Straighten Up

Both young and old can benefit from Invisalign®.

Appearances tend to change as we age. Glancing in the mirror, you may notice fine lines setting in or gray hairs multiplying.

Patricia Homa underwent Invisalign® to straighten her teeth under the care of Dr. Stephen Blank in Port St. Lucie.

Patricia is happy with the results of her Invisalign treatment.

When Patricia Homa looked in the mirror in recent years, she wasn’t happy with the image smiling back at her.

“I had braces as a child, back in my middle school years, and I was thrilled with the results that were achieved with my teeth back then,” she recalls. “But, I noticed recently that my teeth started shifting a lot. There were large gaps forming between teeth, and the overbite I had as a young kid seemed to be coming back.

“I’ve always taken care of my teeth and have been diligent when it comes to cleanings, so when the movement started to happen, I was willing to do anything to get them back to normal, even if that meant wearing metal braces again.”

A full-time caregiver for her elderly mother, Patricia says she started looking for a dentist close to home.

“My dentist at that time was an hour drive away. With taking care of my mom all day, I just could not do that anymore. I needed someone closer.

“One day, luckily for me, I read an article in Florida Health Care News about Dr. Blank, and I thought I would give him a try.”

Patricia made an appointment to see Stephen G. Blank, DDS, in Port St. Lucie.

Make a Plan

Before any treatment plan began, Patricia underwent in-depth testing and evaluations performed by Dr. Blank and his staff during her initial visit. The 1.5-hour exam included a complete oral examination, including TMJ, bite and soft tissue evaluations; computerized periodontal measurements, digital x-rays and more.

“It’s not your typical five-minute dental exam,” relays Dr. Blank. “The purpose is to build a good dental relationship for years to come that will allow patients to achieve the best oral health possible and, with proper care, maintain that level of health for a lifetime.”

Dr. Blank’s willingness to embrace the latest leading-edge technology is further indicative of his commitment to care and investment in each patient.

“We’re always learning and implementing the latest technologies and procedures to ensure our patients receive the best possible oral health,” he assures.

Align Right

After her evaluation and consultation with Dr. Blank, Patricia opted for Invisalign, a system that works to straighten teeth over a period of months using a series of virtually invisible, removable, plastic aligners.

“In Patricia’s case, we used Invisalign Express, which doesn’t take as long as the regular Invisalign,” Dr. Blank explains. “Her case was less complicated, so it involved just twenty weeks of aligners. In comparison, the traditional Invisalign treatment plan can take between twelve and eighteen months.”

Invisalign works in stages, and patients get a new set of customized aligners about every two weeks. Each set gradually moves the teeth to the specifications prescribed by the dentist.

“When we prescribe Invisalign, we treat the top and bottom because they fit together like the gears on a watch,” he explains. “If we need to make room for crowded bottom teeth, we need to move the upper teeth just a bit as well.”

Compared to more traditional orthodontics, Invisalign doesn’t require metal or porcelain brackets, or wires, which can irritate lips and gums. The aligners are removable and virtually invisible, so patients can continue to eat their favorite foods and practice proper oral hygiene.

“Patients love Invisalign because they can take the aligners out when they eat, and when they brush and floss. It’s much easier to perform those everyday tasks than with traditional braces,” Dr. Blank says.

Perfect Smile

Dr. Blank stresses that though many cosmetic dental procedures help patients’ smiles look better, Invisalign is also instrumental in improving function and preventing further dental damage.Patricia Homa underwent Invisalign® to straighten her teeth under the care of Dr. Stephen Blank in Port St. Lucie.

“Patricia was a grinder and she also clenched her teeth at night,” Dr. Blank shares. “With those two habits combined, especially, there is bound to be movement with the teeth. And, those two habits can also cause extensive damage.”

Left untreated, misaligned teeth can lead to long-term dental damage.

“When teeth are rotated or moved, they bump into each other differently than they would if they were properly aligned,” explains Dr. Blank. “People don’t notice it because it’s their bite. It’s what they have always had, and they are used to it.

“When we’re able to make the teeth fit together properly, functionally they don’t cause each other to wear out. They work in harmony instead of in conflict with one another.”

Dr. Blank stresses the importance of wearing retainers after orthodontic treatment.

“Whether it’s traditional braces or Invisalign, it is vital that patients understand retainers are for life,” he explains. “They must wear their retainers every day, and most patients prefer to sleep with them on, in order to maintain the teeth in a specific position. For Patricia, nighttime wear is best as this will stop her from grinding and clenching her teeth.”

Dr. Blank says treatment with Invisalign is appropriate for patients of all ages, from teenagers on up. “There’s no age restriction on doing Invisalign,” he says. “The only caveat is that the patient has healthy bone structure and a good overall dental foundation that supports tooth movement.”

Patricia says she has a lifelong appreciation for straight teeth.

“I’ve always been aware of my smile since I was a young child,” she shares. “When I got older and I saw them moving and becoming crooked and overlapped, I immediately knew I had to fix them.

“I am blessed to have found Dr. Blank. He is caring and is never pushy about anything. I actually look forward to going to his office! His staff is great, too. I think he does great work!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Stock photo from
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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