Hand in Hand

For medically compromised patients, dental care can be as important as medical care.

Outside of flying, there is nothing Shari Zelin fears more than dentists. That’s why she initially ignored all the suggestions she received from family and friends to visit a dentist not long after she suffered a stroke a few years ago.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Dr. Fatmi helped put a new smile on Shari’s face.

“At the time, it just seemed unheard of for me to visit a dentist,” the 55-year-old Long Island, New York native explains. “I’d just had a stroke. I was focused on learning how to walk again. Going to see a dentist? That was the least of my worries.”
It was, until a cap came off one of her front teeth about a year into her recovery. That’s when Shari finally acted on the advice of her mother and went to Regency Court Dentistry to see Naved Fatmi, DMD, who soon educated her on why she should have come to see him sooner.
Stroke victims sometimes develop trouble either with swallowing or retaining saliva. The latter can lead to tooth decay, which is why Shari’s cap fell off. In Shari’s case, however, the first cap to go would not be the last.

Dental Domino Effect

Not long after she first visited Dr. Fatmi, Shari lost another cap. In addition, she began to experience a lot of pain and discomfort on one side of her mouth, so much that she began chewing her food exclusively on the other side.
Dr. Fatmi soon discovered that all of Shari’s problems stemmed from a lack of proper saliva levels in her mouth, an issue that he knew would grow far worse if she didn’t take action.
“Shari came to us as a medically compromised patient who was on many medications that have a side effect of decreasing the amount of saliva produced,” explains Dr. Fatmi. “If there’s not proper saliva flow, you start getting cavities and dry mouth.
“Dry mouth can cause even more dental issues, which is why it’s so important for somebody who becomes medically compromised not to push dentistry aside just because they believe the medical issues need to come first.
“The medical and the dental really have to go hand in hand. If your overall health starts to deteriorate, you need to pay even more attention to your dental health and not neglect it because it will become harder to chew and eat food properly.”
Shari can attest to that. She eventually had 14 teeth pulled as a result of the complications stemming from her stroke. In addition, had she not gone to see
Dr. Fatmi when she did, her medical problems might have been worse.
Left untreated, tooth decay has the potential to create abscesses, which are pockets of infection in the mouth. Those infections can lead to sinus problems and sometimes even spread to the jawbone, heart and brain.
That’s why it’s paramount, Dr. Fatmi says, to continue to see a dentist regularly while recovering from other medical issues. In Shari’s case, Dr. Fatmi discovered the issue before it had become too big to tackle.
“When Shari first came to us, she hadn’t seen a dentist for quite a while,” Dr. Fatmi relates. “When she came back after that first visit, we put together a comprehensive dental treatment plan for her.”
The plan began with Dr. Fatmi taking x-rays and producing a digital pantograph of Shari’s mouth to determine the extent of the damage, which was severe enough for Dr. Fatmi to recommend dental implants as the best solution.
“He explains everything to you, from A to Z,” Shari raves. “He does not leave one thing out. Not one thing. That’s why he said he needed to do the implants, because you don’t want to get these infections into your body. It can affect your heart.”
Armed with the knowledge of how dangerous her situation could become, Shari agreed that implants were the only way to go. Dr. Fatmi then proceeded to pull the 14 teeth that were likely to cause the most problems in the future.

“His work is just stellar. It’s spot on. And let me tell you something, I’ve worked in New York all my life, and I’ve been to many dentists in New York, but I would fly back down here from New York just to come back to him. I’d do that in a heartbeat.’’ –Shari

Shari considers herself a quick healer, but because of her recent medical history, Dr. Fatmi gave her a couple of months to heal from the extraction surgery before he began the process of fitting her for her final implants and crown prostheses.
“We needed to provide her the time before we finalized anything because we had to make sure that the implants don’t fail,” Dr. Fatmi explains. “We didn’t want to rush anything because if you rush an implant case, the implant can fail and then you’re going backward.”

Flawless Smile

Once Dr. Fatmi began moving forward with Shari again, he fit her on both the top arch and the bottom for seven implant-supported bridges with crowns on top of the implants. He then gave her the option of making any changes she might find necessary.
“I was able to do some tweaks here and there to make them perfect like they’re supposed to be, which was great,” Shari notes. “If the bite’s a little rough, you tweak that. If one part is a little higher than the other part, you tweak that.”
Dr. Fatmi didn’t just tweak the crowns he’d attached to the implants. He also corrected a small gap Shari had between her two front teeth, leaving her with what
Dr. Fatmi describes as a flawless smile.
“If she’s smiling, you won’t notice that she has had full implants put in, both on the top and the bottom,” Dr. Fatmi declares. “There’s no metal showing. Aesthetically, it’s very, very pleasing.”
Shari agrees.
“My smile is different than it was before,” she exudes. “I’m back to eating on both sides of my mouth and eating regularly again, which is such a pleasure. I’m just very happy with all that Dr. Fatmi has done for me.
“His work is just stellar. It’s spot on. And let me tell you something, I’ve worked in New York all my life, and I’ve been to many dentists in New York, but I would fly back down here from New York just to come back to him. I’d do that in a heartbeat. That’s how much I think of him and his staff. They make you feel so comfortable there. They really do an unbelievable job.”

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    • Regency Court Dentistry

      Regency Court Dentistry understands the importance of maintaining the health of your smile. This is why they offer a number of comprehensive general health and restorative dentistry services. From regularly scheduled teeth cleanings and den... Read More

    • Naved Fatmi, DMD

      Naved Fatmi, DMD, received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville. Dr. Fatmi is an adjunct professor at Palm Beach State College. He is a member of the American Dental Society, t... Read More