Signature Smile

Woman’s restored smile shines on daughter’s special day.

Wendy Felton is a dedicated mother and doting grandmother, but during her working years, she was also devoted to assisting low-income, first-generation American students in accessing college. She led workshops and seminars for students across the country and often spoke publicly on the issue. She even authored a book on the subject.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Wendy Felton

“I fell into my path while raising my own kids,” Wendy describes. “I got a position helping other people’s kids when I obtained a grant through the US Department of Education’s Talent Search program. I also wanted kids to have a comprehensive guide on how to get into college that they could use after I retired and died. That was the motivation behind my book.”

Retirement for Wendy, a New Jersey native who moved to Florida in 2018, came a few years ago, but not before she went through some serious personal struggles that included undergoing three brain surgeries. During that stressful time in her life, Wendy also began grinding her teeth at night.

“The grinding got so bad that my dentist could see horizontal grooves in my four front teeth,” Wendy shares. “My dentist filled in the grooves, and we thought my teeth were repaired, but ten years later, those four teeth broke off.

“My smile is my signature, especially with public speaking. I lived in Atlanta for a while, and people there nicknamed me Sunshine because I was smiling all the time. They said, When you smile, you bring in the sun with you.

“But when I looked at my teeth in the condition they were in, I was embarrassed. I tried to cover my mouth. I was also embarrassed that I didn’t have dental insurance to cover the cost of the dental work that needed to be done to repair my smile.”

To make matters worse, Wendy was a longtime soda drinker. Her dentist told her the acid intake from the soda had erased most of the protective enamel from her teeth, which deteriorated them even further.

It was a problem that was only exacerbated by Wendy’s favorite comfort food – hard pretzels. With the protective enamel all but gone, Wendy’s teeth began to break whenever she ate the pretzels.

At that point, Wendy could no longer avoid the problem with her teeth. She knew she had to take action to repair her teeth and restore her smile. She was particularly concerned because a very special event was coming up, and she wanted a bright smile to show off to her friends and family, and for photos.

“My daughter was graduating from law school in May 2019, and I wanted to be able to smile,” she elaborates. “I wanted to have my teeth right so that I had a good smile. I was also going to see family members who hadn’t seen me with my bad teeth, and I refused to be embarrassed.”

Restoration Recommendation

As Wendy set about looking for a dentist to restore her smile, she took note of one dental practice that was close to the mall in Melbourne where she often shops. That practice was Implant Dentistry of Florida. She decided to see what the practice had to offer, and it was there that she met with William S. Vaughn, DMD.

At Implant Dentistry of Florida, Dr. Vaughn works alongside Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, to provide a full range of dental services. They perform cosmetic and general dentistry as well as all phases of dental implant surgery and smile restoration. Just what Wendy needed.
“I went to Implant Dentistry of Florida about a month and a half before my daughter’s graduation,” Wendy relates.

“Dr. Vaughn had such a wonderful, friendly and loving spirit that I knew right away that I was in the right place.”

“My new dentures are gorgeous. They look so natural, you’d never know I had dentures. . . . I feel so good about smiling now.” – Wendy

“When Wendy first came to us, she had several broken teeth and generalized wear and tear that tends to occur over time,” Dr. Vaughn notes. “We decided that it would be in her best interest to remove her teeth and replace them with full dentures. That way, she would no longer have any teeth maintenance and she would get a complete smile restoration at the same time.”

“My teeth were in horrible condition,” Wendy reports. “At first, I thought, I like dental implants. I need to find out how much it will cost to get implants. I discovered that getting dental implants in my whole mouth would be a huge job. We talked about partials, but
Dr. Vaughn recommended pulling all of my teeth and giving me full-blown dentures.

“I explained my situation to the staff at Implant Dentistry of Florida. I told them that I didn’t have dental insurance and would be paying for my treatment out of pocket. They were wonderful and worked with me so I could get the dental work done.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Wendy is proud to show off her new smile for grandson, James.

Denture Designs

Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Brown sometimes recommend using a few dental implants to better support a patient’s denture, but Wendy had enough bone support in her jaw so that her dentures would fit well on their own, so no implants were necessary.

Wendy had her teeth extracted and her dentures placed on the same day. The dentures were made in advance from an impression that was taken of Wendy’s mouth and sent to a dental laboratory.

“From that impression, the laboratory fabricated custom pieces that we used to take final impressions and establish Wendy’s bite, which showed how long her teeth were going to be, and how the dentures would fit together” Dr. Vaughn explains.

“Once we had Wendy’s final impression and bite registration, we returned that to the laboratory. With it, we sent shade information, which Wendy chose, a photo and other information she gave us about how she wanted her teeth to look. The laboratory then fabricated the dentures based on those specifications.”

“When Dr. Vaughn told me I could have any teeth I wanted in the dentures, I started looking at people’s teeth on TV and taking pictures,” Wendy says. “My sister and I look a lot alike, and her teeth are gorgeous. They’re so white and bright, so I submitted a picture of my sister and said, Now, they can call us twins.

The photo Wendy submitted provided Dr. Vaughn with a clear guideline to follow when restoring Wendy’s smile to its former grandeur. He is extremely pleased that the dental lab was able to recreate the smile Wendy wanted.

“Our laboratory did a wonderful job of matching the size and shape of Wendy’s teeth as well as the custom shade she chose,” he observes. “We were able to work ahead of time to produce the final cosmetic appearance that Wendy was looking for, and she is very pleased with her new smile.”

When this step was completed, Wendy was given an opportunity to examine the dentures to ensure they met her standards and that she was satisfied with them. Only then did Dr. Vaughn remove her existing teeth and place her dentures.

“The immediate dentures, the ones we place right after the teeth are extracted, actually serve as bandages,” Dr. Vaughn informs. “They cover up the extraction sites and encourage the gum tissue to heal to the shape of the underside of the dentures.

“Later, we made some adjustments to Wendy’s dentures that almost always have to be made during the healing process. Usually, there is a point when the dentures have to be relined because the gums and bone recede as they heal. In those cases, we simply reline the dentures with acrylic so that they tighten up and fit again. But all the teeth remain the same.”

“When Dr. Vaughn told me he was going to pull all of my teeth in one day, I thought, I don’t think I can handle that,” Wendy says. “But when he actually pulled the teeth, I didn’t feel anything, not even any pressure. I couldn’t believe it.

“I didn’t even know he was finished until he said, Okay, all done. We’re going to fix you up with your dentures now. He popped in the dentures and told me to leave them in overnight until the swelling goes down, then come back and get them fitted.”

Being Sunshine

Wendy is thrilled with her restored smile, and she’s extremely happy that her dentures turned out exactly as planned. She likes that people can’t tell that her teeth are dentures, and in some cases, she chooses to keep it that way.

“My new dentures are gorgeous,” Wendy raves. “They look so natural, you’d never know I had dentures. The teeth are just right, not too big or too small. The family members I was trying to hide from didn’t even know I had dentures. I was talking to my pastor’s wife, and she said, They’re dentures? Are you sure? They look so real.

“My niece, her husband and their kids don’t know I have dentures. My son and daughter-in-law know because they were there with me when I was getting them. My one-year-old grandson looks at me strange when I pop out my teeth. He must think, She looks like me.

“I feel so good about smiling now. I feel that I can be Sunshine again with my smile, and I feel good about that.”

Dr. Vaughn noted that dental implants weren’t necessary in Wendy’s case to support her dentures. Suction from the roof of her mouth is sufficient to keep her upper denture solidly in place, with very little wiggle room.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Dr. Brown and Dr. Vaughn with the Implant Dentistry of Florida staff.

“My bottom denture just goes over the row of gums where my bottom teeth were,” Wendy explains. “On the bottom, I simply put a little adhesive on the front of the denture and on the sides. That allows me to eat pretty much anything, although I do cut up my food a little smaller. But I can even chew my hard pretzels now without my teeth breaking.”

Not only did Dr. Vaughn and his staff provide Wendy with natural-looking dentures that restored her smile, they were able to meet her deadline. Wendy’s smile was ready in time for her daughter’s May law school graduation. Wendy is grateful to the dentist and his staff for their efforts, as well as her outcome.

“My daughter thinks my dentures look fantastic,” Wendy says. “She’s so happy I had them done because she didn’t want pictures of her graduation without me smiling.

“Everyone at Implant Dentistry of Florida was so loving and wonderful, and they all remembered my daughter’s graduation. Last week, I went to the office and took them a picture of me and my daughter at the graduation, and I was smiling.

“I recommend Implant Dentistry of Florida to anybody, and not just for dentures but for any adult dentistry needs. My son and daughter-in-law didn’t have a dentist, and I told them, You’ve got to go to this practice, so now they go there, too.

Dr. Vaughn and the staff at Implant Dentistry of Florida are phenomenal. I recommend them in a heartbeat.”

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    • Implant Dentistry of Florida

      Dr. Clark Brown and his team at Implant Dentistry of Florida are committed to providing you with excellent dental care in a warm, comfortable setting. They provide the latest techniques in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and general ... Read More

    • Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS

      Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, is board certified by the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Geo... Read More

    • William S. Vaughn, DMD

      William S. Vaughn, DMD, earned his undergraduate degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College and his Master of Science degree in Oral Biology and Doctor of Oral Medicine degree from the University of Louisville. Dr. Vaughn has participated in c... Read More