Step Into The Future

High-tech, office-based system expedites crown creation.

Elaine Blanchard is no novice when it comes to dentistry. She worked in her husband’s dental office for 30 years before the couple retired. While her husband was the dentist, Elaine was the heart and soul of the practice, running the day-to-day business operations.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Elaine Blanchard

“I worked in my husband’s office with one other woman for all those years,” Elaine, 87, shares. “Then, my husband retired and we built a house at Lake Waterford Estates. He died a couple of years later. I met Ted Blanchard and remarried a few years later. Ted died five years ago. Now, I live with my miniature dachshund, Cleo.”

Over time, Elaine’s dental health began to deteriorate. Of particular concern was an upper front tooth that began to turn gray and some old, gold crowns she considered unattractive.

“When that front tooth of mine started turning gray, I would put my hand over my mouth when I smiled to hide it,” Elaine says. “I thought, What in the world is going on? So I started asking friends about a good dentist in the area.”

Several of Elaine’s friends recommended she visit Stephen P. Lester, DDS, at Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater. During her first visit to the practice, Dr. Lester conducted a thorough examination that revealed a number of problems.

“Elaine came to us in January, and her teeth were in pretty bad repair,” Dr. Lester recalls. “She had a number of old fillings that were decayed, broken and leaking, a few crowns that were broken, and a front tooth that was discolored and unhealthy.”

“I recommended a root canal for one of Elaine’s teeth, and she needed a number of other additional crowns, including one for the cosmetic tooth. I created those crowns using our computerized E4D system.”

Abundant Advantages

Crown being placed on tooth.

The E4D system employs computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. For years, CAD/CAM technology has been used to design and manufacture products such as machine and auto parts.

More recently, it was retooled for use in dentistry to meet a growing need for patient comfort and convenience. That fueled the development of in-office CAD/CAM systems such as the E4D system.

“The E4D system is a technology that creates porcelain restorations quickly and easily right in the dentist’s office, often in one visit,” Dr. Lester explains. “It can make dental crowns, inlays, onlays, veneers, even bridges.”

The system consists of three main parts: the computer system, the software and the milling machine. These parts work in concert to quickly create the finished restorations, which in Elaine’s case were crowns.

In treating a patient such as Elaine, Dr. Lester begins the process by using a high-tech laser to quickly and accurately scan the patient’s teeth into the computer. He then uses the E4D software to design the crowns.

The computer takes Dr. Lester’s design and prepares it for the milling machine, which cuts the restorations out of a block of porcelain. For Elaine, this process happened during the same appointment.

“For Elaine’s highly visible front tooth, I used a very attractive porcelain material called Empress, which has been in use for about 30 years,” Dr. Lester notes. “Empress is probably the most aesthetic porcelain available. It looks the most like real teeth of any of the porcelain materials available. And it’s extremely durable.”

Dr. Lester notes that using the E4D system to create dental restorations has abundant advantages for patients.

“For one thing, they do not have to put that messy goo in their mouths to make the impressions of their teeth because impressions are created digitally,” he informs. “And they do not have to wear temporary restorations, which always want to fall off at inconvenient times. They also do not have to return for a second visit because, typically, their restorations can be designed and fabricated in a day.”

Elaine was amazed by the technology Dr. Lester used in creating her crowns. She says nothing like the E4D system was available when her husband was practicing and agrees that it greatly expedited the treatment process.

“My husband used to have to send crowns away to be made, and his patients had to wait two weeks before they could get their finished crowns,” Elaine recalls.

“Dr. Lester makes crowns right in his office in a few hours. I go to his office for a 9 a.m. appointment, and I’m home before noon with a new crown. Dr. Lester is so up to date on today’s methods of dentistry. Everything is quicker than it was in my husband’s time.”

Dr. Lester’s modern approach is a byproduct of his commitment to ongoing education and advanced training. He can perform most required procedures so patients don’t have to travel to other providers.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Elaine, holding Cleo, is thrilled with how well the crowns Dr. Lester created for her turned out.

“There are times, however, if it is in the patient’s best interest, that I refer patients to qualified specialists for specific procedures and therapies,”
Dr. Lester acknowledges. “There is a group of specialists in the community I work with that I have vetted and know provide the highest quality patient care and treatment.”

It wasn’t necessary for Dr. Lester to refer Elaine to a specialist. He was able to complete her treatment plan himself, including her root canal. The ultimate goal of Dr. Lester’s treatment was to improve Elaine’s overall dental health.

“Elaine may be 87, but patients are never too old to achieve good dental health,” he observes.

“Good dental health contributes to good general health and helps people look good. And looking good makes them feel good, which makes them want to go on living and being active and healthy.”

“Brand New Teeth”

In all, Dr. Lester placed eight dental crowns, and Elaine is delighted with the results.

“I can’t believe how nice my crowns turned out,” Elaine enthuses, “especially compared to what was done 30 or 40 years ago when they used gold crowns. The crowns Dr. Lester made for me are white, and they look like real teeth. They look much better than the crowns I had before.

“Now, I’m happy to smile, and I get compliments wherever I go. People say, Elaine, you’ve got a beautiful smile. Dr. Lester did a very good job.
And there was no pain with his process. Whenever he numbed my gums, I didn’t feel a thing.”

Elaine is extremely pleased not only with Dr. Lester but also with his staff. She says they made her visits an easy, pleasant experience.

“Dr. Lester doesn’t dilly-dally. He gets right down to business,” Elaine describes. “He’s been a dentist for years, so he has a lot of experience. But he’s also very nice and friendly, and has a great personality. The way Dr. Lester conducts himself with his staff is special, and his staff loves him. He’s that kind of guy. He’s something else.

“Everybody at Park Avenue Dentistry is happy. In all the time that I’ve been here, since the 1950s, I’ve been to many physicians’ offices and worked with many staffs, but I have never worked with an office staff like Dr. Lester’s. They’re fantastic, and a lot of that has to do with Dr. Lester’s leadership.”

Beyond Dr. Lester’s professional responsibilities, he also helped direct the design of Park Avenue Dentistry’s interior. The office environment is set up to be relaxing and welcoming to help patients feel comfortable. Elaine thinks Dr. Lester achieved that goal.

“I’ve never seen an office like Dr. Lester’s,” she relates. “As you walk in, it’s just beautiful, and each room all the way down is neat and clean. When you’re sitting in the treatment room, you look out the back window and there are all kinds of waterfalls, as well as flowers and bushes. He even has TVs in the rooms that you can watch while he’s working on you. He thought of everything.

“I’ve never gone to a dentist like Dr. Lester, and I’m so glad to have him as my dentist,” Elaine adds. “And just like me, other people who go to him will never forget him. It’s absolutely wonderful to have a dentist like Dr. Lester in this town.”

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