Size Does Matter

Traditional dental implants restore proper function, enhance confidence

An adage dating back to the 16th century that says the shoemaker’s son wears no shoes suggests the family of a person with a favorable skill set or occupation is always the last to benefit from that person’s expertise or position.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Millie smiles with confidence now.

That adage held true through the 22 years Millie Conard spent running her own travel agency. Though the opportunity to travel was often presented to her, Millie was seldom in a position to take advantage of it.

“My daughter was little then, so that prevented us from traveling, and a lot of times when those perks were offered, you had to go right then and there or in the dead of winter,” Millie explains. “So we really didn’t travel as much we would have liked to.”

Millie eventually transferred out of the travel industry and into the medical field, where she now serves a team of doctors as a medical receptionist. A few years ago, she had to answer the call of a medical issue of her own.

The problem stemmed from an injury she sustained during an automobile accident in which her car caromed into a guard rail after it was hit from behind by a driver attempting to pass her on the interstate.

At the moment Millie’s car made impact with the guard rail, the air bag did not deploy. Millie’s mouth hit the steering wheel as a result, causing a bridge containing virtually all the teeth on the upper left side of her mouth to come loose.

After a couple of dentists attempted but failed to repair the bridge, Millie decided to get a dental-implant-supported upper denture, in part because she also had a partial on the upper right side and was tired of wearing two separate bridges.

Dental implants are root-shaped screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. A single implant supports an abutment and a crown, thus creating a new tooth. Two or more implants can support a fixed bridge or a full denture.

Implants are considered the gold standard for replacement teeth, but they didn’t work for Millie, because the mini-implants she was initially fit with were too small to provide the foundation necessary to keep the denture from moving when she tried to eat.

“I was miserable,” Millie complains. “I was so miserable I didn’t even want to go out and eat with people because my denture was always moving around. It’s pretty bad when you watch TV and you’re envious of someone just eating a potato chip.

“The other problem was that, because I couldn’t chew my food properly, I wasn’t able to digest my food properly. That was causing me not to feel good physically, so there were a lot of things going on all at once because of this.

“That’s the point I eventually got to about two years after the car accident. What made it even more frustrating was that the dentist who put the implants in eventually dropped me as a patient because she couldn’t fix it.

“Finally, I got so fed up one day that I literally got in the car and went to every dentist’s office I could find asking if someone could fix this problem for me. I even went out as far as Lakeland looking for someone to help me.”

Rescue Mission

It was after she visited about 10 dentists that Millie finally found one willing to take her on as a patient and resolve her problem. That dentist is C. Edgar Davila, DDS, MS, of Tampa Advanced Dental Solutions.

Dr. Davila is a board-certified prosthodontist, which means he specializes in the treatment and restoration of dental problems that are the result of missing teeth or damaged jaw structure, including temporomandibular disorders (TMJ/TMD).

Upon first examining Millie, Dr. Davila discovered that the reason Millie was initially fit with mini-implants was because her jaw bone lacked the volume necessary to support regular implants, which are slightly larger than mini-implants and therefore require a larger base.

“I tear up sometimes when I think about what Dr. Davila’s done for me. … I can’t tell you how many dentists I’ve been to, but there is truly no one else like him.” – Millie

c.The loss of volume in the jaw bone is a natural occurrence that takes place over time whenever someone loses one or more teeth. Without a tooth to support, the jaw bone deteriorates through lack of function. The longer a tooth is missing the more the jaw bone deteriorates.

In cases such as Millie’s, where there is not enough bone to properly support traditional implants, mini-implants can work, Dr. Davila emphasis, but a better option includes performing a bone graft procedure where a bone particulate is used to generate new bone growth that allows for traditional implants to be seated properly.

In many cases, the bone graft can be performed, and the patient can be fit with implants and a temporary crown, bridge or denture during one visit. After the implant has fused with the bone, a process that can take a few months, the temporary prosthetic is replaced with a permanent one.

New and Improved

That was the approach that Dr. Davila took in treating Millie, who had her old mini-implants removed, underwent a bone graft and received new implants as well as a full temporary upper denture in just one visit.

But Dr. Davila didn’t stop there.

He later replaced two failing bridges on Millie’s lower arch. In each of those cases, he used two implants to support two bridges made of zirconia ceramic, which offers better strength and aesthetics than standard porcelain bridges.

“The look of the zirconia ceramic teeth is closer to natural teeth,” Dr. Davila educates. “And there is definitely less wear with zirconia because it’s a stronger material. Those are the main advantages of zirconia: It’s stronger, more durable and it offers better aesthetics.

“And it was part of a major change for Millie. It had been several years since she was able to eat normally and smile with confidence, but now she can do all of that and she has no limitations on what she can eat.”

Almost immediately after receiving her permanent denture and lower bridges, Millie tested those limitations. Though she’s not much of a fan of apples, she says she bit hard into one just to test the stability of her new teeth.

“I wanted to try it to see if I could do it, thinking, if I can bite into an apple and nothing happens, I should be fine with eating anything,” Millie says. “So, I bit into that apple and I was just amazed. My teeth didn’t move at all.

“It’s literally like having real teeth again, because I can eat anything I want now. I got a part of my life back from these new teeth. And that’s why I so highly recommend Dr. Davila to everyone I know that has a dental problem.

“My whole family sees him now, and I want to add that he is the most compassionate man in his field. He’s actually one of the most compassionate men I know. I consider him to be among the highest order of angels.

“I tear up sometimes when I think about what Dr. Davila has done for me. He’s just so wonderful, and he has hands not of gold, but platinum. I can’t tell you how many dentists I’ve been to, but there is truly no one else like him.”

 

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