Picture Perfect

Precise planning restores youthful smile.

As a child growing up amid the majestic mountains and medieval castles of post-World War II Transylvania, Ilona Gal was the only girl among her six siblings. That, though, was not the only reason the native Romanian stood out from her five brothers.

lona Gal turned to Dr. Blank to restore the beautiful smile she had during her younger years.

Ilona has regained the smile of her youth.

At a time and in a place where dental care was nearly as archaic as much of the region’s architecture, Ilona was blessed to have grown up with what she described as a perfect set of teeth and a gorgeous smile.

“Oh, it was beautiful,” Ilona, now 74, says of her smile. “People where I grew up used to say to me all the time, You have such a pretty smile. I was always very proud of how perfectly straight my teeth were and how beautiful my smile was.”

Ilona, who moved to the United States in 1977, kept her beautiful smile until she was well into her 30s. As she aged, though, her smile faded badly as her teeth began to brown, erode and in some cases fall out, in part because a bridge she was fit for during the early 90s failed.

By the time Ilona retired and moved to Florida in 2012, that ill-fitting bridge on the upper left side of her jaw was destroying one of its supporting teeth, most of her other teeth were failing and a large gap had formed between her two bottom teeth.

A few years later, Ilona began looking for a dentist who could restore the smile she once had as a child. She eventually found one she liked while reading an article about Stephen G. Blank, DDS, in Florida Health Care News.

“The article was about a Chicago woman who had something wrong with her bite and had a lot of pain and Dr. Blank fixed it,” Ilona remembers. “I thought he might be able to do the same for me, so I decided Dr. Blank would be my dentist.”

Action Plan

During his initial examination of Ilona, Dr. Blank discovered that a lot of her dental issues were the byproduct of missing teeth and that ill-fitting bridge, which resulted in Ilona having an irregular posterior bite.

“She had what we refer to as a posterior bite collapse, where there is not as much support between the teeth that hold the jaws apart,” Dr. Blank educates. “What happens in a situation like that is, when your teeth come together, your muscles just keep squeezing, and the teeth get pushed.

“That’s why her bottom teeth had drifted apart and why she ended up with a space on the bottom arch between the two front teeth. It looked like she was missing a tooth there, but there was no missing tooth. Everything had just drifted apart.”lona Gal turned to Dr. Blank to restore the beautiful smile she had during her younger years.

Restoring the smile of Ilona’s youth was a challenge that required a great deal of planning because there was a lot that had to be corrected. In addition to correcting her bite, Dr. Blank also needed to place crowns on many of the teeth that were salvageable and replace those that were not salvageable with fixed bridges.

The treatment program began with Ilona and Dr. Blank deciding on a plan of action that both agreed would include Ilona being fitted with two implants that would support a new bridge on the upper left side. The first step in the process, however, was a design visit during which Ilona made a key contribution.

Ilona arrived at that meeting carrying a pair of decades-old photographs. One was taken the day she became engaged to her future husband back in Romania. The other was taken the day she was married. Both carried proof that, when she was younger, Ilona did indeed have a beautiful smile.

“The design visit is where we do all of our preparations for the case to go to the laboratory, so it was very helpful that Ilona shared those old photographs with us. That allowed us to see the size and shape of her teeth when she had that beautiful smile,” Dr. Blank informs.

“We, of course, shared those photographs with the people at our laboratory, where my own photographs and measurements are used to create a wax-up that shows what the teeth will look like and how they’ll fit with her lips and cheeks once they’re done. It’s my job then to match what we get back from the lab.”

While the laboratory did its work, Dr. Blank did some routine repair work aimed at improving the health of Ilona’s gums. She was then sent to an oral surgeon, who seated the two implants that would hold the new bridge she would receive for the upper left side of her jaw.

During the six months Ilona needed for her implants to heal, Dr. Blank repaired the other areas of her smile. That work included creating a three-tooth porcelain bridge designed to fill the gap that had formed between her two lower front teeth.

“The bridge has three teeth that fit on top of the two teeth that were near the space, so there’s a fake tooth right in the middle,” Dr. Blank reveals. “Now, Ilona actually has one more tooth than most people have, even though it looks like she has a regular full and happy smile.”

One Step at a Time

Dr. Blank performed his work in segments, preparing all the teeth that required crowns on the bottom arch in one visit before fitting the crowns in the next visit. He then repeated the process for the teeth on the upper arch. Finally, Ilona was fit for the bridge on the left side of the upper arch.lona Gal turned to Dr. Blank to restore the beautiful smile she had during her younger years.

“I think it’s important to minimize the impact of the work,” Dr. Blank offers. “That’s why, when necessary, we prepare a lot of teeth in one visit and deliver the teeth in the next visit. That way, even if we’re working on ten teeth, the patient doesn’t have to make dozens and dozens of visits.”

Ilona would have gladly made a dozen visits if that’s what was required to get her old smile back. She was thrilled, though, that while the work she had done took months to complete, it was completed in only a few visits and far exceeded her expectations while meeting her hopes and dreams.

“The work Dr. Blank did is gorgeous, just gorgeous,” Ilona raves. “He was right on the money with what I wanted. Everything is perfect. My teeth look beautiful, and the bite is perfect. It’s like I have my old teeth back again.”

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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