My Time NOW

Woman rewards herself with beautiful, new smile.

Photos courtesy of Connie Zahorchak.

Connie Zahorchak

After years of focusing almost entirely on the health needs of her family members, Connie Zahorchak decided a few years ago to focus on a couple of specific health care needs of her own.

“For years, you do for others as a mother and a wife and neglect yourself. That’s what I had done,” Connie confirms. “But through a lot of those years, it bothered me that my front teeth were uneven, so finally, I said, Now, it’s my time.”

It wasn’t just the look of her front teeth that bothered Connie. She was also bothered by what she describes as a popping and clicking in her right jaw and headaches. She initially brought up both issues while visiting with her primary care physician.

“My doctor mentioned that she’d heard really good things about a dentist in the area,” Connie says. “She said he was wellliked by patients and had a reputation for excellent work. Based on her recommendation, I called his office and made an appointment.”

The dentist Connie was referred to is Stephen G. Blank, DDS, who practices cosmetic and functional dentistry in Port St. Lucie, where careful planning is at the core of improving the look and function of his patients’ smiles.

“Your smile really is your best accessory,” Dr. Blank elaborates. “That’s the underlying assumption driving all of our efforts. We design a plan that corrects any underlying issues that are present so that the beautiful smiles we create for all our patients will last.

“And the first step in that process is to set up a well-designed treatment plan so that creating a beautiful smile is possible. Both beauty and functionality are critical to patient satisfaction and long-lasting dental work.”

Before image courtesy of Stephen Blank, DDS.

Before

In designing a treatment plan for Connie, Dr. Blank’s primary objective was to alleviate the cause of her headaches and the clicking in her right jaw. The underlying issue there, he discovered, was a misaligned arch.

“She had a narrow arch that overlapped in the front and caused her jaw to close in a position that wasn’t comfortable for her,” Dr. Blank recalls. “Her teeth were not meeting together in harmony.

“To correct that, we decided that the best course of treatment was to start with a bite appliance to reposition her jaw. Once we were able to get her comfortable with the bite appliance, we moved on to straightening her teeth.

“Connie was very clear about not wanting to wear metal braces. Thankfully, we have another option for patients such as Connie called Invisalign® clear aligners that for many patients is a far more ideal solution for straightening their teeth.”

Aesthetic Appeal

Invisalign clear aligners do the same job as metal braces, but they are made of a hard plastic and are virtually invisible. They are also removable, so patients can take them out when eating or brushing their teeth.

Each clear aligner is designed to be worn day and night for approximately two weeks, after which time the aligner is changed out for a new one. The entire length of time a patient wears Invisalign clear aligners depends on how misaligned their teeth are.

“I live in Pittsburgh, and for years, I’ve arranged my travel schedule to return to Florida to have follow-ups done with Dr. Blank. He’s just that good.” – Connie

Many patients complete their realignment program within a year, but that was not the case with Connie. She wore her aligners for just over a year, but Connie and Dr. Blank agree that the extra couple of months were a good investment in time.

“Invisalign therapy improved Connie’s smile tremendously,” Dr. Blank reports. “The only issue we had was that after completing the Invisalign therapy, the wear patterns from the previous crooked positions of her teeth became more apparent.”

Having already straightened her teeth, Connie next sought to erase the unappealing wear patterns on them. Dr. Blank achieved that objective by first measuring Connie’s teeth and taking photographs of them during what is known as a smile design visit.

For years, the next step in the process was to send the measurements and photographs to a lab, where a wax model was made. That model was then used to create the crowns and veneers that completed the patient’s new smile.

But Dr. Blank recently added to his practice a Formlabs Form 3, a 3-D printer that allows Dr. Blank to design and produce aligners right in his office.

“The 3-D printer allows us to design smiles for makeover cases right here in our office,” Dr. Blank informs. “Instead of sending a case to a laboratory for a wax up, we design it on the computer, print out the model and use that to help create your new smile.

“We can also make bite guard appliances in the office by designing them on the computer and printing them out. There are a lot of different dental applications that can be done with a 3-D printer, and they all represent win-win situations for our patients.”

Sparkling Results

The 3-D printer is so new to Dr. Blank’s office that he sought the help of a lab in creating Connie’s new smile. The results were sparkling, he says, and Connie concurs.

Photos courtesy of Connie Zahorchak.

Connie Zahorchak

In fact, her smile is so much more appealing now that one of her best friends began to see Dr. Blank for her dental work shortly after Connie did. Connie, meanwhile, is just happy that she was referred to Dr. Blank.

“Everything my doctor was told about Dr. Blank and his staff turned out to be completely true in my experience,” Connie raves. “The first thing that stood out for me was the office environment. It is very relaxing, which I like.

“Once I was with Dr. Blank, he took plenty of time understanding my concerns. It was unlike any visit I’ve had with a dentist. He was never pushy. He gave me all the information and let me decide what to do and when to do it.

“He is so conscientious. If there was a problem, all I had to do was call and come in, with no waiting. Dr. Blank and his team are exceptionally courteous. I never, ever had a bad day there.

“I live in Pittsburgh and for years, I’ve traveled to Florida for my follow-ups visits with Dr. Blank. He’s just that good.”

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    • Stephen G. Blank, DDS office

      Stephen G. Blank, DDS, is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago. He has since completed intensive continuing education studies. Dr. Blank has studied temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders under Mark Piper, MD, D... Read More

    • Stephen G. Blank, DDS

      Stephen G. Blank, DDS, is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago. He has since completed intensive continuing education studies. Dr. Blank has studied TMJ under Mark Piper, MD, DMD, at the Piper Education and Resea... Read More