Safe and Secure

Retired insurance agent Joel Lustgarten is a native of New York City. While in college at the University of Miami, he met his wife. He’s been in Florida ever since. While living in Sarasota a few years ago, he decided his long-term dental issues needed to be resolved. There was just one problem: At the time, he didn’t like dentists.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Dr. Gaukhman and his kind staff have helped Joel overcome his fear of dentists.

“I’m seventy-one years old, but I’m a big baby, particularly with dentists,” admits Joel. “But I needed a lot of work done because, when I was a kid, my dentist was my stepfather’s brother, and he put a lot of crowns in my mouth.
“That was about fifty-five years ago and, of course, nothing lasts forever. Well, a few years ago, the crowns started breaking off. I also broke one tooth and had an abscess in another.
“I didn’t have pain so much, but I had trouble chewing. It was hard to eat steak and roast beef. Not that I didn’t eat them, but it was difficult, so I decided I had to take care of these problems.”
Joel knew he required quite a bit of dental work to restore his teeth and smile. Because he was not a fan of dentists, he sought one who was experienced with fearful patients. A friend recommended Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, of Venetian Dental in Sarasota. Dr. Gaukhman, who offers outstanding general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, also has offices in Venice and Osprey.
“I started going to Dr. Gaukhman in 2016,” Joel relates. “He was the kind of dentist I was looking for, because he helped settle my fears. As part of his personality, he doesn’t make a big deal over anything. He’s calm and says, Don’t worry. We’re going to take care of this and make sure you’re happy.
During his consultation appointment with Dr. Gaukhman, Joel told the dentist to start work on his upper teeth because they were worse than his bottom teeth. After discussing options, the dentist
recommended a denture that is measured, created and fitted in a single appointment.
“Dr. Gaukhman gave me alternatives, including a removable bridge or dental implants,” states Joel. “After hearing about implants, I decided to make the commitment and go with them. He put four implants in my upper jaw and gave me a temporary denture. He’s going to give me the permanent denture at my next appointment.
“The day after that appointment, he’s going to put implants in my bottom jaw and let them set in my jawbone. When I go back after those implants have taken, he’ll finish up the work. There’s going to be a permanent bridge on the bottom.”

Palate Pleasers

“Joel’s main concern when he first came to the office was with his upper teeth,” verifies Dr. Gaukhman. “They were in poor condition and failing, and there was infection in some of them. They weren’t worth saving.
“I suggested removing all of his upper teeth and placing a denture. When he agreed, I immediately took an impression of his teeth to shape the denture. We did the extractions and placed the denture immediately. When the denture is placed right after extraction, it acts as a splint and cuts down on bleeding and swelling.
“We were able to save many of Joel’s lower teeth, so I’m making a bridge for his bottom jaw. We decided to put a few implants on the bottom to make that bridge more secure.”
Implants are screw-like posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone to serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, such as crowns and dentures. When they’re secured by implants, dentures don’t slip or move; they stay in place when patients speak and eat.

Implant secured upper denture

Upper dentures generally don’t require implants to remain stable, reports 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,” describes 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.
“Joel’s initial denture was a traditional denture, but he decided he wanted a higher quality of life. He didn’t want the denture to cover his palate, so we placed four implants in his upper jaw. That gave us leeway to make a new denture without a palate.”
Implant-retained lower dentures are generally secured with two implants, notes Dr. Gaukhman. For upper dentures, however, the dentist typically uses four implants.
“It’s due to gravity that I can use two implants on the bottom but need four on the top,” he explains. “Dentures have to work with or against gravity. Lower dentures move down with gravity, so two implants are sufficient. Implant-retained upper dentures have to work against gravity without the help of suction, so four implants keep them more secure.”

Long-Distance Respect

When Joel’s friend recommended Dr. Gaukhman, he had no idea what a great find it would turn out to be. Joel’s grateful for the patience and care the dentist and his staff take with him and how they help him through his treatment despite his anxiety.
“From the beginning, I thought Dr. Gaukhman was a really nice guy,” Joel comments. “Another thing I like is that he uses a team approach with his patients. The staff is excellent and obviously trained by Dr. Gaukhman. Going there is a nice experience. I rate it between very good and excellent.”
With dental implants, Joel’s upper denture feels more secure. It also feels extra comfortable, which improves his quality of life. Joel also feels secure with Dr. Gaukhman. He finds that the dentist’s personal approach, as well as his light and smooth touch during the entire restoration process, further helps him work through his dental phobia.

“[Dr. Gaukhman] was the kind of dentist I was looking for, because he helped settle my fears.”-Joel

Joel’s treatment is not yet complete, but he’s happy with the work Dr. Gaukhman’s done to this point. He likes his upper denture and feels much more confident when he smiles.
“I’ve gotten compliments on my smile,” he enthuses. “I don’t want anyone to know what I had done, but when I get compliments, I know Dr. Gaukhman did a good job. I’m very, very pleased. I can also eat steak and roast beef now without difficulty. I really have no limitations on what I can eat.”
Last June, Joel moved from Sarasota to Singer Island in Palm Beach County. Few things take him away from his life on the beach, but one of them is his dentist. Joel is so pleased with Dr. Gaukhman that he kept him as his dental provider even after relocating.
“Now, I get in my car and drive back to Sarasota to see Dr. Gaukhman,” he relates. “For my last appointment, I left Palm Beach at 4:30 in the morning and got to his office for my 9:00 appointment right on time.
“Not only do I recommend him, I’m also willing to travel back and forth five hundred miles just to see Dr. Gaukhman at Venetian Dental.”

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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