A Deeper Dental Dive

Comprehensive oral exam reveals need for more than routine cleaning.

Though his 65th birthday is now in his rearview mirror, Steven Finkelstein has no plans to retire. Newly armed with a license to ply his craft here in Florida, the longtime painting contractor currently has his sights set on further beautifying Palm Beach County.

Now entering his 45th year as a commercial painter, Steven’s plans to dress up the homes in and around West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton come in the wake of a decision he recently made to dress up something of his own.

Steven Finkelstein went to Dr. Fatmi for a routine cleaning. He soon learned that he needed a lot more than just a little routine dental work.

Steven Finkelstein

“I made the decision this past spring while preparing for a summertime vacation to Honduras,” Steven says. “I thought it was a good time to improve my appearance a little bit because I felt like my teeth were looking a little dirty and needed a cleaning.

“I moved to Florida from New Jersey a few months earlier and didn’t have a regular dentist at the time. So, I did a Google search for dentists in the area.” The dentist Steven found was Naved Fatmi, DMD, of Regency Court Dentistry, which has its office in Boca Raton. During his initial visit to the practice, Steven learned that he needed a lot more than just a routine cleaning.

“I hadn’t been to a dentist in quite a few years, so it’s good that I went when I did because my mouth was in pretty bad shape,” Steven confirms. “The x-rays revealed a lot of bone loss, and once that happens, you start losing your teeth.”

The bone loss wasn’t the only problem Dr. Fatmi discovered. In addition to some decaying teeth, he also found that Steven’s lower front teeth were already failing and needed to be extracted. Finally, Steven was suffering from a bad case of periodontal disease.

Examination Essentials

The results of that initial exam, Dr. Fatmi says, are why he always seeks to give new patients a comprehensive oral examination, even if the patient is only visiting to get a routine cleaning, the way Steven was.

“In Steven’s case, for example, we found bone loss, and when you find bone loss, it can sometimes be part of a systemic issue,” Dr. Fatmi says. “Likewise, if someone has bleeding in the mouth, it may be an indication they are bleeding in other parts of the body.

“It can sometimes be the same with plaque. If plaque worsens in the mouth, it can get into the bloodstream, and cardiovascular surgeons will tell you that the plaque we have in our mouth is the same plaque they find in someone’s arteries.

“The reason for all this is that the mouth is not disconnected from the rest of our body. It’s a full system piece, and sometimes, serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke and chronic controlled diabetes can be discovered in an unhealthy mouth.

“In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry says that more than ninety percent of all systemic diseases, including HIV-AIDS and diabetes, produce oral signs and symptoms. That’s why it’s very important to conduct that thorough examination.”

Steven was stunned to hear of all the problems his exam revealed. He says the only diagnosis he was expecting was the periodontal disease, which he suspected because he had long experienced bleeding gums when brushing his teeth.

“But even that’s not normal,” Dr. Fatmi educates. “A lot of people think it’s normal for their gums to bleed when they brush their teeth, but it’s not. So that was the first thing we had to address with Steven.”

Road to Recovery

To rid Steven of his periodontal disease, which can cause the gums to recede from the teeth, Dr. Fatmi performed a deep cleaning in which the build-up of plaque and tarter on both the surface of the tooth and the roots is chipped away and the gums are cleansed with antibiotics.

Once Steven’s gums began to heal, Dr. Fatmi turned to the issue of the failing lower front teeth. With an eye toward eventually fitting him with an implant-supported fixed bridge, Dr. Fatmi started by pulling four of Steven’s lower front teeth.

During the same visit, Dr. Fatmi addressed the issue of Steven’s bone loss by performing a bone graft. Special grafting material, designed to enhance new bone growth, is placed in the jawbone where the implants will go.

Implants are screw-like posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone to serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, bridges or dentures. When secured by implants, bridges and dentures stay in place when patients speak and eat.

“The reason we do the bone grafting is because the implant has to have something to attach to,” Dr. Fatmi reasons. “It’s like a nail in a wall. If there’s no stud behind that wall, there’s nothing to fully support the nail. There has to be something solid to support it.”

In cases such as Steven’s, it typically takes between four and six months for the jaw bone to heal to a point where it’s strong enough to support implants. During the healing period, patients usually wear temporary, or removable, dentures
or bridges.

Steven first went to see Dr. Fatmi in August of 2018. He expects to be fitted with his implants in March. He says he’s looking forward to having a fixed bridge that doesn’t have to be removed and looks and performs like his natural teeth.

“I don’t want something that I have to take out at night,” he says. “I want something that’s more like the real thing, and I know
Dr. Fatmi will do a good job with that because he’s already done a great job with everything else.

“The work he did on my gums was fantastic. My gums no longer bleed when I brush my teeth, and he’s already repaired a few other teeth with fillings and crowns. At this point, I’m just waiting for the bone graft to heal and then we’ll move on to the implants.”

Steven says he’s developed a far greater appreciation for dentists since he met Dr. Fatmi. He says he’s constantly impressed not only by the work Dr. Fatmi does, but by his staff and the genuine level of care they have for their patients.

“Dr. Fatmi is very personable and gentle, and his staff is the same way,” Steven says. “His office is as modern as can be. Compared to what I dealt with in New Jersey, the difference is like night and day. It’s an amazing office, and it’s actually a pleasure to go there.”

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    • Regency Court Dentistry

      Regency Court Dentistry understands the importance of maintaining the health of your smile. This is why they offer a number of comprehensive general health and restorative dentistry services. From regularly scheduled teeth cleanings and den... Read More

    • Naved Fatmi, DMD

      Naved Fatmi, DMD, received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville. Dr. Fatmi is an adjunct professor at Palm Beach State College. He is a member of the American Dental Society, t... Read More