Tropical Paradise

Implant denture has advantages over traditional lower denture.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Donna Kiehl

Donna Kiehl and her husband built a successful nursery business from a small collection of bromeliads about the size of a table. Today, they fill orders for the tropical flowering plant from all over the world via mail order and sell them from a store on the couple’s Venice property.

“We’ve been selling bromeliads and other tropical plants for about thirty-five years total,” Donna shares. “We started the business in St. Petersburg but moved it to Venice when we went there to purchase a bromeliad collection. As it turned out, the property in Venice was also for sale, and we ended up buying it as well.

“It all started because my husband has had a love for bromeliads since he was young. He saw one on his parents’ property and was fascinated with the plant and its bloom. He researched bromeliads and how to grow them, then started collecting them.”

Donna, 63, who hails from Warminster, Pennsylvania, about 13 miles north of Philadelphia, relocated to Florida when she was 12. As an adult, Donna was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. The most common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth. The dry mouth negatively affected Donna’s oral health.

“Because of the dryness in my mouth, my teeth started to go bad, and I started to lose them,” she relates. “That’s pretty much what happens with Sjögren’s. I didn’t have enough saliva to protect my teeth. I was told that, eventually, all of my teeth would go bad.

“My gums were receding as well, and it looked awful. My teeth were turning color, and I hated looking in the mirror and hated smiling because my smile was horrible. So, I looked into getting a dentist who would remove my teeth and give me dentures.

“I received a copy of Florida Health Care News in the mail, and in it were a couple of interviews with people telling their stories about working with Dr. Gaukhman. That’s how I found him and decided to go to him.”

Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, of Venetian Dental in Sarasota, provides exceptional general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry as well as emergency dentistry. Dr. Gaukhman also has dental offices in Venice and Osprey.

“Donna came to us believing that her teeth were unhealthy and probably not salvageable,” Dr. Gaukhman remembers. “I confirmed that it was not worth the time and expense to try to save them. We agreed that the best option was to extract her failing teeth and replace them with dentures. After that, she would not have to worry about her teeth for at least five years.”

“Initially, Dr. Gaukhman pulled my upper teeth and made a denture for the top,” Donna recalls. “We did the top in January 2018. We waited to do the bottom because those teeth weren’t quite ready to come out. But they were starting to turn as well.

“And before long, my bottom teeth began to break. Having no saliva made them go bad sooner than anticipated. But we waited to do the bottom until I got a cavity in the front and it started hurting. That was in July of last year.”

Snap-On Convenience

In most cases, upper dentures fit securely because the palate enables the creation of sufficient suction to hold the appliance in place. That was the case with Donna, whose upper denture fits just fine and does not wobble or move.

“Lower dentures are often more difficult to stabilize,” Dr. Gaukhman reports. “The lower jaw is not designed for dentures because there is no palate, due to the location of the tongue, and less suction is produced. As a result, lower dentures tend to slip and slide.

“It is rare when people can wear lower dentures that do not bother them or stay tight without help. That’s why securing a lower denture with dental implants is the most effective way to stabilize it and why I recommended two implants to secure Donna’s lower denture.”

“I’m very happy with the outcome of my treatment at Venetian Dental. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate my experience a twenty!” – Donna

Dental implants are screw-like posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone to serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, such as crowns and dentures. When secured by implants, dentures don’t slip or move; they stay in place when people speak and eat. There are other advantages of implant dentures over traditional dentures, Dr. Gaukhman notes.

“Implant dentures provide added strength for biting and chewing,” the dentist observes. “And because the dentures are stable, the patient experiences better speech, better aesthetics and greater self-confidence. They do not have to worry that the denture will come out during dinner, conversation or activity.”

For patients who still have their natural teeth, Dr. Gaukhman can place the implants on the day he extracts the teeth. In most cases, temporary dentures are also created at that time in Venetian Dental’s on-site laboratory.

“Typically, once the patient’s problem is diagnosed and the treatment is determined, impressions are taken of the teeth,” Dr. Gaukhman explains. “When the dentures are ready, which is usually the same day or the next day, the teeth are extracted and the dentures are placed right away. When done this way, the dentures serve as a bandage to minimize swelling and bleeding.

“For the next three to six months following that procedure, the patient wears temporary dentures until the implants fuse with the jawbone and the gums heal. Then the temporary dentures are replaced with the permanent appliances.”

Implant dentures can be fabricated to fit one of two ways: to be fixed or removable. There are pros and cons to both options, Dr. Gaukhman states.

“Removable dentures snap on and off the implants,” he informs. “They can be made and fit relatively quickly. The patient can remove the teeth, clean them with a toothbrush and put them back in the mouth within minutes. They are easier to maintain than fixed dentures. I made a removable denture for Donna.

“Fixed dentures, on the other hand, stay in the mouth at all times. They take much longer to fabricate and are harder to clean. They must be cleaned by professionals. But because they can only be removed by a dentist, they are more secure.”

“When Dr. Gaukhman did my bottom denture, he went ahead and put in the dental implants,” Donna reports. “Then, he fit the temporary denture right away. I got my permanent denture in November. I just snapped it in.”

“They Look Awesome”

With her treatment completed, Donna reports that she’s thrilled with the dentures Dr. Gaukhman created for her at Venetian Dental.

“I love them, absolutely love them,” she raves. “They look awesome, and my smile is great. I get compliments all the time on my teeth, my smile and how happy I look now. And the Sjögren’s doesn’t bother the dentures at all.

“My treatment was successful, and I recommend implant dentures to others in situations similar to mine. And I most definitely recommend Dr. Gaukhman. In fact, I have already recommended him to a friend who was having issues with her teeth.

“I’m very happy with the outcome of my treatment at Venetian Dental. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate my experience a twenty!”

Print This Article
    • Venetian Dental

      Venetian Dental is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile. Their state-of-the art dental offices offer the latest in dental technology and patient amenities. They provide comprehensive treatment planning, and use r... Read More

    • Alexander Gaukhman, DMD

      Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, earned his dental degree at Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry, Ft. Lauderdale. He completed his undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Dr. Gaukhman is a diplomate of the Inter... Read More