Worth the Time

Commitment to providing expert dental care

In her native New England more than 30 years ago, Jeanne Miller had a cyst removed from her mouth and lost five good teeth in the process. She had a partial denture placed in her mouth to take the place of the teeth that were removed. Over the years, that partial never really sat well with her.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Jeanne has been a loyal patient of Dr. Leong’s for years.

The partial was causing the roof of her mouth to become inflamed and red. It was quite painful.
“It was uncomfortable, and I never felt secure with it,” Jeanne recalls. “I started researching dental implants and was intrigued by everything I read about them. In 1986, my husband and I moved to Florida, and I started looking for a dentist who placed implants. One of the two dentists I found was Dr. Leong.”
Richard Leong, Jr., DDS, is a general and implant dentist who practices comprehensive, full-treatment dentistry, including full mouth reconstruction.
When he initially examined Jeanne, Dr. Leong discovered she suffered from temporomandibular joint disease, or TMJ.
“This occurs where the joints connect to the jaw. There was clicking where her upper and lower jaws met,” Dr. Leong explains. “If I did not correct that first, she would have continued to have jaw issues and eventually even gum issues.”
Dr. Leong says before he could proceed to place implants, Jeanne’s jaw joint problem had to be corrected, her gums needed to be healthy and her teeth in the correct positions.
Dr. Leong treated Jeanne with dental splints to correct her TMJ, and braces to straighten and position her teeth. In addition, he treated her gum disease with laser therapy in preparation for the implants.
“The bone had to regrow around those implants, so while that was healing, we did orthodontics on her to get her teeth straight and get them into the proper position.
“Now, her bite is stable and much more functional,” Dr. Leong says.
“Once we had the teeth in the proper position and the gums were healthy, I was able to move forward in determining her probability of receiving dental implants.”

Years of Neglect

Retired from the US Air Force after serving for two decades, David Smith says his oral health was something he ignored over the years.
“My wife, Theresa, started going to Dr. Leong several years before I did,” David shares. “Once she got established there, I soon followed.
“I was a smoker, so I had a lot of issues when I first went to see Dr. Leong,” he continues. “My gums were badly infected because I had neglected my teeth for so long. I also had several loose teeth. My mouth was not in good shape.
“It was difficult to eat, especially hard things, and it hurt to chew. I could do it, but it was slow and not very fun. That’s why I was considering implants.”
Dr. Leong began David’s treatment much like Jeanne’s.
“After examining David, I knew I had to start by cleaning up his gums, so we did gum treatment on him with a laser,” Dr. Leong describes.
“Once the gums were healthy enough, I created an upper denture. He had enough bone to secure that denture without implants.”
For nine years after receiving that denture, David says, he stopped going for his appointments.
“I was just real bad about going,” David relays. “I was a bad patient.”
After the nine years of further neglect, David returned to Dr. Leong.
“By the time I saw David again, his gums were a mess again because of the smoking,”
Dr. Leong says. “He had loose teeth. He could barely chew at all. He was faced with losing all of his bottom teeth because of decay.”
Because of David’s lack of consistent dental care and the condition of his gums and decaying teeth, he suffered substantial bone loss.
Upon the advice of Dr. Leong, David decided to have his bottom teeth removed and replaced with a denture.
“I made him a full denture for the bottom, and that one is supported by what is considered to be a mini implant. They are smaller-in-diameter implants, and are used when a patient doesn’t have much bone left,” Dr. Leong explains.

Multiple Implant Options

Dental implants are metal anchors implanted in the jawbone to hold replacement teeth. The root sits in the jawbone, below the gumline, and a crown, or other dental device, is attached to it.

Stock photo from istockphoto.com.

Denture is secured by dental implants.

“If all a patient needs is to get the denture to stay in place, smaller implants are ideal,” Dr. Leong continues. “They are typically for patients who do not need bone grafting done, like David. These smaller posts can hold single crowns, as well as a small bridge or partial denture. There are a lot of uses for these smaller implants if used correctly and if there is a sufficient amount of bone intact.
“When the process is completed with precision, people can retain the denture immediately. They can walk out of an appointment and the denture is securely in place. It’s amazing.
“There needs to be adequate bone, healthy gums and a proper bite first,” he stresses. “Patients need to have a proper overall environment in their mouth in order for implants to be successful. They also need the proper overall attitude about taking care of themselves and their teeth. They can’t just think that they can come in, get implants and never think about those teeth again.
“Furthermore, their medical health needs to be in check. They may have medical conditions that could preclude them from having long-term success with their teeth, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
“They need to be committed to follow-up care. Routine cleanings and exams are vital to maintaining the implants, as well as their overall oral health. These are an investment, and the patient needs to be invested in it for the long haul.”
Once Jeanne’s teeth were properly aligned and the implants were secure in the jawbone, Dr. Leong placed implant-supported bridges on both the top and bottom of her mouth.
Dr. Leong says he’s also had to repair some of the prior work Jeanne has had done over the years.
“It’s common to have to do some repair work over time,” Dr. Leong says. “Nothing lasts forever. Jeanne later developed acid reflux, which damaged some of her teeth. Because of that, I had to redo her lower right bridge. That was an original I had placed twenty-six years earlier.
“Jeanne has been a trooper over the years and a loyal patient. She’s had substantial work done to her smile, and she’s really come a long way. You name it, she’s had it done.
“Many patients who already have a denture have lost much of the bone in the jawline. This is a common problem. As the bone shrinks away, the shape of the mouth changes. Therefore, there is less suction, and they cannot hold their denture in their mouth.
“I’ve performed many of these implant procedures in Nicaragua, for example, where people line up to have them done because they want so badly to have their teeth stay in their mouths instead of falling out all the time. My job is very rewarding.”

Patient and Doctor Loyalty

For three decades, Jeanne has driven 40 miles each way from her home in Titusville to the office of Dr. Leong in Melbourne. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Her dedication to Dr. Leong and his practice stems from his commitment to provide top-notch care to his patients.
“I’ve had a lot of dental work done over the years, from bridges to crowns and everything in between,” Jeanne says. “Dr. Leong is like a good friend. He’s reliable, and I can talk to him about anything. We’ve developed that trusting relationship over the years.”
David says he is thankful to Dr. Leong for being professional and understanding, especially during the times he neglected his teeth.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

David takes much better care of his oral health nowadays.

“He never judged me; he just always wants to help,” David assures. “That is one of the qualities I admire about him. He cares more than any dentist I’ve ever been to.”
In his many years as a dentist, Dr. Leong has implemented many leading-edge advancements in implantology in his own practice. He has also personally developed new techniques.
“Because I teach other dentists how to perform dental implant surgery, I want to use the latest methods, procedures and techniques in our own offices,” he explains. “My office is equipped with all of the latest technology available. We are very high-tech, and I want to let everyone know that I do a lot more than just cleanings or fillings. I specialize in comprehensive dentistry.
“At this point in my career, I really enjoy helping people in different ways, either through my mission work, through teaching dentistry or working directly with the patient. I love having something to give back,” Dr. Leong adds.
Dr. Leong strives to provide patients with the latest advancements in dental procedures and technology, and patients are quick to notice.
“In all of the surgeries and procedures I perform, I use the latest techniques to improve healing by decreasing the amount of time it takes for a patient to heal and by minimizing any pain during the recovery period,” he notes. “I do a lot of research on the most advanced procedures, and I strive to incorporate those advancements into my practice every day.”

Everything Under One Roof

Because of the impact he is able to have on his patients’ health and comfort, comprehensive care is a cornerstone philosophy of his practice.
“We provide a comprehensive service so that, when patients come into the office, I am able to help them in all areas,” he explains. “As a result, they don’t have to travel to many different places to have their dentistry completed. The protocols keep improving, so techniques become faster and better. I specialize in comprehensive dentistry in order to meet the growing and changing needs of my patients. Their needs always come first.”
“Dr. Leong always has an open door,” describes David. “Even when I was gone for years, he never once turned his back on me. He’s fantastic!”
Jeanne says her teeth are in the best shape they have ever been in, and she is appreciative of Dr. Leong’s expertise and commitment to care.
“He’s the best there is, hands down,” she says. “He’s not just a dentist, he is a true friend.”

Print This Article