Straight Ahead

Clear braces put final touch on life reformation project.

Travis Thames was studying law at Florida State University and was already drinking excessively when a knee injury he suffered during a wakeboarding accident sparked an addiction to painkillers that altered his career path.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Travis has straightened out his teeth as well as his life.

“I was in and out of trouble for a good couple of years after getting hooked on the painkillers, and when I finally got clean and sober, I actually went to work at a substance abuse treatment center myself,” Travis explains.
“I worked my way up from weekend technician to therapist to director of an intensive outpatient program. I then opened up a few halfway houses, and now, I’m doing my own thing as the CEO of a substance abuse center here in Port St. Lucie.”
Now 46, Travis is proud of the way he has straightened out his life. He’s equally proud of the work he’s done helping others straighten out their lives. For years, he wished he would have done the same with his teeth.
“It’s not like my teeth were ever super problematic,” Travis says. “It’s just that I never had braces as a kid and so my teeth have always been a little crooked. It’s something I always wanted to take care of; I just never got around to doing it.”
Travis was still procrastinating on that project a little more than a year ago when he learned that a business associate was getting her teeth straightened by a dentist whose office is close to his. She recommended Travis check him out.
That dentist is Stephen G. Blank, DDS.
He practices cosmetic and functional dentistry and willingly embraces leading-edge technologies as part of his commitment to providing the best care possible for his patients.
“When Travis first came to us, his teeth were very crowded, and because of that crowding, his bottom front teeth have worn irregularly – to the point where the biting edges on them are no longer ideal,” Dr. Blank explains.
“That’s a problem that would become more apparent once his teeth were straightened, so Travis and I agreed on a plan that includes doing a mini-makeover, but the first part of that plan was to align his teeth and get them in a more functional position.”

First Things First

To achieve the primary objective of straightening Travis’ teeth, Dr. Blank suggested Travis do what his friend did and wear Invisalign® clear braces, which use a series of transparent, plastic aligners to straighten crooked teeth.
Invisalign clear aligners do the same job as metal braces, but they are made of a hard plastic that makes them virtually invisible. They’re also removable for easy home care.
Treatment starts with modern scanning of the teeth, which eliminates the need for gooey impressions. The scans are then uploaded to Invisalign for aligner fabrication.
Each plastic aligner is designed to be worn day and night for approximately two weeks, but patients are advised to take them out when eating, drinking or brushing their teeth. At the end of each two-week period, the aligner is changed out for a new one.
The entire length of time a person needs to wear Invisalign clear aligners and continue changing them out depends on how misaligned the patient’s teeth are at the beginning of the treatment. It’s typical for many patients to finish within a year, but cases can vary from six months to two years depending on the patient’s overall tooth alignment prior to care.
“For some patients, we still have to go a little longer, depending on the movements we’re trying to achieve,” Dr. Blank notes. “That’s up to the doctor, based on his education and experience, because some movements happen rather quickly while others take a little more time.”
After completing the series of aligners, patients are advised to wear an Invisalign retainer at night. Travis, who began wearing his Invisalign aligners a little more than a year ago, is now wearing his retainer and says he couldn’t be happier with the results.
“The experience was awesome,” he enthuses. “No one even knew I had the aligners in unless I told them, and the aligners are painless and easy to get used to. After a while, you don’t even remember that you have them in.
“I mean it when I say I couldn’t be happier with the results, because my teeth are perfectly straight. I have a perfect smile now, which I love. I honestly could not be happier. I love the way my teeth look.”

A Great Experience

Travis’ makeover is not complete. He still has to correct the irregular wear problem he has with his lower front teeth. He’s also in need of some other general maintenance work, but he intends to get all of that done, and Dr. Blank will do the work.
“Dr. Blank is just awesome,” Travis exudes. “He’s a really great dentist and very personable. He’s very professional, and he’s a really good guy – easy to talk to and he gives you very realistic expectations.
“Everything he told me during my first visit with him – from the price to the way my teeth would be transformed – was one hundred percent accurate. There were no surprises along the way, and he didn’t try to hit me up with any kind of sales technique or anything like that.
“He was very straightforward, and the office staff is just amazing. They are very accommodating with my schedule, and they’re all very friendly. It was just a great experience all the way around.”

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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