CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) — Time and money keep many from going to the doctor often enough. Jerry Martin went 43 years without going to the dentist. His story can show why real men wear gowns.

He had his reasons.

"I had a lot of stuff to take care of," Martin said. "I had family to take care of. and I just didn't have the money."

He also had his problems. Loose bottom teeth. But even more concerning, he had periodontal disease lurking below his teeth.

Dentist Gary Jones and hygienist Karli Mizer had a lot of work to do.

"Periodontal disease leads to early tooth loss," Mizer said.

But the gum disease can be prevented and managed through regular appointments. Martin is now on four-month appointments, according to Jones.

The intensive follow-up care is after Martin had teeth pulled and bridges ordered.

"I feel ten times better now that they got all those rotten teeth outta there," Martin said.

He feels better because his infection is under control, Jones said.

It wasn't under control, the disease could have far-reaching consequences in the body, including heart problems and diabetes complications.

"I was surprised that my teeth could cause me that much problems," Martin said.

The affordable care at the Conway Interfaith Dental Clinic allows Martin to take better care of himself.

"Healthy smiles promote healthy lifestyles," Jones said.