Chopper Rescue

Advanced technology, personalized care restore helicopter pilot’s smile.

Former U.S. Navy air crewman Todd Whaley spends his workdays in the Florida skies, running medevac missions and fighting wildland fires as a helicopter pilot for Flagler County. For the longest time he ran those missions while fighting a four-alarm battle of his own.

Todd Whaley has had a lot of issues with his teeth, but Dr. Patel finally gave him the smile he’s always wanted.

Todd Whaley

It’s a battle that started 32 years ago when Todd, then 14, tried driving a three-wheel ATV vehicle up a steep hill in North Carolina. When the hill proved too steep for the climb, the ATV fell back on top of Todd, hitting him in the mouth and breaking several teeth.

“I’ve been through hell with this mouth ever since,” Todd relates. “I wound up needing to have about seven or eight root canals done as a result of that one ATV accident alone. Then, after I got into the Navy, I knocked one of my front teeth loose again.

“It was a weird situation. I was spearfishing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and when I shot my spear gun, it ricocheted back and hit me in the mouth, knocking a tooth loose. I wound up getting a bridge for the front, but then the teeth in the back started getting loose.”

The loose teeth in the back were in part a result of gum disease, which Todd was treated for in 2001. About 15 years later, another tooth near the front became loose. Todd was never pleased with the dentist he chose to correct that problem.

“From the very start they were saying they wanted to refer me to a specialist, and so I never had a good feeling about them,” Todd says. “I remember sitting in their waiting room one day, feeling very unsure about them, and seeing this newspaper on the table.

“It was Volusia Health Care News, and there was an article in there about a dentist who was literally right across the street from where I was. I went outside, called them up and told them what my problem was. They told me to come right over.”

The dentist Todd read about was Rajiv Patel, BDS, a board-certified implantologist who 30 years ago founded DeLand Implant Dentistry with a vow to deliver advanced, personalized and comprehensive care in a comfortable, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Upon first examining Todd, Dr. Patel realized immediately why his competitor was leaning toward sending Todd to a specialist for his dental care. The amount of gum disease and damage the doctor discovered was severe.

“Todd came in with what we call terminal dentition, which means the condition of his teeth is hopeless,” Dr. Patel educates. “He had severe periodontal disease. Many of his teeth that showed extensive signs of decay, were either breaking, broken or had cavities.

“There was no option for trying to save those teeth, so I gave Todd all the options available to him, everything from not doing anything to the most advanced treatment we have today, which is an implant-supported fixed restoration.”

A Permanent Fix

Todd wasn’t surprised to hear Dr. Patel’s evaluation. It was consistent with what he’d heard from the other dentist he visited, except that Dr. Patel went a step further and explained how the existing issues had the potential to cause more problems later.

“He told me my jaw bone was starting to deteriorate because of the all the problems I had,” Todd reveals. “He said those problems were preventing the bone from healing itself, which is why he recommended removing all my teeth and going with a fixed denture.”

Todd agreed with Dr. Patel’s course of action, but his immediate concern was the loose tooth near the front of his mouth. The fact he was heading out of town two days later for a continuing education course made that issue a priority.

“I explained to him that I was leaving town, and so after we did the impressions for the new teeth, Dr. Patel made me a temporary device that filled the gap that was left when he pulled the loose tooth,” Todd explains.

“What was great was that I didn’t even have to ask him to do that. He just did it on his own. I knew right then and there he was the right dentist for me, because I was really worried about being out in public without a front tooth, and he took care of that.”

Todd and Dr. Patel met again a couple weeks later to firm up their restoration plan, which began with Dr. Patel removing all of Todd’s natural teeth, treating his gum disease and performing a bone graft on his jaw bones that would allow them to support implants.

It takes up to six months for the mouth to heal and the grafting process to be completed. During that time, Todd wore a temporary denture on both his upper and lower jaw. Once his jawbone had healed properly, Todd was fit for implants.

Better Than Ever

During one visit, Dr. Patel placed six implants each in Todd’s upper and lower jaw. After waiting another four months for the implants to fuse, Dr. Patel fit Todd for his fixed upper crown/bridges. A month later, he fit him for the fixed lower crown/bridges.

Todd Whaley has had a lot of issues with his teeth, but Dr. Patel finally gave him the smile he’s always wanted.

Todd Whaley Before & After

“Todd’s case actually lasted about two years,” Dr. Patel reports. “But the advantage of going with the implant-supported fixed dentures is that the implants will transform the forces of the jawbone and actually help maintain the jawbone for a longer period of time.

“So he has a fixed set of teeth now, not something that he takes in and out of his mouth. The fixed crowns/teeth he has look and function just like natural teeth and are working extremely well for him.”

After years of fighting virtually every conceivable battle with his teeth and gums, Todd says his mouth has never looked and felt as good as it does now and that never before has he smiled with the confidence he does now.

“I truly could not be happier with the end result,” Todd confirms. “Making that call to Dr. Patel was one of the best things I’ve ever done. The work he’s done has been nothing short of amazing. I’d recommend him to anybody.”

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    • Deland Implant Dentistry

      Rajiv Patel BDS, MDS, has practiced general dentistry in Deland, Florida for more than 26 years. He strives to deliver the most advanced, personalized, comprehensive and professional dental care to his patients while building relationships b... Read More

    • Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS

      Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS, has practiced general dentistry in DeLand for more than 25 years. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry, and Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. With hundreds of h... Read More

    • Darshan Patel, DMD

      Darshan Patel, DMD, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He is currently pursuing a fellowship with the American Academy of Impla... Read More