Cold Turkey

Implant-retained overdentures replace broken, failing teeth.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Edgar Kiley

As its director of asset management, Edgar Kiley oversees the programs, maintenance and modernization of public housing units for a local public housing authority. The New Jersey native has been living and working in Florida for 13 years and doing that job for seven. While Edgar enjoys living in Florida, there are times he really misses New Jersey.

“I actually miss the wintertime every once in a while,” Edgar confesses. “I love winter: the cold, the snow, everything. I just like that time of year. It’s my favorite, actually. If the temperature never got above sixty degrees, I’d be really happy. I’m kind of unique in that way. But Florida is nice, too.

“I moved here while I was married to my previous wife. We wound up getting divorced, but I stayed here because I like it so much. I went scuba diving on Christmas once and sent pictures back to my family in New Jersey saying, It’s Christmas and I’m scuba diving. Enjoy the cold weather.”

Prior to beginning his current job, Edgar spent most of his career in construction. Workers in construction rarely take time off for health concerns because they don’t get paid if they don’t work and typically don’t receive health benefits. Edgar didn’t see a dentist routinely for those very reasons. Eventually, the neglect caught up with him, and one by one, his teeth began to fail.

“When a tooth would go bad, I’d just pull it, which caused my other teeth to move and then they’d go bad,” he describes. “For a while, I was still able to eat normally, but then I mostly had to eat on my right side.

“Then I lost a couple of teeth on that side, and I started chewing on my left side. Eventually, the teeth on that side went bad as well, and pretty soon, I ran out of sides to keep jumping back and forth to.”

Edgar’s wife watched him struggle with his failing teeth. While he was on the brink of losing yet another tooth, she took the advice of a coworker and recommended Edgar visit Alfons Bucaj, DMD, at Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach.

“Dr. Bucaj gave me several options,” Edgar states. “He said he could remove the one tooth that was going bad and continue to take care of each tooth as it failed. Another option was to use standard partial dentures.

“Finally, he said he could pull out all my teeth, put in dental implants and give me a full set of replacement teeth that just snapped into place. He left it up to me, so I told him to take out all of my teeth, put in the implants and give me a full set of new teeth.”

Hybrid Flexibility

Dental implants are screw-like posts that are surgically implanted into the jawbone and serve as the foundation for replacement teeth. Over time, the implants fuse with the jawbone to become one solid unit that has great strength and stability.

One of the benefits of implant-retained dentures is that the implants are made of titanium, which means they will not decay the way natural teeth do and will never require endodontic treatment, or root canals.

“Dr. Bucaj is different than all the other dentists I’ve gone to in my lifetime. He talks to me as an equal, a peer.”– Edgar

“Implants also have a decades-long survival rate,” Dr. Bucaj notes. “In ninety-nine percent of cases, they last for a lifetime supported in the jaw. The forces of the bite are much better as well. Implant-retained dentures increase chewing ability by nine times compared to conventional dentures. That can make a big difference in quality of life.”

Dentists can reconstruct an arch with a prosthesis that is fixed and never comes out or a traditional denture that is taken out nightly for cleaning. A removable, implant-retained overdenture is an intermediate option for restoring an upper or lower arch that Dr. Bucaj recommended for Edgar.

“The removable overdenture is a hybrid,” Dr. Bucaj explains. “It’s partially fixed because of the implants and partially removable. It provides the flexibility of coming out for cleaning, but the security of staying in place during eating and speaking.”

Implant-retained overdentures can be secured with as few as two implants, though some patients require more. The number of implants used depends on the denture and the aim of the end result.

“Edgar wanted minimal intervention that would give him dentures that were removable, but would stay in place when he spoke and ate,” Dr. Bucaj informs. “In his case, I used two implants on each arch, which is a minimal amount, but gives maximum results.”

Complete Trust

“Getting implants is a pretty impressive process,” Edgar says. “I understood exactly what Dr. Bucaj did with the implants in my jaw because I’ve done the same thing in construction. I’ve put anchors in concrete, which is basically the same physics, same engineering. It’s pretty amazing.”

Once they are placed, dental implants typically need between three and six months to fuse with the jawbone. During that period, patients receiving an overdenture usually wear a temporary denture. Edgar is currently in that phase of the process.

“The temporary dentures I have now slip in over my gums,” Edgar describes. “I glue them in with a little adhesive, wear them all day, then take them out at night and throw them in a cup to clean them.

“Wearing them, I learned I can’t chew on only one side. I have to chew on both sides to keep the dentures balanced. But other than that, they’re good. I can eat anything, including steak. I can actually eat better with my temporary dentures than I could before I had my teeth pulled and the work started. It’s just a lot easier now.”

The permanent overdenture will make the job of eating even easier for Edgar, who says he has developed complete trust in Dr. Bucaj and his staff.

“Dr. Bucaj is different than all the other dentists I’ve gone to in my lifetime,” he shares. “He talks to me as an equal, a peer. While he doesn’t talk down to me, he explains everything I don’t understand. What a pleasant, wonderful man.

“Dr. Bucaj’s entire staff is wonderful. They’re really nice to talk to, and they set me at ease. Going to Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach is like going to visit friends and family more so than going to a dentist. It is a very nice experience.”


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    • Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach

      Dentist Al Bucaj, DMD, in Vero Beach, Florida practices a full scope of general and cosmetic dentistry with expertise ranging from porcelain veneers to dental implants, crowns and bridges. Dr. Bucaj can now correct a wide variety of what were... Read More

    • Alfons Bucaj, DMD

      Alfons Bucaj, DMD, is a diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and the American Board of Oral Implantology. He is also an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Dr. Bucaj graduated from Nova So... Read More