud of himself and Cheyanne says “he likes to talk a lot” I was ushered out of the building as they were closing. I sat in my truck, shaking. I sat in my truck and cried, I sat in my truck defeated, defamed, scared and toothless. I sat in my truck and felt for the first time in a long time, broken. I felt Broken. I was toothless.
I then made a viral TikTok. to date on one account its been viewed 1.7 million times. Over 75k likes and 7k plus comments of others who have been ridiculed, harassed and abused at the hands of countless Aspen Dentals across the Country. They are franchised like a fast food chain and fall under the Aspen Group! On another TickTok account it has over 1k comments of the same vitriol for patient care across the board. It has over 5k likes and is growing, I posed the initial video on a Thursday night of the incident and tagged all appropriate parties, and used my social media platforms as a battle cry! By Friday night 24 hours later Aspens Risk management team had reached out to my Attorney in Florida and then By Saturday morning I was meeting with Aspen over coffee to mitigate the situation.
Initially Aspen promised to make me 2 sets of New Dentures to replace the set that was destroyed comparable in price. They wanted me to meet with the head of their denture program who was flying in from Canada!! They threw all the bells and whistles at me. They kept saying “This is Not who we are!!” Let us fix this! I said lets fix this. When I got the initial set I had even made a congratulatory tok celebrating and praising the work…shame on me that was before the glitz wore off to reveal all the problems this new set was having! I was trying to do right by a company that said they were going to help me! They haven’t fixed it. @ sets turned into 1 set being made in Canada of one material and the other set being made in America of another material. One set being made with a special bleach that 3 weeks later has faded and one set looking like the color of a corpse. They talked about being open to having a video made to teach their staff about being inclusive to Trans and Intersex individuals in the world of dentistry and well that never happened and the Best Set still gives me ulcers and sores in new places, I cant eat with them, They have faded, They still give an overbite, they have still changed my overall look and shape of my jaw and they make me whistle. They require copious amounts of paste and glue just to stay in!! They Kept saying let us fix it and “THEY DIDNT!” “THEY FIXED NOTHING!”
They have never once apologized for KEVIN or the rhetoric used in that office, they broke HIPPA Laws and numerous other Laws. Jeannie Henry who is in charge of risk management did tell my lawyer that her daughter was gay so she understood. WHAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND, JEANIE??? EXACTLY??? For the most part Lesbian and Gay individuals are left alone. Jeannie? Do You understand that I could have left that small Georgia office and been MURDERED by anyone on the premises that hates the TRANS community??? Does that fall into your perimeter of Understanding?? TRANS individuals are murdered in this country!! Franchise or Not Kevin is an employee of THE ASPEN GROUP!! The Parent company allowed this to happen! It has come to my attention just today a “Lesbian woman in Texas was harassed in an Aspen Dental Office!” Then there are the accounts on Facebook and other platforms that call on your parent company to be shut down!! The class action lawsuits against Aspen! The comments of how people are treated on my social alone is staggering. THE WHOLE GROUP IS FILLED WITH ASP!!
We are all Human, we all should be lifting each other up! Not Gouging people out of money and returning poor services to them! My Teeth are my Livelihood, I speak publicly on what it means to be Intersex, I tell my story I lead with confidence and champion the marginalized communities to ask for help, to seek the medical care they need and deserve! This one act by Aspen has sent thousands of intersex and trans and other marginalized individuals many steps back. they are not going to seek out help now that they have seen someone, they look up to being mistreated and defamed and treated as an “IT!”
This whole diatribe has left me questioning my purpose. My worth. I never have been treated so ill in my life. I’m losing sleep, I’m losing my confidence, it is affecting me in ways that are cataclysmic to my platforms and advocacy. ASPEN you have destroyed me. I do not have the mega watt smile I once had. Youve taken that from me and so much more. The lack of a properly fitting denture is going to lead to even more problems with my mouth and Jaw line! this error on your part could cost me much more than a better set of dentures in the long run! If I allow fissures and sores to erode my gums caused by your poor dentures Im looking at death. It will affect My body in ways that my auto immune will not be able to fight off!! THIS IS NOT WHO YOU ARE?? I THINK ITS EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE!! I Hope every single one of you in this corporation has the Day That You Deserve. I hope that every patient you have wronged has the courage to stand up to you and I hope they all find better care!
Sleepless and Toothless in Savannah, Dead without Dentures -Juleigh