Secure Foundations

Implant denture advantages over traditional lower dentures.

Peter Benbow, 67, emigrated from his native England to the United States in 1991. He originally settled in Fort Lauderdale but later relocated to Port Charlotte. He moved after retiring from his construction and home remodeling business. There were good reasons Peter chose Florida as his new home.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Peter Benbow

“I decided to move to the States because I was ready for a life change,” he acknowledges. “The weather in Florida was a huge factor in my choice of place to live and, of course, there was no language barrier.

“I spent most of my time in the Fort Lauderdale area, but then it became too overpopulated. My wife and I decided we wanted a more quiet and relaxing atmosphere, and Port Charlotte fit that description. Plus, my wife had family here, so we made the move.”

Peter always liked to work with his hands. In England, he labored in the electrical and plumbing business, so when he came to the US, it seemed a natural progression for him to move into construction.

“Obviously, I wasn’t going to be doing much work in the heating business in Florida, so my business just morphed into interior remodeling,” Peter describes. “Now, in retirement, I’m doing some remodeling and redecorating of our house in Port Charlotte. The house was built in 1989, so it’s a little dated and needs some work.”

Having always been self-employed, Peter found health and dental insurance too costly for his bottom-line point of view. As a result, Peter tended to neglect his health, especially his teeth. His neglect caught up to him last September.

“My teeth were definitely suffering,” Peter admits. “Then one day, I woke up with a severe toothache. The pain was terrible, so my wife said, You’re going to the dentist. She went online to find an emergency dentist that would see me and found Dr. Gaukhman. His office was a good 30-mile drive, but he could get me in, so off we went.”

Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, at Venetian Dental in Venice, offers exceptional general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry as well as emergency dentistry. He also has offices in Sarasota and Osprey.

“When I first examined Peter, he already had an upper denture,” the dentist reports. “But his lower teeth were decayed and infected by periodontal disease. The infection also affected his bone. Peter’s teeth were not worth saving, so I recommended extracting them and replacing them with a lower denture secured by dental implants.”

“Dr. Gaukhman told me it wasn’t healthy for my teeth to be in the condition they were in and that, because of their poor condition, there wasn’t much he could do with them,” Peter recalls. “He recommended removing them and doing the implants and denture. At that time, I already had an upper denture for going on 15 years.”

Not Designed for Dentures

Dentures are often used to replace natural teeth that are lost due to tooth decay, gum disease, infection or injury. In most cases, upper dentures fit securely because the palate enables the creation of sufficient suction to hold the appliance in place. That was the case with Peter, whose upper denture fits just fine and does not wobble or move.

“Lower dentures are often more difficult to stabilize,” Dr. Gaukhman observes. “The lower jaw is not designed for dentures because there is no palate, due to the location of the tongue, and less suction is produced. As a result, lower dentures tend to slip and slide.

“It is rare when people can wear lower dentures that do not bother them or stay tight without help. That is why securing a lower denture with dental implants is the most effective way to stabilize it and why I recommended two implants to secure Peter’s lower denture.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Peter says he made the right choice in choosing Venetian Dental.

Dental 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 secured by implants, dentures don’t slip or move; they stay in place when people speak and eat. There are other advantages of implant dentures over traditional dentures.

Dentures secured by implants have stronger chewing capability than traditional dentures, so patients can eat foods they could not eat previously, improving their quality of life. In addition, the added stability provided by implant dentures offers patients better speech, better aesthetics and greater self-confidence.

Implants are made of a titanium alloy that fuses with the patient’s jawbone to become a solid unit. For most patients at Venetian Dental, implants are placed on the day of tooth extraction. Temporary dentures are also created at that time, typically at Venetian Dental’s in-house dental laboratory.

“In general, once the patient’s problem is diagnosed and the treatment is determined, I take impressions of their teeth,” Dr. Gaukhman informs. “When the temporary dentures are ready, which is usually on the same day or the next day, I extract the teeth and put the dentures in right away.

“The dentures act as a bandage to stop bleeding and limit swelling, and for the next three to six months, I keep the patients in temporary dentures until the implants fuse and the gums heal. Then, I replace the temporary dentures with the permanent appliances. Using temporary dentures means patients are never toothless while waiting for their finished dentures. All in all, it is a relatively easy, painless process.”

Quality of Life

To be fit with dental implants, patients must have sufficient bone mass in their jaw to hold the implants securely. But bone mass can become depleted when teeth are missing because there is no longer pressure on the jaw from chewing to keep it actively building new bone.

For patients with depleted bone, Dr. Gaukhman has two options. One is to use mini implants, which are smaller in diameter than standard implants, to secure the lower dentures. The other is to perform a bone graft, which is what he did for Peter.

“The advantage of using mini implants is that the patient heals faster, so treatment can be finished quicker,” Dr. Gaukhman relates. “In addition, we can use mini implants in patients who are medically compromised.

“I’m very happy with my new lower denture. . . . With [it], I’m not afraid to smile, because there are no more gaps in my teeth.” – Peter

“Implant-retained lower dentures are generally secured with two implants,” Dr. Gaukhman adds. “When we secure upper dentures with implants, which we recommend in certain cases, we typically use four implants because they have to work against gravity.”

Implant dentures can be fabricated to fit one of two ways: to be fixed or removable. There are pros and cons to both options, Dr. Gaukhman states.

“Removable dentures snap on and off the implants,” he describes. “They can be made and fit relatively quickly. The patient can remove the teeth, clean them with a toothbrush and put them back in the mouth within minutes. They are easier to maintain than fixed dentures. I made a removable denture for Peter.

“Fixed dentures, on the other hand, stay in the mouth at all times. They take much longer to fabricate and are harder to clean. They must be cleaned by professionals. But because they can only be removed by a dentist, they are more secure.”

Adjustment Period

The process of restoring Peter’s lower jaw began in September, and by February, he had his permanent lower denture. He recently went to Venetian Dental to receive a slight adjustment to the denture so it fits as comfortably as possible.

“It takes some time for the denture to settle into the gums,” Peter states. “When it was first fit, it rubbed a little, so I went back to Venetian Dental and Dr. Gaukhman adjusted it, and the rubbing went away. Now, I just snap it into place and I’m good to go.

“I’m very happy with my new lower denture. It’s a lot better than a denture without implants. One of the best things about it is that, with this denture, I’m not afraid to smile, because there are no more gaps in my teeth.

“Before, I made the most I could of my smile. I always thought, It is what it is. But now, I don’t even think about not smiling. And my wife is quite happy with the way the denture looks, too. She says it’s a definite improvement over what I had, and I’m a lot nicer to look at.”

Tropical Paradise

Donna Kiehl and her husband built a successful nursery business from a collection of bromeliads just large enough to fill a kitchen table. Today, they fill orders for the tropical flowering plant from all over the world via mail order and sell them from a store on the couple’s Venice property.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Donna Kiehl

“We’ve been selling bromeliads and other tropical plants for about 35 years total,” Donna shares. “We started the business in St. Petersburg but moved it to Venice when we went there to purchase a bromeliad collection. As it turned out, the property in Venice was also for sale, and we ended up buying it as well.

“It all started because my husband has had a love for bromeliads since he was young. He saw one on his parents’ property and was fascinated with the plant and its bloom. He researched bromeliads and how to grow them, then started collecting them.”

Donna, 63, who hails from Warminster, Pennsylvania, about 13 miles north of Philadelphia, relocated to Florida when she was 12. As an adult, Donna was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. The most common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth. The dry mouth negatively affected Donna’s oral health.

“Because of the dryness in my mouth, my teeth started to go bad, and I started to lose them,” she relates. “That’s pretty much what happens with Sjögren’s. I didn’t have enough saliva to protect my teeth. I was told that, eventually, all of my teeth would go bad.

“My gums were receding as well, and it looked awful. My teeth were turning color, and I hated looking in the mirror and hated smiling because my smile was horrible. So, I looked into getting a dentist who would remove my teeth and give me dentures.

“I received a copy of Florida Health Care News in the mail, and in it were a couple of interviews with people telling their stories about working with Dr. Gaukhman. That’s how I found him and decided to go to him.”

“I’m very happy with the outcome of my treatment at Venetian Dental. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate my experience a twenty!” – Donna

“Donna came to us believing that her teeth were unhealthy and probably not salvageable,” Dr. Gaukhman remembers. “I confirmed that it was not worth the time and expense to try to save them. We agreed that the best option was to extract her failing teeth and replace them with dentures. After that, she would not have to worry about her teeth for at least five years.”
“Initially, Dr. Gaukhman pulled my upper teeth and made a denture for the top,” Donna recalls. “We did the top in January 2018. We waited to do the bottom because those teeth weren’t quite ready to come out. But they were starting to turn as well.

“And before long, my bottom teeth began to break. Having no saliva made them go bad sooner than anticipated. But we waited to do the bottom until I got a cavity in the front and it started hurting. That was in July of last year.

“When Dr. Gaukhman created my bottom denture, he put in the dental implants and fit me with the temporary denture right away. I got my permanent denture in November. I just snapped it in.”

“They Look Awesome”

With her treatment completed, Donna relates that she’s thrilled with the dentures Dr. Gaukhman created for her at Venetian Dental.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Donna is thrilled with her new smile.

“I love them, absolutely love them,” she raves. “They look awesome, and my smile is great. I get compliments all the time on my teeth, my smile and how happy I look now. And the Sjögren’s doesn’t bother the dentures at all.

“My treatment was successful, and I recommend implant dentures to others in situations similar to mine. And I most definitely recommend Dr. Gaukhman. In fact, I have already recommended him to a friend who was having issues with her teeth.”

Peter’s treatment was successful as well. He’s extremely pleased with the outcome of his treatment at Venetian Dental. He’s also pleased that the treatment process met his financial requirements.

“It came down to what was affordable for me,” Peter says. “I could have gotten a full set of implants with an implant for each tooth, but a lower denture with two implants was more affordable. I have no regrets.”

Although Peter met Dr. Gaukhman in an emergency situation, he was impressed enough to stay with the dentist to receive his implant treatment and lower denture.

“Dr. Gaukhman and his staff were very good and caring,” he reports. “I’m very happy with the choice I made to go to Venetian Dental. I absolutely recommend them to others with dental needs.”

“I’m very happy with the outcome of my treatment at Venetian Dental,” Donna concurs. “On a scale of one to 10, I would rate my experience a 20!”

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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