“Now that I have teeth, I can smile confidently, and it makes a huge difference.”
Thomas Weller sounded like a commercial spokesman for dental implants.
Forgive him. He’s clearly happy.
Weller, better known as the San Diego Highwayman, recently got dental implants after not having a full set of teeth for more than 20 years. He only got them through the kindness of strangers.
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“I’ll let you know when I can eat a rack of ribs,” he chuckled. “It takes months for them to heal.”
The Highwayman spent the better part of five decades patrolling San Diego County freeways, looking for stranded motorists and helping them get on their way. He would give them a gallon of gas, change a tire, or even give them a car battery. Health issues forced him to retire more than three years ago.
“I hope that people will remember and pass it on,” Weller said.
When he lost his last anchor tooth for his dentures, the 72-year-old knew it was time to get dental implants or his health would be impacted. However, he couldn’t afford the $50,000 price tag. Weller said he swallowed his pride and asked for help in an online fundraiser.
“It’s very, very difficult,” he admitted in 2020.
The community responded. More than 1,100 people donated, giving Weller more than enough for the surgery with Dr. Robert Minor at Dove Canyon Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.
“I’m very grateful to everybody that contributed,” he said smiling.