Leading the Way

Dentist has the answers for upper and lower dentures.

Joseph Bird knows the importance of good leadership. He spent his working career serving two of the country’s biggest insurance companies as their general manager and assistant vice president. When a personal battle with several disconcerting dental issues arose recently, the retired New Jersey native wanted a dentist who was a leader also.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Implants have allowed Joseph to attain a higher quality of life.

“I had veneers on my front teeth, which were deteriorating,” he reveals. “I also had bridges on either side on the top, and I lost a tooth next to one of them. I thought it was an isolated incident, but then another tooth became loose in the front, and I started to become concerned. I was also having terrible headaches on the right side of my head. It was awful.
“At first, I thought about getting my four front teeth capped, so I started calling around to dentists in the area. They told me they’d have to examine me before they could give me any information on prices. Most wanted to charge me just to look at my teeth, but one practice stood out. They told me they’d evaluate me at no charge. It was Venetian Dental in Venice.”
Venetian Dental is the practice of Alexander Gaukhman, DMD.
Dr. Gaukhman is a skilled and experienced dentist who offers exceptional general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry at his offices in Venice, Osprey and Sarasota. Joseph has owned a condo on Venice Island for 27 years, so he made an appointment at the office nearest to him.
“When I met Dr. Gaukhman, I was very impressed by him,” says Joseph. “I liked the way he carried himself and the way he spoke. He was a leader. I trusted him. I thought, I’m going to follow his recommendations.”
Those recommendations did not include capping Joseph’s four front teeth. Dr. Gaukhman told Joseph he could do that for him if he really wanted him to, but he made it clear that the extensive damage he found upon first examining Joseph all but eliminated caps as a feasible option.
“Joseph initially came to us complaining of headaches and pain in his upper right jaw,” reports Dr. Gaukhman. “It turned out he had an abscess in one of his teeth. He also had extensive periodontal disease, so we decided to extract all of his upper teeth and replace them with a denture.”
Joseph was fully on board with Dr. Gaukhman’s treatment plan. At Joseph’s next appointment, Dr. Gaukhman took an impression to shape Joseph’s new teeth, extracted his old teeth and provided him with a temporary denture.
“When we place the denture immediately after extracting the teeth, it acts as a bandage,” explains Dr. Gaukhman. “It minimizes bleeding and swelling because the gums can only swell up to the denture.”“They told me to call them and come back if ever anything doesn’t feel right. They even called to check on me a couple of times.” – Joseph
“I agreed to the procedure and was put under,” describes Joseph. “I never felt an ounce of pain before, during or after the entire procedure. When I recovered, my girlfriend took me back home. I woke up with minimal discomfort, if any, and felt great.
“My only problem with the denture is that I’m not crazy about the part that goes over my palate. I know it helps keep the denture in my mouth, but it alters my speech a little bit and is uncomfortable. I’m seriously considering getting dental implants to hold the denture in place so Dr. Gaukhman can cut back that part that goes over my palate.”

Rectifying Shortcomings

Upper dentures generally don’t require implants to remain stable, observes Dr. Gaukhman.
They typically fit securely because the palate, the roof of the mouth, enables the creation of sufficient suction to hold them in place. Traditional upper dentures, however, have a few shortcomings that can be rectified by securing them with dental implants.
“One issue with traditional dentures is a decrease in taste,” notes Dr. Gaukhman. “The tongue is mainly responsible for discerning taste, but the palate also plays a role. When a traditional denture is made for the upper jaw, it covers the palate, which can deprive patients of sensing the full complement of tastes.
“Another issue that can occur with traditional dentures is a gag reflex. Some patients experience this due to the denture being over the palate. An implant-retained upper denture is shaped like a horseshoe instead of fully covering the palate. It frees up the taste buds and eliminates the gag reflex.
“Joseph currently has a traditional denture, but he’s having difficulty because it covers his palate and affects his speech. He’s looking for a higher quality of life, and an adjusted denture secured by implants offers that. When he comes back, we’ll place four implants in his upper jaw, which will enable us to make a horseshoe denture without a palate.
“It’s due to gravity that four implants are needed to secure an upper horseshoe denture without a palate. Dentures have to work with or against gravity. Lower dentures move down with gravity, so two implants are sufficient for a lower denture. Implant-retained upper dentures have to work against gravity without the help of suction, so four implants keep them more secure.”

Secured Foundation

Hailing from a little town outside Niagara Falls, New York, Gerald Conahan first became a snowbird in 1998 when he bought a condo in Venice. Shortly thereafter, Gerald’s annual, two-month stay in Florida turned into a nine-month stay. Now, he’s officially a resident of the Sunshine State.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Gerald Conahan

In Florida, Gerald found more than warm weather and a great place to spend most of the months of his retirement years. He also discovered the answer to a longtime problem he had with his teeth.
“When I was very young, I had soft teeth,” Gerald shares. “Even though I went to the dentist regularly, I couldn’t keep my teeth from decaying. When I was in my twenties, one tooth got so bad that my dentist said he couldn’t save it. One thing led to another, and eventually, all my teeth had to be removed. I’ve been wearing upper and lower dentures ever since – for at least thirty, maybe forty years.”
In most cases, upper dentures fit securely because the palate enables the creation of enough suction to hold the appliance in place. This was true in Gerald’s case. The story is often different with lower dentures.
Like many people with lower dentures, Gerald had difficulties keeping his lower denture secure. Lower dentures can be more difficult to keep stable because there is no palate in the bottom jaw due to the location of the tongue. Therefore, less suction is produced. As a result, lower dentures tend to slip and slide.
“After a while, my lower denture would become loose and get very sloppy,” Gerald relates. “It wasn’t comfortable, and I had trouble chewing. I really had to watch what I ate. I couldn’t eat anything that required a lot of heavy chewing, especially steak, unless it was a filet mignon, and even that had to be very, very tender. I couldn’t eat any other cut of steak or anything else that was tough to chew.”
Not long ago, Gerald learned how some dentists use dental implants to secure dentures and keep them from moving. He inquired about them at one dental practice but was told he was not a candidate because he lacked sufficient bone in his jaw to bond with the implants.
Undeterred, Gerald mentioned his interest in dental implants to another dentist, who referred him to Dr. Gaukhman.
“I had already been to one dentist and had new dentures made,” recalls Gerald. “Still, I had it in the back of my mind to look into the implants. When I saw Dr. Gaukhman and he looked at my x-rays, he said, Yes, he could put the implants in with the bone I had left in my lower jaw.”

Stable and Secure

“Gerald was referred to my practice by another dentist specifically because he could not keep his lower denture stable,” reports Dr. Gaukhman. “He could not eat because the denture would slide right out.
“The denture he had was made properly, but Gerald didn’t have enough bone in his lower jaw to support it, which is very common. However, he did have just enough bone to place dental implants. Securing a lower denture with dental implants is the most effective way to stabilize it. I recommended two implants to secure Gerald’s lower denture.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Gerald spreads his smile all around town.

When dentures are secured by implants, they don’t rock or move; they stay in place when wearers speak and eat. Secured dentures also provide added strength for biting and chewing.
For patients who still have their existing teeth, Dr. Gaukhman can place the implants on the day he extracts the teeth. In most cases, temporary dentures are also created at that time.
“Typically, once the patient’s problem is diagnosed and the treatment is determined, I take impressions of the teeth,” expounds Dr. Gaukhman. “When the dentures are ready, which is usually the same day or the next day, I extract the teeth and put the dentures in right away.
“For the next three to six months, the patient wears temporary dentures until the implants fuse with the jawbone and the gums heal. Then the temporary dentures are replaced with the permanent appliances.”
Gerald’s situation was a little different because he had recently been fit for new dentures and did not need a new lower denture – temporary or permanent – made for him. That was not a problem for Dr. Gaukhman, who simply adjusted Gerald’s existing denture to fit with the implants.
“In Gerald’s case, I placed the two implants, and after they healed, I was able to retrofit his existing denture,” confirms Dr. Gaukhman. “We do not have to start from scratch for people who have relatively new, two- to three-year-old appliances. Retrofitting a denture essentially involves making two holes in the denture to accept the implant attachments.”

Long-Lasting Impression

“Dr. Gaukhman put in the implants for me, and that went very well,” says Gerald. “He gave me some type of Novocain®, and the procedure wasn’t too bad. I went back to the office regularly so he could check the implants and make sure everything was okay.Graphic from kisspng.
“Several months went by while we waited for the implants to fuse with the bone in my jaw. Then, he prepared my lower denture with the clips that snap onto the implants. Everything went fine with that as well.”
Gerald’s desire to correct his ill-fitting lower denture and his persistence paid off when he found Dr. Gaukhman and Venetian Dental. Gerald was pleased with the dentist’s process, and now that the work has been completed, he says he finds it easier to speak, and to eat even hard-to-chew foods.
“I’m eating steak again,” he marvels. “I’m doing very well with my implant-supported denture. It’s very comfortable and a big improvement over what I had before. I’m very satisfied with the final outcome of the implant process.”
While Joseph waits to have the implants placed that will make his upper denture perfect, the other outcome of his treatment made a positive impact on his health. He feels much better since the abscess in his tooth was treated.
“When Dr. Gaukhman removed my teeth and gave me antibiotics, the infection in my mouth went away,” he states. “I no longer have those headaches on the side of my head. I think we caught that infection just in time. I credit Dr. Gaukhman for that.”
As it pertains to Dr. Gaukhman and his staff at Venetian Dental, Gerald has only good things to say about them. He says he’s very happy with his entire experience and his decision to go to the practice.
“I would absolutely recommend the implant process and Venetian Dental,” he comments. “Everybody there is very professional, and they’re very patient oriented and concerned. After I had my implants put in, they called me to make sure I was healing properly, in addition to the regular appointments I had with them.”
Joseph also has positive things to report about Dr. Gaukhman and his staff.
“Dr. Gaukhman’s entire staff is terrific,” he offers. “I went back four times to get my denture adjusted, and they were always very pleasant and never said, Enough is enough. Instead, they told me to call them and come back if ever anything doesn’t feel right. They even called to check on me a couple of times.
“I would absolutely recommend the implant process and Venetian Dental. Everybody there is very professional, and they’re very patient oriented and concerned.” – Gerald“I really like Dr. Gaukhman. Venetian Dental is a well-run organization. Because of my experience, I can tell you that when you have a group that works well together, it starts at the top with a good leader. Good leaders hire good people and manage them to be patient oriented, and that’s what they are at Venetian Dental.
“I have so much confidence in Dr. Gaukhman and Venetian Dental that I’m going back to get the implants. I highly recommend them.” Gerald agrees.
“I give Dr. Gaukhman and Venetian Dental a double A-plus rating!”

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    • Venetian Dental

      Venetian Dental is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile. Their state-of-the art dental offices offer the latest in dental technology and patient amenities. They provide comprehensive treatment planning, and use r... Read More

    • Alexander Gaukhman, DMD

      Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, earned his dental degree at Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry, Ft. Lauderdale. He completed his undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Dr. Gaukhman is a diplomate of the Inter... Read More