A Dream Smile Becomes Reality

Like so many women, elementary school ESE paraprofessional Stephanie Ludwig for many years placed her personal needs well below those of her son and husband.

FHCN file photo.

Stephanie shows off her bright smile.

“My son had just graduated college. And then my husband bought a Harley. I thought, I work hard; it’s time to do something for me,” Stephanie says with a chuckle.
Stephanie turned to the family’s trusted dentist to fulfill her dreams.
“We’ve relied on Dr. Blank for many, many years. He took care of my son’s dental needs since he was four, when he chipped a tooth. He’s taken care of both of my parents, my mother-in-law, my husband and me.”
Stephen G. Blank, DDS, practices cosmetic and functional dentistry in Port St. Lucie. Considering each patient’s needs and expectations, Dr. Blank chooses his cosmetic dentistry procedures and methods carefully. He takes his time in evaluating both the patient’s dental condition and how the new smile will fit with other facial features.
Affirms Dr. Blank: “Stephanie has been a patient of mine for almost twenty years. She’s always wanted to fix her smile but only recently has been willing and able to make it a priority.
“A beautiful smile is the best accessory and can make a positive difference in a person’s confidence. That’s the underlying assumption driving all of our efforts in the work we do for our patients. We design a plan that corrects any underlying issues so that the stunning smile we create will last.”
Stephanie’s treatment began with the first priority of correcting the large amount of space separating her front teeth.
“Stephanie had several concerns to address,” recalls Dr. Blank. “Her lateral incisors, the small teeth on either side of the front teeth, weren’t large enough to hold her front teeth in the correct position. One had been crowned years before and the crown wasn’t in good shape. And she had some pretty significant discoloration overall.”
She was delighted to learn of a new alternative to traditional braces.
“I had no interest in metal braces like those my son wore as a teenager,” Stephanie declares emphatically.
“Invisalign® is an effective option for patients like Stephanie with crooked or spaced teeth. It works well for patients whose teeth are either spaced too closely together or are spread too far apart,” observes Dr. Blank.

The Invisalign Difference

Invisalign is an almost invisible method of straightening teeth without metal wires, traditional braces, or brackets, and the aligners are removable for eating and dental hygiene.
“Once we determine that a patient is a good candidate for Invisalign, which Stephanie was, the case begins by taking x-rays and impressions of our patient’s teeth. I submit the data, along with a written prescription describing the technical details and types of movements I want to accomplish, to Align Technology, the developer of Invisalign.
“Using 3-D computer technology, they digitize this information, formulating a treatment plan showing the projected movements step-by-step. We work back and forth with the lab technician, looking at the requirements and evaluating the computer analysis.”
As soon as the dentist approves the plan, the Invisalign software determines the number of aligners the patient will need to straighten his or her teeth. A series of customized, clear, plastic aligners are fabricated to achieve that goal.
The aligners are then sent back to the dentist. The patient is given the first set of aligners, which are worn for two weeks. Each aligner moves teeth incrementally, millimeter by millimeter, through a combination of movements, just like traditional metal braces do.
The aligners are very comfortable to wear. When patients first put them on, they feel like there is something tight over all their teeth. But within a short time that dissipates. Patients can often tell which teeth are being moved.
Invisalign provides many advantages, points out Dr. Blank: “They can remove them to eat their meals so there are no food restrictions as there are with traditional braces. Patients can floss their teeth and brush them regularly because there is nothing in the way. The aligners are clear, so they are almost invisible. Patients report that their friends don’t know they are wearing Invisalign aligners.
“For patients whose teeth are very crooked but who want veneers, Invisalign can be used initially to give the patient better alignment so that when we attach the veneers, the cosmetic outcome will be much better.”

Smiling with Pride

Stephanie estimates it only took about nine months to straighten her teeth. “Invisalign was really great, easy to wear and no one could see them,” she recalls. “They corrected the slight overbite I had as well as the spaces.
The next step to creating the smile of her dreams was to remove the discoloration with a professional whitening treatment called Opalescence.
“It’s a tried-and-true product,” explains Dr. Blank. “We’ve used it for a long time with very, very good results. It pulls out the colors that the teeth have absorbed over the years. With Opalescence, the teeth become lighter within about two weeks and remain strong and durable.”
Before and after images courtesy of Stephen G. Blank, DDS.By mid-year, Dr. Blank replaced the old crown on the one incisor and added another all-ceramic crown to the other.
“I look at myself now and think, Wow,” Stephanie reflects happily. “I have perfect strangers coming up to me and complimenting my teeth. Friends who haven’t seen me in a long time tell me how good I look. They say, We can’t figure out what’s different.
“Every step along the way, Dr. Blank was so helpful. You’re not ever rushed and you don’t feel nervous in his care. If I became uncomfortable, he’d just get on the computer and show me what was happening; he’s really one of a kind.
“The girls in the office are fantastic, too, just so positive and supportive at each step. The whole office staff makes you feel like family.
“It really does make you just feel so much better about yourself when your smile is so bright and clean,” says Stephanie.
“Now, I really take pride in my teeth.”

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    • Stephen G. Blank, DDS office

      Stephen G. Blank, DDS, is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago. He has since completed intensive continuing education studies. Dr. Blank has studied temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders under Mark Piper, MD, D... Read More

    • Stephen G. Blank, DDS

      Stephen G. Blank, DDS, is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago. He has since completed intensive continuing education studies. Dr. Blank has studied TMJ under Mark Piper, MD, DMD, at the Piper Education and Resea... Read More