A Haven For Lost Smiles

Comprehensive restoration plan restores confidence, function, pride.

Somewhere deep down inside of Steven McPherson, there’s a filmmaker trying to get out. A comedian, too.

Steven has tried both, creating a handful of short films, including an opus to his father’s collection of mango trees, and twice taking the stage for open mic night at a local comedy club. Of the two, filmmaking seems to be where Steven’s heart lies.

“I devote almost all my free time to amateur filmmaking and photography,” says Steven, who spends his days working as a welder assembling tow trucks. “I’ve even made a couple of videos of the process we follow at work because it’s pretty interesting.

“The basic trucks come from places like Detroit, Canada or Mexico, and all the tow truck parts come in a kit that’s made at plants in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Once we have all the pieces, we assemble it. So right now, I’m what’s known as a vehicle outfitter.

“But whenever I can, I’m making amateur independent-type films. I did one about my father, who has about 40 mango trees around his house in Boca Raton. There’s a story behind every one of them, so I made that for him for Christmas.”

Steven has quite a story to tell about himself. He is, after all, a cancer survivor, having twice defeated Hodgkin lymphoma, which he first contracted 20 years ago while in high school. For years, though, Steven bore scars from those battles.

“While going through my treatment, I became sort of depressed and really let my dental hygiene go,” Steven shares. “I was actually scared to go to the dentist, so I didn’t see a dentist for a number of years. During that time, a lot of problems got a lot worse. 

“When I finally did go back to the dentist, there was a form that they had me fill out. One of the questions was, How do you feel about your smile? I wanted to answer honestly so I wrote down, I’m ashamed of it.

“I wrote that because my teeth were so bad that I didn’t want to go out and meet people because if they said, Hi, and I said, Hi, back, their eyes would go right down to my teeth, and they would get this concerned look on their face.

“A lot of friends were telling me back then that I needed to do something, but I was like, Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I kept putting it off until it got so bad that I couldn’t sleep anymore because of all the throbbing pain I was in. That’s what sent me to Dr. Fatmi

Damage Control

Naved Fatmi, DMD, is the founder of Health and Wellness Dentistry group, which has locations in Boca Raton (Regency Court Dentistry), Boynton Beach (Town Square Dentistry) and Lake Worth (Lake Worth Dentistry).

Dr. Fatmi came highly recommended by several of Steven’s friends, including a couple who work as dental hygienists. Steven knew why after his initial appointment with Dr. Fatmi.

“I walked away from that first visit feeling a whole lot better because Dr. Fatmi really put me at ease,” Steven relates. “He said there was a lot to do, a lot of damage control, but that we’d get through it. Then he put together a treatment plan for me.”

The plan was quite extensive. It called for repairs to Steven’s gums, which were riddled with disease, as well as repairs to nearly a dozen teeth, some of which were cracked, broken or decayed.

To create a healthy foundation for the restoration, Dr. Fatmi began with a thorough debridement of Steven’s teeth and gums. He then turned his attention to the broken, cracked and decaying teeth.

The few that were simply decaying received fillings. The others were repaired and capped with crowns. One tooth, an upper right premolar, could not be repaired with a crown; it was pulled and replaced with a dental implant.

Dental implants are root-shaped, screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. Once the implant is in the jaw, new bone naturally grows around it to form the foundation for an abutment and replacement teeth. The replacement can be a crown cemented or screwed onto the abutment, a partial bridge affixed to one or more implants, or a full denture fastened to a series of implants.

Prior to placing an implant, some patients require a bone graft designed to enhance the volume of the jawbone so it can properly support the implant. This is often the case with patients who have been missing teeth for an extended period.

“The reason grafts become necessary in patients who have been missing teeth for a long time is because bone mass deteriorates when there is no pressure from chewing to stimulate natural bone regeneration,” Dr. Fatmi educates.

Confidence Builder

Though he had not lost the tooth, Steven required a bone graft for the extracted premolar because of advanced decay into the jawbone. The graft and implant typically need between three and six months to heal, but Steven felt their impact immediately.

“As soon as they did the bone graft, I felt things really firm up inside my gums,” Steven reports. “After that, I felt very confident that everything Dr. Fatmi was doing was going to work out really well.

“And I was right. I started all of this just before the (COVID-19) pandemic hit, so it took me a little longer to do everything, but we finished up just before Christmas last year. I could not be happier with the results.

“Dr. Fatmi and his staff did a great job. The implant feels great, and the crowns they fit me with look fabulous. They look better than my original teeth, so I’m not afraid to smile anymore. In fact, I’m proud to show off my smile now.”

Steven came away from his experience with more than a sense of pride. He says he also received an invaluable education on how to better care for his teeth and gums and is gladly putting those practices to use.

“I’m doing a much better job of flossing and brushing regularly, and they explained to me the benefits of using an electric toothbrush, so I’m doing that, too,” Steven offers. “I’m doing everything Dr. Fatmi and his staff taught me, and it’s got me feeling a lot better.

“I know now that when I brush and floss, I’m doing something that’s good for my overall health, so I don’t look at it as an annoyance at all. I’m happy to do it because, in the end, it’s going to save me a lot of problems and a lot of money.”

After years of avoiding the dentist, Steven says he has finally found a good dental home. He adds that he highly recommends Dr. Fatmi to others, just as his friends did with him.

“I consider Dr. Fatmi a friend,” Steven enthuses. “He’s a really good guy, he always makes you feel comfortable, and he does great work. And his staff is great, too. Everyone is very gentle and considerate. I’m very lucky to have found them.”

Dancing for Joy 

Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit, so after a nearly 40-year hiatus, Robyn Green resumed taking dance classes a few years back. In addition to ballet, which she studied for several years as a youth, Robyn enrolled in a Zumba class.

 “I was dancing about 10 hours a week and was absolutely loving it,” Robyn shares. “Then COVID hit.”

As with so many things, the pandemic soon brought an end to Robyn’s dance routine. But she recently reenrolled in those classes and is slowly regaining the fitness level she reached before the music stopped.

“I’m getting there, but it’s not as easy because I’m also working part time now,” Robyn offers. “I recently took a job with Seniors Helping Seniors®, where I’m helping people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s very rewarding.”

Robyn, 73, recently required some assistance with a health issue of her own, a dental concern that dates back many years.

“My mother lost all of her teeth when she was in her 30s, and I think I inherited a lot of the same problems because I’ve had a lot of dental issues,” Robyn explains. “I’m not sure I’ve always done a good job of looking after my oral health either.

“I did all the basics the best I could, but I still had a lot of problems and eventually lost several teeth. Once I lost all those teeth, I lost my desire to smile because I was too embarrassed.”

Robyn soon became depressed and reclusive because of her teeth. For nearly two years, she rarely left home and stopped socializing with friends. During that period, her poor oral health triggered yet another health concern.

“Because I had lost so many teeth, there was only one area in my mouth where I could chew, and even then it was very painful,” Robyn concedes. “That wound up leading to a lot of other problems with my general health.

“The most serious was that I was getting a lot of infections and really just feeling ill all the time. I later learned that the problem was that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients and things because I couldn’t chew my food and digest it properly.”

After learning that her general health issues were largely due to her inability to chew and digest food properly, Robyn visited a dentist where she obtained literature about advanced dental care. A week later, she found herself in dire need of that care.

“I woke up one morning with this horrible toothache,” Robyn reports. “I was in so much pain that I knew I had to do something right away, so I went back to the dentist office I visited a week earlier, which was Regency Court Dentistry.

“I was very fortunate that they took me in right away, and I’ll never forget when Dr. Fatmi walked into the exam room; the vibe that he brought was so good that I immediately felt like everything was going to be all right.”

Following a thorough examination, Dr. Fatmi determined that the cause of Robyn’s intense pain was an infection in one of her remaining teeth. Soon after, Dr. Fatmi presented Robyn with a treatment plan to correct that problem and several others.

“Before visiting Dr. Fatmi, I had never received a treatment plan from a dentist,” Robyn notes. “All anyone ever did was what I would call patchwork dentistry. They’d fill a cavity or something and move on, and that was it. 

“So just the fact that Dr. Fatmi offered me this treatment plan told me that I was dealing with someone different, someone who really cared about his patients and was willing to do whatever he could to help them.”

Forever Grateful

Following a brief discussion, Robyn accepted Dr. Fatmi’s plan, which began with the extraction of the infected tooth. Dr. Fatmi then replaced that tooth with a dental implant – all in one visit.

“That whole thing took about 10 minutes,” Robyn says of the extraction and placement of the implant. “And it didn’t hurt at all. I was sitting there kind of waiting for the pain to come, and the next thing I know is Dr. Fatmi is telling me, That’s it, we’re all done.”

That first meeting with Dr. Fatmi occurred last December. Since then, Robyn has been fit with several implants and temporary crowns. She’s confident that within a few months she’ll have the functional, attractive smile she’s long wanted.

“For so long, I thought I was someone with no hope,” Robyn offers. “I had lost so many teeth and the dentists I visited didn’t seem to be able to do much for me. Then I met Dr. Fatmi, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

“Dr. Fatmi is not only a great dentist, he also is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. And everybody in his office is the same. They’re all so no nice and caring and personable. It’s just amazing what they’ve done for me.” 

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings

Photos by Jordan Psyz

As seen in South Palm Beach edition of Florida Health Care News


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    • Health & Wellness Dentistry

      Health & Wellness Dentistry has three convenient locations in South Florida and provides a full scope of dental care services that include cosmetic dentistry, comprehensive dentistry, restorative dentistry, emergency dental care, plus muc... Read More

    • Naved Fatmi, DMD

      Naved Fatmi, DMD, is a highly trained general, restorative and cosmetic dentist who received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Society, Florida De... Read More