Solid Foundations
Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Dr. Vaughn brought the smile back
to Artis’ face.

Creating healthy attractive smiles.

For most of her career, Artis Sham, 72, worked in insurance. The Pennsylvania native relocated to Florida in 1972, and before long formed the first all-female management team at Combined Insurance®. Later, Artis administered the workers’ compensation program for 3,000 McDonnell Douglas employees at Kennedy Space Center®.

“Before that, I was at SNS Enterprise as an insurance consultant for three hundred employees,” Artis relates. “I managed the casualty, liability and workers’ comp programs, as well as three pensions.

“After working at Kennedy Space Center, I switched gears. I became the manager of Patchington Boutique in Cocoa Beach. I later became director of Patchington, then I retired.”

Artis devoted the first few years of her retirement almost exclusively to caring for her sick husband, who passed away in November 2018.

“My husband was ill for several years before he died, and during the time I cared for him, I neglected myself, especially my teeth,” Artis explains. “Eventually, they got so bad, I was embarrassed to smile.

“There were a lot of stains on my teeth, and they were quite dark. The dental work I’d had done previously didn’t hold up. I developed cavities around the fillings in my teeth, and a bridge literally fell out of the top of my mouth.

“I knew I needed major dental work, so I saw two dentists in Cocoa Beach. One was an oral surgeon who had worked on me in the past. He suggested I go to another dentist who is well-known in Cocoa. That dentist recommended I visit Implant Dentistry of Florida.”

When Artis arrived at Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne, she met with William S. Vaughn, DMD, who works alongside Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, and Kim N. Doan, DMD, 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.

At first, Artis was hesitant to plan her smile restoration due to a longstanding fear of dentists that was compounded by her concern over the possible pain associated with the dental procedures. Dr. Vaughn and his staff at Implant Dentistry of Florida provided answers to both concerns.

“You have to understand how scared I was of dentists,” Artis states. “When I was a kid, I bit the dentist, and he called my father and said, Take her out of here and never bring her back. But Dr. Vaughn was so nice and gentle. He turned out to be what I consider a friend, a confidant, someone I can tell my problems to, and he will fix them. He is wonderful.

“Both dentists in Cocoa Beach knew of my fear of needles and pain. I went through tremendous pain from previous back surgery and had little pain tolerance left, so I was petrified of dental work. That’s why the dentists recommended I get my work done at Implant Dentistry of Florida – because it’s the only practice in Brevard County that could sedate me to do the work.”

“When Artis came to see us, she was missing a few upper teeth, and the teeth that remained had cavities and were loose or broken,” Dr. Vaughn describes. “She did not like the way they looked, and she had difficulty eating. Her lower teeth were in better condition, although the front few were stained and dark. She did not care for their appearance.

“We determined her upper teeth were not salvageable, so we made the decision to remove them and place dental implants and a fixed bridge to replace them. This would give her a stable appliance that resembles her natural teeth. We also agreed to place crowns on her lower teeth to improve their appearance.”

Implant Information

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Artis Sham

“Dental implants are small, threaded metal posts that resemble screws,” Dr. Vaughn describes. “They are made of titanium, so the body does not recognize them as foreign objects.

“The dental implants are placed at strategic locations in the jaw to act as a solid foundation for the replacement teeth, which could be a crown to replace a single tooth, a bridge to replace multiple teeth or an entire arch of teeth. Implants can also be used to stabilize loose dentures.”

Once the implants have been placed in the jaw, bone naturally grows around them to form a secure foundation. Known clinically as osseointegration, this process is similar to what happens with joint replacements, and it typically takes three to four months to complete.

In order to place dental implants, there must be adequate bone mass in the jaw to hold them securely. Bone mass deteriorates with tooth loss because there’s no pressure from chewing to stimulate bone regeneration. If there’s not enough bone, dentists typically place grafts to support the thinned bone.

“When teeth are removed, the bone tends to get thinner and shorter,” Dr. Vaughn explains. “But there has to be enough bone present to accommodate the implant. We need to have a few millimeters beyond the size of the implant to ensure it will be fully encased in the bone after healing.

“Artis did not require extensive bone grafting. At the time of her procedure, she had teeth in her mouth, so her bone mass was sufficient. When we extracted her teeth and placed the implants, we used a small amount of bone just to fill in any gaps around the implants.”

Dr. Vaughn’s plan for Artis was to fit her with a 12-tooth bridge. To support a bridge that size, he placed six dental implants in Artis’ jaw. Prior to doing so, he accommodated her wish to be sedated for the procedure.

“I assured her that we can perform implant surgery with little discomfort using local anesthesia, but we accommodated her wishes and sedated her for her surgery nonetheless,” Dr. Vaughn confirms.

“He sedated me, and if I started to become too aware while he was working on me, he increased the medication,” Artis says. “Dr. Vaughn even talked to my cardiologist in person to make sure it was alright to work on my teeth.”

Once her implants were placed, Artis needed about four months for the jawbone to grow around them. She was then fit with her permanent 12-tooth bridge.

“While she waited, Artis wore a conventional denture,” Dr. Vaughn notes. “I believe that experience reinforced her desire for dental implants. Conventional upper dentures are held in place by suction, but they have a tendency to slip and move when people eat and speak.

“With dental implants, we attach the appliance to the bone so it does not move and is fully stable. Now, she has a very pretty and secure smile.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Riccardo had a great experience at Implant Dentistry of Florida.

All in the Family

Riccardo Billi, 55, left his native New Jersey to pursue business opportunities in Florida. Following his relatives’ example, he purchased a mobile home community, which he sold last year when he retired. He didn’t give up property ownership entirely, though. He simply scaled down his involvement to suit his retirement lifestyle.

“Two of my uncles moved to Florida about ten years before I did,” Riccardo states. “They started buying properties and did very well. They owned one mobile home community together, sold it and doubled their money. Then they each bought their own community.

“When I sold my mobile home community, I had to reinvest the money, so I bought five homes all within a mile of my house to rent out. I started a corporation, and all five homes are under that corporation. I use a management company to manage the homes, but overseeing the corporation is essentially what I do now.”

As a property owner, Riccardo knows the importance of maintaining his properties and keeping them up to municipal codes. He wasn’t as vigilant about maintaining his teeth and recently faced the prospect of needing to reconstruct his smile. He points to a period in his early childhood as the commencement of his poor dental health.

“When I was four years old, I contracted whooping cough,” he explains. “I was very sick and almost died. Apparently, I was overmedicated with antibiotics, and my dentist said that ruined the enamel on my teeth. I got my first root canal at age twelve, and it was a horrible experience. For years after that, you couldn’t get me near a dentist.”

“My overall experience at Implant Dentistry of Florida was great. With Dr. Brown, I had no fear at all.” – Riccardo

Over time, the condition of Riccardo’s teeth deteriorated further, compounded by his distaste for dentists. But in 1996, while living in New Jersey, it became necessary for him to face his fear, and he underwent a significant amount of dental work.

“I had some teeth extracted and seven root canals,” Riccardo remembers. “My dentist also made four bridges for the top of my mouth and two for the bottom. The dental work was very expensive, thousands of dollars. I was working for the New York City Transit Authority at the time, and that was a lot of money for us.”

Unfortunately, Riccardo’s investment depreciated over the years. Because he smoked cigarettes for a long time, a habit he’s now quit, and drank coffee, his dental work became stained and unattractive. But those aesthetic issues were the least of Riccardo’s problems.

“After I moved to Florida, a couple of my bridges fell out,” he reports. “But I didn’t replace them right away. I decided to have my teeth redone when I sold the mobile home community. My uncle went to Dr. Brown, and he did an excellent job on my uncle’s teeth, so I decided to go to Dr. Brown as well.”

Amazing Process

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Riccardo Billi

Upon first seeing him, Dr. Brown performed a thorough evaluation of Riccardo’s dental health and determined his remaining teeth

were unsalvageable. The dentist recommended removing the remaining bridges, extracting the teeth and replacing them with implant-secured fixed bridges. It would be the complete smile reconstruction Riccardo needed.

“Riccardo came to us with natural teeth that were failing and existing bridges that were faltering, but we were able to extract his teeth, place the implants and secure his temporary bridges during one sedation visit,” Dr. Brown observes.

“We can often secure temporary fixed bridges on the day of implant surgery when the entire arch of teeth is being replaced since they will all be attached to the same bridge. That helps the implants support each other.

“There are several reasons why we might not install the final bridges on the same day. The main reason is that the bone and gums remodel during the healing process. It becomes more difficult to get the final bridges to look and fit perfectly if we don’t wait for this remodeling to occur.”

During Riccardo’s implant surgery, Dr. Brown placed six implants in the upper arch and four on the bottom arch. Two of the implants placed in the upper arch were implanted at an angle, not straight up and down. Dr. Brown says this isn’t unusual when creating a full-arch bridge.

“Typically, posterior implants are put in at an angle when they will be securing a restoration that is fixed in place, meaning it is not removable except by a dentist,” Dr. Brown explains. “Angled implants give fixed bridges the most support with the fewest number of implants and support the bridges evenly from front to back.”

“The Prettiest Smile”

Once the implants’ osseointegration period is completed, the final restorations can be placed on top of them. In Riccardo’s case, only three months were needed before Dr. Brown could create and insert his final bridges.

“Now, I have my permanent bridges, and I love them,” Riccardo raves. “They look great. They look very natural, and I have no problems chewing with them.”

The same holds true for Artis.

“While I was waiting for my final bridge, I couldn’t eat beef,” she states. “But my permanent bridge is like an upper plate without the plastic over the roof of the mouth, so I can taste food perfectly. And it looks like my own natural teeth, only pretty.”

Artis is amazed by the dental work she received from Implant Dentistry of Florida and by Dr. Vaughn’s proficiency in creating her new bridge.

“My bridge is a full upper, and it’s screwed in,” she reports. “Dr. Vaughn put the screws in, and they grew into my jawbone and became permanent. Then, Dr. Vaughn attached the bridge. He was so accurate.

“Dr. Vaughn also gave me five caps on the bottom because my lower teeth were stained. After my treatment at Implant Dentistry of Florida, I have the prettiest smile I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

In addition to reconstructing Riccardo’s smile, Dr. Brown also alleviated Riccardo’s misgivings about dentists. The retired property owner is now a regular patient at Implant Dentistry of Florida. Riccardo fervently endorses Dr. Brown and his practice.

“My overall experience at Implant Dentistry of Florida was great,” he enthuses. “With Dr. Brown, I had no fear at all. I was a little anxious before the implant surgery, but he told me what to expect, so it wasn’t that bad.

“I have no complaints at all about Dr. Brown and his staff. Dr. Brown is genuinely a nice guy. He’s a gentleman and very pleasant to be around. He was very gentle and made me feel comfortable. I definitely recommend him.”

Dr. Vaughn and the staff at Implant Dentistry of Florida improved Artis’ feelings about dentists as well. She says Dr. Vaughn’s gentleness makes her feel comfortable and puts her at ease, and the staff’s friendliness makes her feel welcomed.

“Every single person in that office smiles,” Artis comments. “They’re happy. They’re eager to greet me and answer my questions. They’ve done things for me that are beyond belief. They’re just a wonderful, friendly group of people to deal with.

“At Implant Dentistry of Florida, I went from being terrified to being delighted.”

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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

    • Kim N. Doan, DMD

      Kim N. Doan, DMD, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Biology from the University of North Florida and completed her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at Nova Southeastern University in 2015. A former resident of Brevard County, Dr. Doa... 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