Some people have a fear of going places, such as a doctor or dentist. However, sometimes that fear, and staying away, can make health problems even worse. That fear led to one woman being afraid to simply smile in front of others, a fear that, thanks to a Watertown dental surgeon, she will no longer face.

“These, as much as I hate them, have been good,” Fulton resident Jennifer Bennett said about face masks.

Masks are serving a different type of purpose for Bennett, who goes out of her way to keep people from seeing what she believes about herself, a flaw impossible to embrace her smile.

“I hated the dentist. I absolutely hated the dentist,” she said.

A debilitating fear that kept her away from dentists for so long left her teeth in what she describes as a decayed nightmare.

“It’s hard working with the public and going through life not wanting to smile because you’re embarrassed,” Bennett said.

It wasn’t until late last year when she decided enough was enough. The one-on-one aid in the Fulton City School District was at a teeth cleaning when her dentist told her about a Watertown dental surgeon offering a contest, for a free $50,000 mouth makeover.

“It was a day before the contest ended,” Bennett remembered.

The makeover will be performed by Upstate Oral Surgery and Dental Implants Surgeon Dr. Logan Curtis. The goal will be to get Jennifer comfortable and happy to smile once again.

“It means the world to me. I just think I’m going to feel better about myself. I won’t be so conscious about smiling or who I am talking to,” Bennett said.

Jennifer will get a consultation in the near future before getting surgery in the spring. Jennifer says the biggest change will be at her job, where she will be able to comfortably talk with students, staff and parents.