Dental Implants Secure Quality of Life

William Reichley struggled with dental challenges since early adulthood.

Dr. Clark Brown of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne treated William Reichley for a slipping denture with a subperiosteal dental implant. Dr. William Vaughn is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

William is thrilled with how a new dental implant has improved his quality of life.

As a young man, William lost all of his teeth and has worn dentures ever since. At 72, the retired orchid nursery owner was enjoying retirement. What he wasn’t enjoying was how his lower denture was affecting his quality of life.

The denture frequently slipped out of place, which was a problem at restaurants. William enjoys dining out with friends, but in the middle of meals, he often had to excuse himself from the table to reapply denture adhesive.

“As I was eating, the adhesive would disappear. My denture would actually come up off my jawbone and float,” he shares.

The ill-fitting denture affected his ability to chew. “One of my favorite foods is steak. To eat it, I had to cut the meat into very small pieces. I just had no chewing power left in my bottom jaw,” he continues.

“There were times when I wanted a salad but wouldn’t order one because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I would order the soup instead. I steered away from anything that required a lot of chewing.”

Reapplying denture adhesive was part of William’s routine outside of restaurants, too. Not only was the process inconvenient and messy, but it also worried him.

“I had to apply adhesive to my lower plate several times a day, and I knew that this couldn’t go on. I was concerned about what all that adhesive might be doing to my body,” relates William. “I was miserable because I couldn’t keep my dentures where they belonged.”

William began to consider traditional dental implants. His search for a dentist who could solve his chewing problem, led him to Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, at Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne. Dr. Brown is a comprehensively trained and experienced dentist who has practiced cosmetic, general and implant dentistry for more than 35 years.

“I was quite impressed by Dr. Brown’s many successes,” notes William. “Not only does he perform dental implant procedures, he also teaches the procedures. I liked that. I figured anyone who teaches other dentists must be really good.”

Bone Loss – No Problem

During William’s initial visit, a complete evaluation by Dr. Brown revealed why William’s denture frequently slipped out of place. The bone structure of his jaw had atrophied from his long use of dentures, which isn’t unusual. The body naturally reabsorbs bone that surrounds teeth roots when teeth are missing, and over time, this will affect how dentures fit.

“Very often, people who have worn dentures for a long time don’t have enough bone to hold a denture in place,” notes Dr. Brown.

Lack of bone density presented another challenge. William didn’t have enough bone for placement of traditional dental implants. In fact, the bone loss was so extensive that even bone grafts weren’t going to be a practical solution.Dr. Clark Brown of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne treated William Reichley for a slipping denture with a subperiosteal dental implant. Dr. William Vaughn is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

A traditional dental implant is a small, titanium screw that is inserted into the jawbone. As the bone heals, it fuses to the implant, creating a secure bond. The body doesn’t reject the implant because it doesn’t recognize titanium as a foreign object. A prosthesis such as a denture, a partial bridge, or an individual crown, is attached to the implant. Sufficient bone is required to place an implant into the jaw.

“William would have needed an extensive amount of grafting for traditional implants. During the process, he would also have had to go on using his loose, uncomfortable denture for another six to seven months,” notes Dr. Brown.

However, William wasn’t out of luck, or doomed to an ill-fitting denture.

Dr. Brown proposed an alternative: a type of implant that doesn’t require bone grafts, called a subperiosteal implant. A subperiosteal implant differs from traditional implants in shape and placement, and bypasses the challenge of a thinned jawbone.

A subperiosteal implant is a custom-made metal framework placed on top of the jawbone, underneath the gum.

“During the healing process, a fibrous membrane on the jawbone’s outer surface, the periosteum, firmly attaches to the implant’s framework,” educates Dr. Brown.

“That is what keeps the implant solidly in place and prevents it from moving,” he continues. “All that is seen are metal posts that protrude from the gum tissue. The denture just snaps into place on the posts.”

“What they did was open my gum and inserted a metal plate that sits on the lower jaw bone,” shares William.  “Then they stitched the gum closed. Attached to that plate were four prongs, and the new denture fits onto those prongs.”

Subperiosteal implants are a time-tested technology. They first started being used as a solution for securing loose dentures in 1948.

“I’ve been placing implants for nearly thirty-five years, and the first two I did were subperiosteal implants,” notes Dr. Brown. “More than three decades later, those two patients are still doing well with them.”

Advancements in technology have made the procedure for subperiosteal implants less invasive.

Previously, the gum had to be surgically opened twice for a subperiosteal implant. The gum was first opened to make an impression of the jawbone that was used to manufacture the implant. After the implant was finished and ready for insertion, the gum was opened a second time to place the device.

“We now have a cone beam CT scanner that creates a high-definition, 3-D image of the jawbone. This digital image eliminates the need to open the gum to take an impression,” explains Dr. Brown.

“The CT scan is sent to a company who then makes an exact replica of the patient’s jaw,” he says. “From there, the replica is sent to a lab to create the implant that will precisely match the individual’s jaw. The only surgery needed is to place the implant.”

William had the in-office procedure with moderate IV conscious sedation. He only needed an over-the-counter pain reliever the next day.

Dr. Brown’s expertise, along with the warm and friendly atmosphere of his office, gave William confidence about having the procedure. He knew he was in good hands.

“I never had a moment of anxiety about what was going to happen,” he notes. “Everything was explained to me so well that I went in with no fears, no doubts and no questions whatsoever.”

Arch Support

Rosemarie Blackburn, 73, admits she wasn’t as diligent about caring for her teeth as she got older. She was sure that led to the problems she began experiencing with them.

“I neglected my teeth for a long time,” she confirms. “The problems started when I got into my sixties. My teeth began to hurt, and I had root canals and other dental work done. Then, my gums started receding, and my teeth began falling out.

“I lost a lot of my back teeth, and I only had seven teeth left. I could still eat, and people couldn’t see my missing teeth when I smiled because I still had five teeth in the front. But I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. I had to do something.”

Rosemarie’s dentist at the time started to restore the bottom of her mouth, but she was more concerned about the more visible top. She wore a removable partial denture that no longer stayed in place and sometimes fell out. Rosemarie wanted a dentist with rejuvenation expertise to rebuild her upper teeth.

Dr. Clark Brown of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne treated William Reichley for a slipping denture with a subperiosteal dental implant. Dr. William Vaughn is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

Rosemarie is pleased with the treatment she receives from Dr. Vaughn.

“I have a friend who had her teeth done by Dr. Brown,” she reports. “She told me I should go to him, so I did.”

At Implant Dentistry of Florida, Rosemarie met with William S. Vaughn, DMD, Dr. Brown’s talented associate.
Dr. Vaughn’s recommendation was to remove all of Rosemarie’s remaining teeth and rebuild an upper arch using dental implants with a fixed appliance, or prosthesis. Rosemarie liked and trusted Dr. Vaughn, and she agreed with his recommendation.

“When I first saw Rosemarie, she had a partial denture on top that was no longer working for her,” says Dr. Vaughn. “Her remaining teeth were infected, so we removed them. She wanted a solution that was secure and couldn’t be taken out. She previously had a fixed prosthesis placed on her lower jaw, and she wanted something similar to replace her upper teeth.”

The Next Best Thing

Dental implants are the best thing next to natural teeth, states Dr. Vaughn. With fixed restorations or prostheses attached, they provide a secure solution to missing teeth.

“Removable prostheses, such as standard dentures and bridges, reduce the patient’s chewing ability,” he notes. “That results in a lower quality of life because they are not able to eat all the foods they want. In addition, many people don’t like the idea of having removable teeth, which can come out accidentally while eating or talking.

“We can circumvent that by using a prosthesis that stays in place and is held securely by dental implants.

“With a fixed prosthesis, the dentist can remove it if necessary, but otherwise it stays solidly in place,” explains Dr. Vaughn. “Because they’re secure, fixed prostheses can withstand greater forces than standard dentures and bridges. This gives the patient greater chewing ability than they would have with something removable, and a better quality of life.”

Start to Finish

The process of restoring Rosemarie’s upper teeth is ongoing. She’s healing now and looking forward to the next step, when she will get her prosthesis. She’s thrilled by how
Dr. Vaughn is taking care of her in the interim.

“Dr. Vaughn pulled all of my top teeth,” she relates. “He will start getting the implants ready, but my mouth has to heal first. The new teeth will be screwed in where the implants are, and the appliance will stay in. In the meantime, I have a denture on the top.

“The denture is temporary so I can go out and not look like an old woman. Also, if I had no teeth on the top, I couldn’t eat.”

Rosemarie is excited about the new prosthesis for her upper arch, but she’s already pleased with the quality of work done on her temporary denture. She’s amazed Dr. Vaughn took the time to make her look good while she’s waiting for the finished product.

Dr. Clark Brown of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne treated William Reichley for a slipping denture with a subperiosteal dental implant. Dr. William Vaughn is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

Progressive bone loss
caused by tooth loss
still allows placement of thesubperiosteal implant.

“The denture looks like my real teeth,” she says. “In the front, I had two teeth that were whiter than the others, and the teeth in the dentures look just like the ones in my pictures.”

Phenomenal Results

Both Rosemarie and William are pleased with the results of their dental implants. Having implants allows them to chew normally and adds to their quality of life, they report.

William describes his new implant as “absolutely wonderful.” For the first time in decades, William can get through his day without worrying about being embarrassed by a dislodged denture.

The implant doesn’t move at all, even when he’s eating. Plus, not a single drop of dental adhesive is required.

“Having a dental implant has been phenomenal. It’s a great, great result and I’m very happy,” enthuses William. “I eat anything I want. In fact, I recently went out and had a steak dinner – with a salad. I am still enjoying going out with friends and being able to say, Guess what. I’m chewing and I don’t have to leave to put denture adhesive in my mouth.

“I recommend Dr. Brown to people all the time. His clinic is wonderful and so is his staff,” he continues. “I can only say good things about Dr. Brown and what he has done for my life.”

“I tell all my neighbors about them,” adds Rosemarie. “I say, if you have problems with your teeth and need a dentist, go to Dr. Vaughn at Implant Dentistry of Florida. He’s one of the best!

FHCN staff article. Photos by Nerissa Johnson & Jordan Pysz. Subperiosteal graphic courtesy of Implant Dentistry of Florida. Implant graphic from istockphoto.com. mkb
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    • Implant Dentistry of Florida

      Dr. Clark Brown and his team at Implant Dentistry of Florida are committed to providing you with excellent dental care in a warm, comfortable setting. They provide the latest techniques in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and general ... Read More

    • Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS

      Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, is board certified by the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Geo... Read More