Family Affairs

Fixed bridges add permanence to restored smiles.

London native Kevin Fitzgerald, 69, lived in the United Kingdom until he was 35 years old. After that, he moved to the United States and began a new life in South Florida. He came to the US because several family members had already made it their home, and he wanted to live in the same country as his kin.

Kevin’s photo courtesy of Kevin Fitzgerald.

Kevin Fitzgerald

“I’ve got two brothers who moved to the United States,” Kevin notes. “One of them lives in Michigan, the other lives in North Carolina. As for me, I started out living in Fort Lauderdale. I worked in roofing there and did very well. From Fort Lauderdale, I moved to North Carolina, where I met my wife.

“Five years ago, we decided to relocate to New Smyrna Beach after visiting friends there. I love it there! I’m a Florida boy at heart. Since we moved from North Carolina, I’ve been working for a local roofing company. I started out as an estimator, and now I enjoy the position of sales manager. I’ve been a manger for that company for more than three years now.”

In his position as sales manager, Kevin works face-to-face with his company’s customers. His smile is extremely important to him, so when it began to deteriorate, he realized he had to get serious about restoring it.

“I had an old bridge in the front, and it wasn’t fitting right anymore because I had severe gum disease,” Kevin describes. “My gums were protruding and contorting the bridge, and there were gaps in the bridge teeth.”

When Kevin made the decision to restore his failing bridge, he already had a dentist in mind to do the restoration for him. That dentist is Stephen P. Lester, DDS, of Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater. Dr. Lester is the same dentist some friends recommended after Kevin had a dental emergency arise while visiting New Smyrna Beach five years ago.

“At the time I was visiting New Smyrna Beach, I needed a tooth extracted,” Kevin elaborates. “My friends recommended Dr. Lester, who was their local dentist. I enjoyed a wonderful experience at Park Avenue Dentistry, if you can say that about an extraction. After I moved, I looked up Dr. Lester whenever I needed regular dental work.

“So over the years, I’ve had bits and pieces of dental work performed by Dr. Lester. This time, I sought his expertise to rebuild my smile. But the gum disease was more than he wanted to take on, so he referred me to a specialist who performed gum surgery.

“As part of the plan, I went back to Dr. Lester for the cosmetic work after my gums healed. I was very tentative about how my new smile would look after so much major gum work, but Dr. Lester put me at ease. He explained everything that was going to happen. I trusted him because of the work he’s done for me in the past, and he always keeps his word.”

Once Kevin returned, Dr. Lester began the process of making an eight-tooth fixed bridge for him.

“The first step in that process was making some preliminary molds,” Kevin reports. “Then he issued me a temporary bridge, which was passable but better than no teeth at all. I only had to put up with the temporary bridge for maybe two weeks, by which time the new bridge was ready. I’ve been walking around smiling and laughing ever since.”

Informed Decision

Like Kevin, Arleen Lammons, 54, likes living near family. The Bronx native still has many relatives in New York, but her parents, siblings, children and grandchildren all live in Florida, where she’s resided since 1985. Arleen’s family may be located throughout the state, but they get together for holidays and special occasions.

“I love spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren,” Arleen shares. “My hobby is my grandkids.”

Arleen brought her busy work life with her when she headed south, but here she created her own new career. She turned a full-time job working for the government in New York into a successful business working for herself in Florida.

“I used to work for the Internal Revenue Service in Holtsville, New York,” Arleen relates. “When we moved to Florida, I decided to start my own tax business at home. It’s grown since, and now I have an accounting and tax preparation firm on the Edgewater/New Smyrna Beach border. It’s called Lammons Accounting
and Tax Service.

“I also work in real estate. I sell residential properties, commercial properties and vacant lands. I began working in real estate in 2003.”
As a business owner, Arleen works closely with her clients, so it was important to her to have a good smile. She had issues with failing crowns on her front teeth and wanted a solution that was both aesthetically pleasing and durable.

“I had a root canal on one of my front teeth, but the tooth cracked,” Arleen describes. “When they filed down the tooth to crown it, they filed it down too much. There was not enough tooth to hold the crown. When the dentist was cementing in the crown, the tooth was moving around, and I heard a crack.

“The crown popped off a couple of times, and after replacing it, my tooth was loose and I had problems biting down on it. I couldn’t eat apples, peaches, tacos or even ice cream cones. I had to give up a lot of foods because I couldn’t bite down to tear them up before I chewed them.

“I was sent to specialist after specialist. One specialist said there was really nothing wrong, but there was an area on the x-ray that looked like a fracture. He said I needed to return to my original dentist and discuss it with him. All I got was the runaround, so I decided to go back to Dr. Lester.”

Years ago, Arleen had been a patient of Dr. Lester. Changes in her insurance forced her to find another dentist, but when it came to revitalizing her smile, she sought out the dentist with the most expertise and the kindest chairside manner.

“I figured that Dr. Lester had been around for a long time, and he’d done well for me in the past,” Arleen explains. “So I decided to go back and make him my dentist forever.

Arleen Lammons

“Dr. Lester knows what he’s doing, and he’s very caring and knowledgeable. At Park Avenue Dentistry, you’re not just a number. Dr. Lester makes you feel like you’re part of the family. He really cares about his patients.”

“When Arleen returned, she had a couple of teeth that couldn’t be saved, so I gave her several options for replacing them,” Dr. Lester informs. “She could choose removable teeth, which are inexpensive and look pretty good; dental implants, which are the most like real teeth; or a fixed bridge, which is a series of crowns hooked together and cemented in place so they don’t move. In the end, we she chose the fixed bridge. It turned out to be a six-tooth bridge that went from eye tooth to eye tooth.”

On the Fence

A dental bridge does just what its name implies. It “bridges” the gap where a person’s teeth are missing. A bridge is created by attaching multiple crowns, with replacement teeth where the person’s natural teeth had been. Today’s bridges are made entirely of porcelain, which is attractive and durable.

“In the past, bridges were made with a metal framework to give them strength across the gap,” Dr. Lester describes. “That’s no longer necessary because the ceramic materials we use now are very strong.

“Previously, the strong materials that were available to dentists for creating tooth restorations weren’t very aesthetic. But in the last ten years, these materials have become strong and beautiful at the same time. Dental technology is riding high in the twenty-first century.”

Aesthetics are important to Arleen, but she had another concern. Her front teeth were loose and wiggly, and that caused the problem with her bite.
Dr. Lester assured her that a fixed bridge would alleviate that problem.

“With a fixed bridge, we connect multiple crowns together, so the replacement teeth can essentially lean on one another and remain stable,” Dr. Lester explains. “Think of fence posts with no rails. You can wiggle the posts and even pull them out of the ground if you try hard enough.

“But put rails on those posts, and they can support each other, particularly going around a corner. In Arleen’s case, her bridge covered the front six teeth, so it went around a corner of her mouth. Her bridge was a strong, perfectly engineered structure that eliminated her tooth wiggling.”

A fixed bridge has several advantages over dental implants as a replacement for missing teeth. While both provide permanence, a fixed bridge is a little less expensive than an implant and takes less time to complete. A multiple-tooth bridge like Kevin’s and Arleen’s can be finished in two appointments separated by a three-week lab break, during which the patient wears a glued-in, temporary bridge.

“If the patient needs only a small bridge, such as a three-tooth bridge, we can typically create that in-house in one visit using our E4D machine,” Dr. Lester points out. “In those cases, there are no molds, no temporaries and no second appointments.

“It takes much too long to create anything larger than a three-tooth bridge in-house, and we don’t want our patients sitting in the dental chair all day. So in cases of larger bridges, we use the services of our specially chosen, highly skilled dental laboratory.”

Vetted Professionals

Dr. Lester is committed to ongoing education and is trained in nearly every aspect of dentistry. As a result, he can offer most dental procedures in his office so his patients don’t need to travel to multiple dental offices to receive care.

“There are times, however, if it is in the patient’s best interest, that I refer patients to qualified specialists for specific procedures and therapies,” Dr. Lester acknowledges. “There is a group of specialists in the community I work with that I have vetted and know provide the highest quality patient care and treatment.

“This was true in Kevin’s case. His gum disease was severe, and I recognized that it was best for him to be treated by a gum specialist. As it turned out, Kevin required delicate gum surgery, which was performed by the specialist. Following his surgery, Kevin returned to me, and I completed his smile restoration using a fixed bridge.”

Perfect Ending

Kevin recalls the day he received his completed fixed bridge. He was extremely pleased with how the final restoration turned out.

“It was a perfect fit,” Kevin raves.

“Dr. Lester thought I needed some trimming here and there, but I said, No. It’s perfect as is. I don’t want you to trim or alter anything. I’m very happy with the results.

“People compliment me on my smile, and not wishing to confess that it’s a bridge, I just say I’ve had cleanings done. But when I do admit to it being a brand-new bridge, I say, If you don’t remember my smile before, then this is ten times better than what it was. When anyone asks me about it, I immediately refer them to Dr. Lester.”

Arleen is happy with her outcome as well. Her new bridge gives her functional as well as aesthetic results.

“My bridge looks just like my other teeth,” she reports. “It’s very natural. You can’t tell it’s a bridge. I’m amazed. I had to wait two weeks for the finished product, but it was worth the wait. The finished product is perfect. It looks fantastic. I love it.

“My bite is a lot better with the bridge, and I’m able to eat normally again. I had a peach the other day, and it worked. Nothing fell out.”

Both Kevin and Arleen are thrilled with their restored smiles, and they give Dr. Lester the credit for his dental expertise and skill.

“My smile is terrific,” Kevin enthuses. “I’m thinking of becoming a male model! Now, when I deal with customers at work, I have a great smile, and I’m forever indebted to Dr. Lester. He did a great job.”

“When Dr. Lester put in my bridge for the first time, I was amazed,” Arleen says. “I was actually staring at it because I really couldn’t tell the difference between what he placed in my mouth and my other teeth. The bridge teeth were exactly the same, but straighter. It was fantastic.

“Dr. Lester did a beautiful, beautiful job. I don’t think anybody else could have done better. I highly recommend Dr. Lester and Park Avenue Dentistry.”

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