Creating Lasting Smiles

Years of grinding left Francis Somers with cracked teeth and a worn smile.
“My front teeth were starting to crack a bit,” Francis describes. “You could see a fine line in both of them. I never knew how much damage I was doing over the years. My bottom teeth were really worn down to the point where I had difficulty chewing my food, and I hated my smile.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Fran is happy with her natural looking smile!

Francis and her husband of 52 years, Roger, are snowbirds from New Jersey. When Francis finally decided to find a dentist to rejuvenate her smile, she chose one in Port St. Lucie.
“We have a lot of friends here in Port St. Lucie,” Francis shares. “We probably spend more of our time in Florida, so it was the logical choice to find a dentist here. We asked around and were referred to Dr. Blank.”

Examining the Problem

During her initial appointment, Stephen Blank, DDS, conducted a thorough examination of Francis to determine her dental needs and develop a custom treatment plan.
The complete oral examination takes about an hour and a half and includes TMJ, bite and soft-tissue evaluations; computerized periodontal measurements, digital x-rays, an intra-oral video tour that allows the patient to see what the dentist sees, an oral hygiene evaluation and more.
“It was a very thorough exam,” Francis confirms. “I had a one-on-one meeting with Dr. Blank. He discussed my x-rays, talked about what I was facing and presented all of the different options. He made me feel at ease and comfortable. He wanted me to be sure about the decision I was about to make. He never pressured me to do any work on my teeth that he did not feel was necessary.”
“Francis is what I call a habitual grinder,” Dr. Blank explains. “She had been wearing a night guard for over a decade, and while that did help her, she had already sustained a lot of damage prior to wearing that. The guard prevented further damage.”
Francis says because she wears a night guard, she did not realize the damage to her teeth was still a direct result of grinding and clenching.
“I never put the pieces of the puzzle together and realized the grinding was doing the damage,” Francis says.
To restore her smile, Dr. Blank’s evaluation led him to recommend crowns along her front six teeth.

Crown of Glory

During Francis’ diagnostic visit for the crowns, Dr. Blank designed the size, shape, color and position of the restorations. Models of her teeth and photographs of her mouth were taken and sent to the lab to have a model created.
“With Francis, we did what we call a smile design visit where we take measurements of the teeth and follow that with a full series of photographs. We then did a mock-up of the teeth with some temporary resin so we could guide the lab to create the results that we wanted.
“From that smile design visit, we order a wax-up of the teeth that fulfilled Francis’ cosmetic need. That way, Frances was able to see how her teeth would look in the end.”
Francis says she wasn’t looking for a glamorous, Hollywood look, but rather something more natural.
“I didn’t want the stark white look at all,” she says. “He knew exactly what I meant, and he got the color right where I wanted it.”
On her next visit, her teeth were prepared for the placement of the new crowns. Impressions were made for the lab, and temporaries that match the wax model were created.
Following that second visit, Francis left Dr. Blank’s office with resin temporaries. This allowed her to test drive her new smile.
“The temporaries give patients the opportunity to see how their new smile will look,” educates Dr. Blank. “At the temporary stage, changes can be made, such as adding a bit of length or a little curvature or a slight reduction. We give the lab instructions on coloring, translucency and brightness.”
Dr. Blank assures that today’s products provide durability and longevity, with great aesthetics for a natural smile.
“Dental aesthetics have come a long way over the years,” Dr. Blank says. “Today’s crowns are made of all-ceramic porcelain materials, so ten years from now, Frances will not see a dark area above the top of the crown, which often occurs with older crowns that were porcelain fused to metal. Today, products are created for longevity and present a much more natural look than ever before.”
Before image courtesy of Stephen Blank, DDSDr. Blank says in addition to looking more pleasing, Francis’ new smile is also more functional.
“Before the crowns, Francis had a difficult time breaking down her food when she chewed, and that was because of the wear and tear on her teeth, which caused her bite to be improperly aligned,” Dr. Blank confirms. “Now, she not only tastes food, she feels the actual texture, too.”
Francis says she is thrilled with how well the crowns look and amazed at how much her function has improved.
“I can chew my food with ease now and not worry about my teeth cracking even worse,” she says.

Putting Patients First

Dr. Blank believes his success as a dentist relies on the relationships he builds with his patients.
Practicing in Port St. Lucie for more than 32 years, Dr. Blank stresses the importance of delivering customized, personable care.
“I want people to understand all of their options and be educated before making any decisions,” he emphasizes. “Every patient is different, and not every option is going to fit well with every person. I do my best to understand a person’s long-term wants and needs.”
Francis is impressed with Dr. Blank and his entire staff.
“Dr. Blank is very knowledgeable and patient,” Francis confirms. “He tells you everything he is doing every step of the way and never holds anything back. I appreciate that level of honesty.”
“I’m honest because I know that is what people want in a dentist,” Dr. Blank says. “Honesty and integrity, both of which I strive to bring to the table.”
Francis says her future goal is to have her bottom teeth crowned as well.
“I’m glad I decided to start my treatment with the top teeth because not only do they look better, my bite feels better,” she adds. “Dr. Blank is fantastic, and I am more than happy with my smile now! He is more than a dentist; he’s a friend!”

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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