Last week, Reddit user Tomato_Juice99 posted a message titled "My teeth hurt so bad that I feel like death is the only way I will get relief."
The post reads:
[Remorse]: Not all days, but most my teeth hurt and I have no way to stop the pain. I live in the USA and cannot afford insurance to get it fixed. If I had the money to get them all pulled and replaced I would, but the dental place told me it would cost over $7,000.
My life has been going well for the most part lately and I feel horrible for even thinking of wanting to die to escape the pain. I have 2 kids that need me and a family that loves me, but love doesn't buy new teeth.
Soon after, a Reddit user named SushiAndWoW responded with an incredibly generous offer to pay for Tomato_Juice99's dental work.
The full post reads:
If this is true, I will pay for your treatment. Either at a place near you, or if it's more cost-effective, I will buy you a ticket to Costa Rica, and for you to get treatment at a reputable clinic here.
You can check my history to see that this is a legitimate account that's not into trolling. I can't help everyone in the world, but I can help you. Your situation hits a nerve with me.
Maybe you can make it up to me by posting before and after pictures, or something. That would be nice to see.
Tomato_Juice99 later updated his post with a recent dental x-ray (which he'd had done for free), to show the extent of the damage.
In an email, Tomato_Juice99 told BuzzFeed News:
My name is Dakota, I'm 26 and I'm for Anderson, SC. I am a working father of two kids, 8 year old son and a 6 year old girl. I am currently living with my mother so I can take care of her when I'm not working (I'm her guardian ad litem).
When I was in 9th grade I was a big kid so I started starving myself, but my family noticed that I was losing weight so they forced me to eat. Little did they know I was throwing it up. I was aware that it could damage my esophagus, but I didn't know that my teeth could be damaged. I also didn't know that brushing after is actually bad, since the teeth are weak from the stomach acid.
I wouldn't see the consequences of my actions until it was too late in the summer of 2006. I was at my first job and I felt my tongue being poked, it was because my front tooth chipped away. I started brushing twice each day after that, but it was already too late. One by one, each tooth would chip or start decaying. It was a nightmare, but one that I did to myself.
Dakota has been living with the pain and working for several years to try to get insurance:
Fast forward to now: I have been trying to save up and working my tail off at the same job for the last 3 years to get hired in so I can afford insurance to take care of my problem. I am still going to keep working hard and hopefully one day be able to afford medical and dental insurance, but thanks to the reddit community I can not have to worry about the oral pain for much longer.
I originally posted to reddit and went straight to sleep, to get rid of the tooth pain. I didn't think anyone would respond, never-the-less get all the attention I've gotten since posting. It has been truly amazing to see so many people wanting to help me. Most of my family is excited for me, while some remain skeptical that strangers would want to help me... just an average guy.
My kids on the other hand are stoked to see me with "a beautiful mouth."
And the kindness didn't stop there. A day later, a user named danhook, a dentist in Florida, offered to do the work for free if Dakota could get to his practice.
Another Reddit user offered to use his own reward points to get Dakota a hotel while he received treatment.
I've received so many messages and I've read them all. People telling me their stories that are similar to mine, people telling me that they are jealous and wished they posted prior to me posting so they could receive the help I am and some people telling me how touching my story is and wishing the best for me.
This experience has truly changed the way I view people in the world, for the better.
Dakota has set up a fundraiser to help cover the costs, and said he plans to use the donations to help others.
After I cover any expenses like the final set of teeth, I will indeed be keeping my word and giving all the rest of the money to people that suffer like I am.
All the money I receive will be going toward travel expenses and anything else need for the procedure to take place. I will not be keeping any of it for my pleasure. Even if I can only help a few people out, it's worth more than if I bought some material items for myself or paid off my car.