Dental Duo

A tale of two approaches to restoring smiles.

Photos by Jordan Pysz.

Robin is thrilled with Dr. Lester’s work.

Robin Black’s 15 minutes of fame came when she was offered a position on then Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy’s personal staff as he prepared to run for President of the United States.

“My uncle was a Capitol Hill photographer, and I often went with him to big dinners and luncheons to write down the order of the politicians and celebrities in the photos and to gather any other information he needed,” Robin recounts. “It was my uncle who found out that JFK was looking for a secretary, and he told me.

“I went to the Senate Office Building and was interviewed on four occasions. They wanted me to be his private secretary. He was getting ready to run for president, and his current secretary couldn’t handle all that went with that. They wanted me to work with her and ultimately replace her, but I turned them down.

“Almost being JFK’s secretary is my claim to fame.”

For most of her adult life, Robin, 86, a North Carolina native, resided in the Washington, DC–Maryland area. But her family owned a business in Florida, so for years, she regularly visited the Sunshine State. Then in 2001, she made Florida her permanent home. After she relocated, she transitioned her health care to Florida providers, except for her dental care.

“As a youngster and into my thirties, I had horrible dental experiences, so I was traumatized when it came to going to the dentist,” Robin shares. “In Silver Springs, Maryland, I finally found a wonderful dentist who took away all my fears and apprehensions.

“When I moved to Florida, I changed over all my doctors, but I continued to go up to Maryland a couple times a year to see that dentist. Then a few years ago, going there became more difficult due to scheduling conflicts and getting older. I knew I needed to find a local dentist. I thought it was going to be an impossible task to find a substitute for my exceptional Maryland dentist.”

One day, Robin’s partner heard about the teeth whitening service offered by Stephen P. Lester, DDS, at Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater. He said, “I’ve always wanted to have that done. I’m going to try this dentist.” Robin’s partner had an outstanding experience at Park Avenue Dentistry and encouraged Robin to visit Dr. Lester as well, which she did.

“No one’s ever recommended their dentist to me, but I recommend Dr. Lester, and now, seven or eight of my closest friends go to him as well.” – Robin

“Right away, I was impressed,” Robin recalls. “And after two appointments, I realized that the impossible had become possible. Dr. Lester was wonderful to me. He allayed all the apprehensions I had and made me feel very comfortable. His manner and expertise were top-of-the-line and state-of-the-art. He’s exceptional himself, and I felt I could trust him.”

Dr. Lester began his care of Robin by replacing a failing lower bridge with a new porcelain bridge that runs all along the front of her lower arch. He recently turned his attention to her upper arch, where Robin had some old bridgework that was failing as well as some decay on the teeth that were supporting that bridge.

“That upper bridge began falling apart piece by piece,” Dr. Lester explains. “My recommendation to Robin, and she committed to it, was to replace that bridge with a single piece, a full upper arch of teeth resting on and retained by a half dozen dental implants.”

Hybrid Prosthesis

The process of replacing Robin’s failing upper bridge and teeth began with Dr. Lester examining Robin’s jawbone three-dimensionally with a CT scan to ensure there was enough bone mass there to secure her dental implants.

“We use the CT images to determine where to place the dental implants as well,” explains Dr. Lester, who also took impressions of Robin’s teeth to make molds to follow when creating her replacement teeth.

During the next phase of the treatment plan, Dr. Lester plans to pull the remaining 14 failing teeth in Robin’s upper jaw. While she’s being treated, Robin will continue to wear half of her existing bridge, so at no time during the treatment process will Robin be without teeth in her mouth.

“There are many dentists who advertise under various trademarked and brand-names what are essentially teeth in a single day services,” Dr. Lester points out. “We offer a similar service at Park Avenue Dentistry.

“As part of our service, we first fabricate a denture. When the denture is ready to be placed in the patient’s mouth, we extract the teeth and put in the denture. Shortly thereafter, it could be the same day, we place the implants. If the implants are nice and sturdy, we screw the denture onto the implants, fixing it into place.

“I do not market this service as teeth in a single day because there are several preparatory appointments. Those appointments are necessary for designing and creating the dentures prior to the day of tooth extraction and implant placement.”

Once patients receive the fixed dentures, they wear them for approximately three months. During that time, the jawbone grows around and fuses with the dental implants to become a strong, solid unit.

“At the end of the three months, we throw away the initial, temporary denture and create a really nice, strong and very aesthetic permanent denture that goes the distance,” Dr. Lester says. “The technical term for this is an implant-supported hybrid prosthesis.

Partial Possibilities

Photos by Jordan Pysz.

James says Dr. Lester went “above and beyond” with his care.

For more than 40 years, James Carver, 64, worked in various creative capacities in the marketing field. He served as creative director for ad agencies in North Carolina and South Carolina and did copywriting in Fort Lauderdale.

“I’ve been around quite a bit in the south doing marketing,” James verifies. “Now, I’m doing things that are creative but also fun and relaxing. I’m mostly sculpting and writing, but I also do some volunteer work. I love golfing and enjoy exploring the woods
with my dogs.”

Not long ago, a medical issue forced James into a long hospital stay. He says he made it through the critical periods with his family’s support and well wishes, but he also had a frightening experience while in the hospital.

“I was eating grapes, and I ended up inhaling one of the grapes,” James explains. “It went into my lung, and I couldn’t breathe. It was such an emergency that the hospital staff had to shove a tube down my throat very fast, and a couple of my front teeth got knocked out in the process.

“When I got home and started feeling better, I looked at myself, saw my teeth and didn’t like what I saw. I looked like a person who had never taken care of his teeth. Since I was feeling better, I wanted to look better as well, so I decided to go to Dr. Lester.”

James met Dr. Lester previously when a family friend recommended the dentist. Like Robin, James was impressed by Dr. Lester as soon as he met him.

“Dr. Lester is a very down-to-earth person, and he’s got so much experience,” James reports. “He really knows what he’s doing, and he actually listens to his patients. I like that. He also enjoys a joke now and then, which makes my visits to the office more relaxing.”

When James went back to Park Avenue Dentistry with his broken front teeth, he expected Dr. Lester to recommend replacing them with dental implants. He was surprised by Dr. Lester’s actual recommendation.

“James’ upper front teeth were broken and ground down even with his gumline, so all that was left were the tooth roots,”
Dr. Lester remembers. “My initial suggestion was to crown all of the roots, so he would have multiple crowns on his upper arch. But that did not work for James financially.

“He asked me what his other options were, and I recommended a partial denture instead, and that worked for him. We were able to give James a partial denture for significantly less cost than if he chose the multiple crowns option.”

Tooth Banking

In addition to his broken front teeth, James had other upper teeth in his mouth, but they were whole or could be repaired. Those included teeth in key positions around his upper arch that would serve to hold the partial in place. Dr. Lester began James’ treatment by preparing the teeth near his front teeth that would be masked by the partial.

“My new partial didn’t turn me into a movie star, but I sure feel better about myself. I don’t cover my mouth with my hand anymore because now I have a nice smile to show people.” – James

“To prepare those teeth that were not level with James’ gumline, we ground them down so they were level with the gumline, leaving just the roots,” Dr. Lester describes. “Then, we essentially pretend the teeth are not there. There was only James’ gum, and we made a partial denture to replace the teeth that were ground down.

“We leave the roots for a reason. It is called tooth banking. If James were to change his mind in the future, we can use those roots to make legitimate teeth with crowns and get rid of the partial denture.”

There is another important reason to keep the tooth roots in the jaw. That is to keep the bone under the gums stimulated so it does not deteriorate and shrink away. When the bone in the jaw deteriorates, facial features can change. The face can develop a sunken look that makes people appear older than they are. People with low bone mass may not be candidates for dental implants as well.

“When the root stays in the gums, even if there is no tooth on top, the bone will remain,” Dr. Lester assures. “The bone exists for the purpose of supporting the root, so if the root is removed, the bone simply melts away over time. Keeping the root ensures patients’ bone mass will not change and they will maintain strong, well-shaped jawlines.”

Pleasurable Visits

Dr. Lester fashioned a partial denture for James and adjusted it several times to ensure a good fit and aesthetic appearance.

“At first, the partial was loose, but Dr. Lester adjusted it. Then, one of the teeth fell out,” James relates. “Dr. Lester sent the partial back to the dental lab he works with, and they fixed it. I like that Dr. Lester was willing to work with me until the partial was right.

“The teeth in the partial look very close to the teeth that were there before. Dr. Lester made sure the color of the teeth was just right, and they looked good. My new partial didn’t turn me into a movie star, but I sure feel better about myself. I don’t cover my mouth with my hand anymore because now I have a nice smile to show people. And I can eat pretty much anything I want with this partial.”

Dr. Lester is just getting started with his treatment plan to replace Robin’s failing upper bridge with an implant-supported hybrid denture. With Dr. Lester doing the work, she’s confident the process will go well.

“One of my friends from Sugar Hill has been going to Dr. Lester for a couple of years,” Robin explains. “He just had implants placed, and he told me all about the process, so I feel comfortable about getting them. And I absolutely won’t be without teeth while the work is being done. Dr. Lester guaranteed me that.”

Dr. Lester is using two different approaches to give his patients the same outcome, a restored smile using an aesthetic and functional dental appliance. For James, he chose a partial denture covering existing tooth roots because he did not extract any of James’ teeth.

But for Robin, Dr. Lester plans to remove all of her failing upper teeth and replace them with an implant-supported hybrid denture. Both patients are happy with their experiences with Dr. Lester and his staff at Park Avenue Dentistry.

“It’s a pleasure to go to Park Avenue Dentistry,” Robin raves. “I can’t sing Dr. Lester’s praises enough, and I totally trust him. He and his staff give me excellent care, so I don’t mind going to the office at all. No one’s ever recommended their dentist to me, but I recommend Dr. Lester, and now, seven or eight of my closest friends go to him as well.”

“It’s always a pleasure to go to Dr. Lester’s office,” James agrees. “He has a really nice and efficient staff, and they always take good care of me. They joke around with me and have fun when I’m there, which makes me feel comfortable. Dr. Lester likes to make his office comfortable for people.

“And when it comes to good care, Dr. Lester went above and beyond with my partial. He really wanted to get it right. When that tooth fell out, it was the dental lab’s problem, not his, but he made sure they fixed it correctly. It was important to him. He was on my side. I’m very satisfied with Dr. Lester’s work and definitely recommend him.”

 

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