Heather Foust buried her face in her five-year-old daughter’s braided hair after hearing her name called in a crowded room Wednesday.

She had won a life-changing dental procedure.

A room full of people congratulated Foust, of Eddy, who held tight to her daughter, Andie Wayman. Without a dry eye in the room, Foust learned she will receive a complimentary full-arch replacement procedure from Waco-based Brazos Oral & Facial Surgery. More than 500 people applied for the opportunity that 30-year-old Foust secured.

The procedure, which will replace all her teeth with a new set, costs about $50,000 on average.

“It means everything,” Foust said, slowly absorbing what had just happened.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Scott Warren, a Waco native and owner of Brazos Oral & Facial Surgery, said when the business decided to launch the Second Chance program in McLennan County, the employees wanted to give back to the community. Warren said it was extremely difficult to narrow down the applicants and then select just one person.

“When we met with Heather this week and we got to hear her story, hearing about her plans to get married next year and her desire to be able to smile and laugh again with her beautiful little girls, it was so touching,” Warren said. “We really hope to make her dream of smiling at her husband and her family as she walks down the aisle a reality.”

Warren said he will place dental implants in her top and bottom jaw then attach a full set of teeth.

“The beautiful part about this is she never has to wear dentures. She never has to wear anything removable,” he said.

“I tell people, ‘They’re your teeth. They are just connected to dental implants.’ Being able to give them their teeth back, to someone who has struggled for a while, it’s really rewarding for me. When we set out to do it, we had no idea how many people would apply, and as it started, I think within the first two-to-three days, we had 200 some people. You start reading through [the applications], there’s so much need, and the stories, it was kind of heartbreaking actually to see it.”

In Foust’s application, she wrote she hoped to eliminate the constant pain she has endured from infected, decaying and broken teeth.

But also, to eliminate the embarrassment she faced daily.

Foust, a mother of three girls under age 12, wrote that the condition of her teeth has left her feeling reclusive and sad.

For someone as friendly and caring as Foust, she doesn’t deserve to feel that way, said Amy Hopkins, Foust’s soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Hopkins said Foust has worked hard her whole life while taking excellent care of her children and is more than deserving of something special for herself.

“I was really hoping she could get it because I didn’t get my teeth until this last year and I know how miserable I’ve been for 49 of my 50 years wanting some decent teeth,” Hopkins said. “I know exactly what she’s going through and I’m just thrilled that she won. She works really hard and she takes good care of my grandkids and she’s a good girl. She deserves it.”

Warren said this is the first of what he hopes will become an annual event.

Carmen Eddins, Foust’s sister-in-law, said she was thrilled at the announcement. Eddins said Foust is an amazing mom and person and she is thankful her sister-in-law will be able to finally smile freely.

“She’s just incredible. I’m just excited for her,” Eddins said.

Foust, a contract labor janitor, said she knew her fiancé would be thrilled to learn the news, not because he was embarrassed by her teeth, but because he knows how much she wanted this.

“I can smile at my husband when we get married and I can smile and laugh with my kids and not have to worry about it,” Foust said.

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