A Stable Foundation

Implant-secured dentures improve confidence, functionality.

Since he was a child, Nick Hoot, 79, had a serious problem with the enamel on his teeth. That led to the formation of cavities and eventually to tooth loss. The retired insurance agent and minister was a frequent visitor to the dentist’s chair from the time he was about ten years old. He had his share of dental procedures and appliances.   

Photo by Fred Bellet

Nick Hoot

“I’ve always had really bad enamel,” Nick confirms. “I kept losing my teeth, so I started wearing partials and bridges while I was still young. Then, at twenty-five, I decided enough was enough, and I had full dentures put in, upper and lower. Over the years, I’ve had several sets of dentures made.

“My wife and I are snowbirds from Indiana, and last March, while we were in Florida, I broke my lower denture in half when I bit down on a piece of cucumber. I didn’t want to be without dentures, so I looked around for an emergency dentist. I discovered Venetian Dental, which advertised twenty-four-hour emergency service. I remember thinking, This Dr. Gaukhman may be the only dentist in the nation that does that.”

Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, of Venetian Dental is a skilled and experienced dentist who offers exceptional and affordable general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry at his offices in Venice, Sarasota and Osprey. As Nick soon discovered, he also provides quick, quality emergency dental care.

Nick contacted Venetian Dental the evening of his mishap, which was a Saturday, and spoke with a dental assistant who agreed to meet him at the office immediately. The dental assistant warned Nick that gluing his denture together wouldn’t hold, but Nick insisted on the repair. The denture broke again the next morning as Nick chewed his breakfast cereal.

“On Monday, I called Venetian Dental and went in for an appointment,” Nick recalls.
“Dr. Gaukhman took x-rays and performed an examination. He said, Nick, you’re no longer a candidate for lower dentures. I said, What! I’ve got to have teeth.

“My new dentures look wonderful to me. My wife agrees, and she’s my greatest critic. People can’t tell that I have dentures.” – Nick“He explained that because I’d been wearing dentures for so long, I had worn down my lower gums, and there were two nerves that were within millimeters of being exposed. He told me if those nerves became exposed, there’d be no limit to the pain I’d be in. I said, What can I do? He suggested a lower denture retained by four dental implants.”

Implants are screw-like posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone to serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, such as crowns and dentures. They are considered the most effective way to secure dentures because when secured by implants, dentures do not slip or move; they stay in place when patients speak and eat.

Not Uncommon

Nick’s situation was not unique. Many people with lower dentures have difficulties keeping them secure. This is because there is no palate in the bottom jaw due to the location of the tongue; therefore, less suction is produced. As a result, lower dentures tend to slip and slide.

In most cases, upper dentures fit securely because the palate enables the creation of sufficient suction to hold the appliance in place. That was the case with Nick, whose upper denture fits just fine and does not wobble or move. The problems with his lower denture, however, spread beyond its lack of stability.

“Adding to Nick’s lower denture problem was the fact that he didn’t have enough bone in his lower jaw to support a denture, which is a very common occurrence,” Dr. Gaukhman reports. “However, he did have just enough bone to place dental implants. Had he waited a couple more years, we wouldn’t have been able to place implants without a bone graft.”

Implants are made of a titanium alloy that fuses with the patient’s bone to become a solid unit. For most patients at Venetian Dental, implants are placed on the day of tooth extraction. The dentures are also created at that time. Nick was an exception because he had no teeth to extract.

“In general, once the patient’s problem is diagnosed and the treatment is determined, I take impressions,” Dr. Gaukhman explains. “When the dentures are ready, which is usually on the same day or the next day, I extract the teeth and put the dentures in right away.

Photo by Fred Bellet

Nick received emergency care from Dr. Gaukhman at Venetian Dental.

“The dentures act as a bandage to stop bleeding and limit swelling, and for the next three to six months, I keep the patients in temporary dentures until the implants fuse and the gums heal. Then, I replace the temporary dentures with the permanent appliances.”

Dr. Gaukhman began that process with Nick last April, placing four implants, two of which were capped with abutments to secure the temporary denture. In October, Dr. Gaukhman placed abutments on the two remaining implants and fit Nick with his permanent denture. In January, Nick returned for some final tweaks to ensure the denture fit perfectly.

Overcoming Anxieties

Retired insurance agent Joel Lustgarten is a native of New York City. While in college at the University of Miami, he met his wife. He’s been in Florida ever since. While living in Sarasota a few years ago, Joel decided his long-term dental issues needed to be resolved. There was just one problem: At the time, he didn’t like dentists.

“I’m seventy-one years old, but I’m a big baby, particularly with dentists,” Joel admits. “But I needed a lot of work done because, when I was a kid, my dentist was my stepfather’s brother, and he put a lot of crowns in my mouth.

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

Dr. Gaukhman and his kind staff helped Joel overcome his fear of dentists.

“That was about fifty-five years ago and, of course, nothing lasts forever. Well, a few years ago, the crowns started breaking off. I also broke one tooth and had an abscess in another.

“I didn’t have pain so much, but I had trouble chewing. It was hard to eat steak and roast beef. Not that I didn’t eat them, but it was difficult, so I decided I had to take care of these problems.”

Joel knew he required quite a bit of dental work to restore his teeth and smile. Because he was not a fan of dentists, he sought one who was experienced with fearful patients. A friend recommended Dr. Gaukhman.

“I started going to Dr. Gaukhman in 2016,” Joel relates. “He is the kind of dentist I was looking for, because he helped settle my fears. As part of his personality, he doesn’t make a big deal over anything. He’s calm and says, Don’t worry. We’re going to take care of this and make sure you’re happy.”

During his consultation appointment with Dr. Gaukhman, Joel told the dentist to start work on his upper teeth because they were worse than his bottom teeth. After discussing options, the dentist recommended a denture that is measured, created and fit in a single appointment.

“Dr. Gaukhman gave me alternatives, including a removable bridge or dental implants,” Joel remembers. “After hearing about implants, I decided to make the commitment and go with them.”

Palate Pleasers

“Joel’s main concern when he first came to the office was with his upper teeth,” verifies Dr. Gaukhman. “They were in poor condition and failing, and there was infection in some of them. They weren’t worth saving.

“I suggested removing all of his upper teeth and placing a denture. When he agreed, I immediately took an impression of his teeth to shape the denture. We did the extractions and placed the denture immediately.

“We were able to save many of Joel’s lower teeth, so I made a bridge for his bottom jaw. We decided to put a few implants on the bottom to make that bridge more secure.”

After hearing about their benefits, Joel opted for the stabilizing dental implants. While upper dentures generally don’t require implants to remain stable, they do have a few shortcomings that can be rectified by securing them with dental implants.

“One issue with traditional dentures is a decrease in taste,” Dr. Gaukhman notes. “The tongue is mainly responsible for discerning taste, but the palate also plays a role. When a traditional denture is made for the upper jaw, it covers the palate, which can deprive patients of sensing the full complement of tastes.“[Dr. Gaukhman] is the kind of dentist I was looking for, because he helped settle my fears.” – Joel

“Another issue that can occur with traditional dentures is a gag reflex. Some patients experience this due to the denture being over the palate. An implant-retained upper denture is shaped like a horseshoe instead of fully covering the palate. It frees up the taste buds and eliminates the gag reflex.

“Joel’s initial denture was a traditional denture, then he decided he wanted a higher quality of life. He didn’t want the denture to cover his palate, so we placed four implants in his upper jaw. That gave us leeway to make a new denture without a palate.”

Traveling Trust

When Joel’s friend recommended Dr. Gaukhman, he had no idea what a great find it would turn out to be. Joel’s grateful for the patience and care the dentist and his staff take with him and how they help him through his treatment despite his anxiety.

“From the beginning, I thought Dr. Gaukhman was a really nice guy,” he comments. “Another thing I like about his office is they use a team approach to their patients. The staff is excellent and obviously trained by Dr. Gaukhman. Going there is a nice experience. I rate it between very good and excellent.”

Joel says he’s happy with the work Dr. Gaukhman has done for him. He likes his upper denture and feels much more confident when he smiles.

“I’ve gotten compliments on it,” he enthuses. “I don’t want anyone to know what I had done, but when I get compliments, I know Dr. Gaukhman did a good job. I’m very, very pleased. I can also eat steak and roast beef now without difficulty. I really have no limitations on what I can eat.”

Last June, Joel moved from Sarasota to Singer Island in Palm Beach County. Few things take him away from his life on the beach, but one of them is his dentist. Joel is so pleased with Dr. Gaukhman that he kept him as his dental provider even after relocating.

“Now, I get in my car and drive back to Sarasota to see Dr. Gaukhman,” he shares. “For my last appointment, I left Palm Beach at 4:30 in the morning and got to his office for my 9:00 appointment right on time.

“Not only do I recommend him, I’m also willing to travel back and forth five hundred miles just to see Dr. Gaukhman at Venetian Dental.”

Denture Delight

For years, Nick lived with lower dentures that didn’t stay secure in his mouth. They slipped and slid and wore down his lower gums, nearly exposing sensitive nerves. It was obvious to anybody who looked at him that he was wearing dentures. He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

Stock photo from kisspng.“My new dentures look wonderful to me,” he raves. “My wife agrees, and she’s my greatest critic. People can’t tell that I have dentures. They’re wonderful.”

Like Joel, Nick is not limited in the foods he can eat with his implant-retained lower denture. The dental implants hold his lower denture securely, which improves his biting and chewing functions.

“I can eat anything I want,” Nick says. “I can eat steaks. I can chew them just fine. I probably shouldn’t, but I like crunching up hard candy. I can do that with my new denture. I can eat corn on the cob with no problem. Now, I can chew most anything you put in front of me, so I’m a very happy camper.”

Nick is absolutely delighted with his new dentures, and he’s extremely pleased with Dr. Gaukhman, his staff and everything about Venetian Dental.

“The facilities at Venetian Dental are wonderful, but even more so are the people who work there,” Nick attests. “They’re among the most talented, considerate and kind people I’ve ever run into. And since I’ve been involved with partials and bridges since I was young, I know what I’m talking about when I talk about dental people.

“Everyone at Venetian Dental is exceptional, from Dr. Gaukhman on down the line. My treatment was very successful. I absolutely recommend Dr. Gaukhman and his staff at Venetian Dental. In my mind’s eye, they’re superior.”

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    • Venetian Dental

      Venetian Dental is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile. Their state-of-the art dental offices offer the latest in dental technology and patient amenities. They provide comprehensive treatment planning, and use r... Read More

    • Alexander Gaukhman, DMD

      Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, earned his dental degree at Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry, Ft. Lauderdale. He completed his undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Dr. Gaukhman is a diplomate of the Inter... Read More