By Megan McCluskey
March 28, 2018

A Vietnam veteran who was toothless for around 40 years has received a new set of teeth for free from the dentist who founded Teeth Tomorrow.

After Lawrence “Smiley” Kleiman was left without most of his teeth due to a calcium deficiency, the two-tour Air Force sergeant was gifted with $60,000 worth of permanent implant bridges by Dr. Michael Tischler and his team.

“Here’s a man who gave service to our country,” Tischler said. “How do you say enough to vets that have given their lives for us, for our freedom? So it feels really good for all of us to be able to do this for him.”

Smiley, for his part, was just looking forward to finally living up to his nickname. “I’d like to get my smile back. And it’s been many years since I’ve smiled without teeth,” he said leading up to the procedure. “It was just one of those things that I had two certain ways of smiling…You know I had a good side and a bad side. You don’t want to get on that one side.”

Watch a video of Smiley’s journey above.

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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