Smile Makeover

A small change can make a big difference.

A retired nurse, Frances Allen knows what qualities to look for when it comes to finding a reputable and skilled dentist.
“My local dental office changed hands, and I was no longer satisfied with the care I was receiving,” she explains. “I wasn’t happy with my smile. I had some discoloration along the top in the front, and I grew tired of looking at it. I was always smiling with my lips, never showing my teeth. When I asked them for a plan to fix things, they always put me off.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Frances no longer hides behind her smile.

In addition to the discoloration of her teeth, Frances says she was waking up with jaw pain almost daily.
“I was grinding my teeth at night, which was causing other issues with my bite,” Frances adds. “I decided I needed to find a dentist who could create the makeover I always wanted.”
Frances read an article in Florida Health Care News about Stephen G. Blank, DDS. Dr. Blank practices cosmetic and functional dentistry in Port St. Lucie.
“From everything I read in the article, his patients seem to love him, and that was important to me,” Frances relates. “I want a dentist I can talk to and who truly cares enough to listen.”
She made an appointment to see him. Initial Exams
Dr. Blank conducts a thorough examination on new patients to determine their dental needs and develop a custom treatment plan, just as Frances had wanted.
The 1.5-hour exam includes a complete oral examination, including TMJ, bite and soft-tissue evaluations; computerized periodontal measurements, digital x-rays, an intra-oral video tour that allows the patient to see what the dentist sees, an oral hygiene evaluation and more.
“The goal is to build a solid dental relationship that allows each patient to achieve the best oral health possible and, with proper care, maintain that level of health for a lifetime,” assures Dr. Blank. “It’s not your typical five-minute dental exam.”
“It was the most thorough dental exam I have ever received,” Frances confirms. “I had a one-on-one meeting with Dr. Blank in a very relaxing atmosphere. He discussed my x-rays, talked about what I was facing and presented all of the different options. He made me feel comfortable. He wanted me to be sure about the decision I was about to make.”
Dr. Blank says crowns were the best option for Frances, given her history with grinding.
“I hated the shape of my teeth and the discoloration,” Frances continues. “A lot of them were uneven because of the grinding, so after talking with Dr. Blank, I took his recommendation and chose to proceed with crowns.”

Crowning Achievement

During Frances’ diagnostic visit for the crowns, Dr. Blank designed the size, shape, color and position of the restorations. Models of her teeth and photographs of her mouth were taken and sent to the lab for a wax-up.
“With Frances, we did what we call a smile design visit where we take measurements of the teeth and follow that with a full series of photographs. We then did a mock-up of the teeth with some temporary resin so we could guide the lab to create the results that we wanted.
“From that smile design visit, we ordered a wax-up of the teeth that fulfilled Frances’ cosmetic need. That way, Frances was able to see how her teeth would look in the end.”
On her next visit, her teeth were prepared for the placement of the new restorations. Impressions were then made for the lab, and temporaries that match the wax-up were created.
Following that second visit, Frances left Dr. Blank’s office with resin temporaries. This allowed her to wear an example of her new smile home, like a test drive.
“The temporaries give patients the opportunity to see how their new smile will look,” educates Dr. Blank. “At the temporary stage, changes can be made, such as adding a bit of length or a little curvature or a slight reduction. We give the lab instructions on coloring, translucency and brightness. Then, the teeth are scanned and digital images are sent to the laboratory. In most cases, scanning has replaced the need for the gooey rubber impressions.”
Dr. Blank assures that today’s products provide durability and longevity to patients, with great aesthetics for a natural smile.
“Dental aesthetics have come a long way from when I was in dental school,” Dr. Blank says. “Today’s crowns are made of all-ceramic porcelain materials, so ten years from now, if the gumline shrinks at all, Frances will not see a dark area above the top of the crown, which often occurs with crowns made with metal components. Today, products are created for longevity and with better aesthetics than ever before.”
A final aspect of Frances’ treatment plan was the creation of a bite guard to protect her teeth from further damage from her nighttime grinding.
“The bite guard takes the beating, so to speak, so that her new crowns do not suffer any damage,” Dr. Blank explains. “And her jaw will no longer ache when she wakes up each morning.”
Frances says she is pleased with how well her bite guard has improved how her jaw feels.
“No other dentist ever recommended a bite guard before,” Frances says. “That is just one example of how Dr. Blank goes the extra mile to make sure all bases are covered. The bite guard works great, and I have no more morning jaw pain.”

Connecting with Patients

Dr. Blank emphasizes that an important aspect of his success as a dentist is his relationships with his patients.
Dr. Blank, who has been practicing in Port St. Lucie for more than 32 years, stresses the importance of delivering customized, personable care to all of his patients.
“I want people to understand all of their options and be educated before making any decisions,” he emphasizes. “Every patient is different, and not every option is going to fit well with every person. I do my very best to understand a person’s long-term wants and needs.
“I give them eye contact and explain to them from start to finish what to expect, and I hold nothing back,” he says. “I’m honest because I know that is what people want in a dentist. Honesty and integrity, both of which I strive to bring to the table.”
Frances says Dr. Blank is more than a dentist; he’s a true professional.
“He’s not just a stuffed shirt,” she says. “He’s very personable and is interested in you as a person. His staff is very professional, also.
“I don’t hide my smile anymore!”

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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