A loose crown leads to a perfect-fit ending.
When Camille Blume moved to Florida from Colorado in 2013, finding a reputable, experienced dentist was at the top of her to-do list.
“I had some dental work done decades ago, and I was never quite satisfied with the end result,” Camille relays. “It was my front teeth that were bothersome to me. I had crowns and the color never really matched my natural teeth. One of the crowns was loose, and I was afraid it would fall out.
“That became an issue with everything I did, from biting into food to brushing my teeth to talking or just smiling. I wanted to hide. I was embarrassed by my smile! I really wanted to feel better about myself. After all, your smile is the first thing people notice about you.”
Once Camille settled into retirement in Port St. Lucie, she began looking for a dentist that could provide the permanent fix she always wanted.
“I wanted that bright, beautiful smile I always dreamt about,” she says. “I just needed to find the perfect dentist to do the work. I never wanted to look like a Hollywood star; I just wanted it to be right.”
By chance, Camille was referred to Stephen G. Blank, DDS, who practices cosmetic and functional dentistry in Port St. Lucie.
Dr. Blank stresses that though many cosmetic dental procedures help patients’ smiles look better. The procedures are also instrumental in improving function and preventing further dental damage.
“Not everyone needs everything at the same time, but eventually you need to do something,” says the dentist. “It’s like having a car, where you repair it and maintain it, and sometimes you actually have to replace things.”
Before a treatment plan can be put in place, Dr. Blank’s patients undergo in-depth testing and evaluations. The 1.5-hour exam includes a complete oral examination, including TMJ, bite and soft tissue evaluations; computerized periodontal measurements; digital x-rays; an intra-oral video; oral hygiene fitness evaluation and more.
“It’s not your typical five-minute dental exam,” assures the dentist. “The foundation is to build a good dental relationship that will allow you to achieve the best oral health possible and, with proper care, maintain that level of health for a lifetime.
Dr. Blank says Camille’s situation was nothing he hasn’t seen before, so he knew just where to start to get her smile where she wanted it.
“When Camille first came to me, she had crowns on her front teeth that were discolored, so she wanted to replace those,” Dr. Blank describes. “In fact, as she mentioned, one of her crowns was loose and looked to be falling downward.
“To get things started with Camille, we took care of some small things first, including replacing metal fillings with tooth colored composite fillings on several teeth. Not everyone chooses to do this with metal fillings, and I never push replacement fillings on my patients unless necessary. It is a choice whether or not a patient wants to have those replaced with composite. Camille wanted to switch them out, so we did.
“Her troublesome front tooth began having some sensitivity where the crown was loose,” he continues. “X-rays showed the underlying root was fractured. Once a root fractures, bacteria work their way into the area. This was causing Camille’s discomfort.
“The tooth needed to be extracted. As part of treatment, Camille chose to have a replacement crown, as well as a three-tooth fixed bridge to replace the missing tooth. I like to describe what we did, overall, as a mini dental makeover across the front of her mouth.”
During Camille’s diagnostic visit for the crown, Dr. Blank designed the size, shape, color and position of the restoration. Models of her teeth and photographs of her mouth were taken and sent to the lab for a wax-up.
On her next visit, the tooth was prepared for the placement of the new restoration. Impressions were then made for the lab, and temporaries that match the wax-up were created.
Following that second visit, Camille left Dr. Blank’s office with resin temporaries. This allows us to avoid any toothless period for the patient.
“The temporaries give patients the opportunity to see how their new smile will look,” educates Dr. Blank. “At the temporary stage, changes can be made, such as adding a bit of length or a little curvature or a slight reduction. We give the lab instructions on coloring, translucency and brightness. Then, teeth are scanned and digital images are sent to the laboratory. In most cases, scanning has replaced the need for the gooey rubber impressions.”
Dr. Blank assures that today’s products provide durability and longevity to patients with great aesthetics for a natural smile.
“This isn’t your grandmother’s bridge,” he says. “Dental aesthetics have come a long way from when I was in dental school. Today’s crown is made of all-ceramic porcelain materials, so ten years from now, if the gumline shrinks at all, Camille will not see a darkness above the top of the crown, which may occur with crowns made with metal components. With all ceramic crowns, you won’t see that. Nowadays, products are created for longevity and with better aesthetics than ever before.
“So, when Camille smiles, a person won’t think to themselves, Oh, nice bridge; they will think, Oh, nice teeth because they look so incredibly natural. She looks great!”
Connecting with patients
Dr. Blank emphasizes that an important aspect of his success as a dentist is his relationship with his patients.
“I give them eye contact and explain to them from start to finish what to expect, and I hold nothing back,” he says. “I’m honest because I know that is what people want in a dentist. Honesty and integrity, both of which I strive to bring to the table.”
Camille says she has never felt as comfortable and at ease with a dentist before finding Dr. Blank.
“He is very knowledgeable and he can do anything you can think of as far as fixing your teeth,” Camille says. “Dr. Blank keeps up with the latest technology and attends conferences on a regular basis in order to learn and apply the latest techniques and services. He is very advanced in what he offers as far as dental repairs.”
Camille adds that Dr. Blank and his staff strive to offer personable service.
“I have been to dentists that were not personable at all. They would come in the room and sit behind me and look in my mouth. They never came around to the front of the chair to look me in the eye and talk to me face to face. I felt like a number. That’s not the case with Dr. Blank. He connects with his patients.
“And everything he does is painless. I think that’s important when it comes to going to the dentist. No one wants to be going through any kind of pain or feel uncomfortable. He is careful and aware of what I need. I’ve never been disappointed.
“He is magical.”
FHCN article by Judy Wade. Before and After Photos courtesy of Dr. Blank. Photos by Nerissa Johnson. Graphic from istockphoto.com.