Pugh has new teeth |

Two Hermitage dentists work to give James Pugh a bright smile.

Upon hearing of his plight, dentists Dr Tyler Miller and his fiancée Dr Krysten Clark contacted Barstool Sports. The digital media company owns Rough N’ Rowdy where Pugh fights.

“I was watching one of their paid games and they announced they would pay for his teeth to be restored,” Miller said.

Through social media, he reached out to the company and landed the job for Pugh’s dental work.

The healthcare pair begin their careers here by moving to the area in July from the Cleveland area. They purchased Dr. Roni Rosati’s dental practice and renamed it Hickory Hills Family Dental.

The paths of the two dentists in their professional and personal lives are very different from those of Pugh. Living in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area, the fighter is a full-time auto mechanic for Walmart, the two dentists said.

Pugh and her fiancé live in a trailer with their five children, Miller said, and a sixth is on the way. Miller and her fiancé plan a summer wedding while temporarily living in an apartment. Their plan is to buy a house in about a year and possibly start a family.

For Pugh, he wanted to have a dazzling smile for his children.

“When his kids smile at him, he told me he wouldn’t smile because of his teeth,” Miller said.

While strategizing, Pugh was asked to send the Hermitage dental practice photos of his teeth.

“It was bad,” Miller said.

Over the years, Pugh has lost seven of his 32 teeth. His remaining teeth were so decayed that they were practically useless.

After a few routine questions, it was clear that Pugh had no dental hygiene — none, Clark said. His daily smoking harms his teeth and gums, while drinking 2 liters of sugary soft drinks a day.

It’s getting worse.

“He told me he hadn’t used a toothbrush in at least 15 years,” Clark said.

Then Pugh, 35, said he hadn’t seen a dentist since he was 7 years old. In addition, his teeth were so decayed that he could only eat soft foods like bread and noodles.

“He couldn’t eat a lot of things that would make him healthier,” Miller said. “He couldn’t even eat lettuce because you have to use your sharper front teeth to tear it apart.”

Over the years, Pugh told the couple that her mouth periodically developed painful abscesses – pockets of pus caused by bacterial infections. He didn’t seek out a doctor or dentist, but instead relied on his natural immune system, Miller said.

Flying from North Carolina last Wednesday, Pugh met Clark and Miller at their office. The three hit it off immediately.

“He shook my hand and told us how grateful and honored he was to be here,” Miller said.

Pugh received an X-ray to see if there was any other damage lurking in his mouth. It was clear what needed to be done.

“We had to pull all of his teeth out,” Miller said, which the couple interpreted on Friday morning from Pugh.

But before that could be done, they created a mold for Pugh so that temporary prosthetics could be produced that allowed him to eat. The mold form was created in the office and was sent to JC Dental Lab in Sharpsville and her temporary dentures were ready on Friday.

After removing her teeth, the temporary dentures popped into her mouth.

Miller gave him a mirror so he could see his spotless teeth. He was so overwhelmed with emotion that he began to sob and dropped the mirror.

“He kept thanking us and saying what it meant to him,” Miller said. “There is no amount of money that means more to me than his reaction.”

The pulling out of the teeth created a wound in his mouth. In Pugh’s case, antibiotics were needed to prevent infection and Miller gave him a prescription.

But there was a problem, the drugs were $40 and Pugh had no money.

Miller paid the bill.

“It was the best $40 I’ve ever spent,” he said.

After the normal procedure, Pugh will return for further dental work in May.

There are a few options here which include creating permanent dentures for Miller, using implanted teeth, or a combination of both.

Typical costs for such extensive dental work are between $30,000 and $40,000. Creating the implants adds cost, but Barstool Sports picks up the entire bill.

Miller is looking into creating dentures for Pugh that are attached to implants in the mouth, allowing the dentures to be removed at night to be cleaned and then put back in place.

As part of the healing, Miller said he would teach Pugh how to take care of his new teeth.

“I want it to be a life-changing experience,” he said.

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