Beekeeper Gets A New Smile In A Snap

Dentures secured by locators to existing roots provide natural look and function.

During the 44 years that Madelyn Beers spent working as an engineer, she played a role in the development of some of the world’s most advanced technologies, including programming the computer that guided this country’s first Atlas missile.

Madelyn in full beekeeper outfit

Madelyn spends time each week maintaining her beehives.

Madelyn began that career at the Burroughs Corp., where she followed new product lines from the drawing board through development and on to manufacturing.

“When I left Burroughs, I worked 23 years at Varian Associates in Palo Alto, California,” Madelyn recounts. “We made spectrometers for the medical field. Spectrometers can separate blood, alcohol and other substances for toxicology testing.”

Upon retiring in 1994, Madelyn relocated to Florida to help care for an aging parent. She also started a second career as a seamstress and quilting instructor. But her favorite part of retirement life is beekeeping.

“As a beekeeper, I spend time each week maintaining the hives,” Madelyn enlightens. “I attended Bee Culture College at the University of Florida and quickly became hooked on learning more about these productive and interesting little insects called honeybees.

“Beekeeping is a wonderful way to commune with nature; it makes me feel very attuned to the environment. I learned a lot about botany and the benefits of honey. It can soothe sore throats and ease coughs. It’s antibacterial and can heal wounds and prevent infections. Honey contains antioxidants and is believed by some to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

“Florida’s honeybee industry is consistently ranked among the top five in the nation. A healthy and secure honeybee industry benefits our state’s fruit and vegetable industry through managed pollination. Without pollination, we really don’t have food.”

Honey’s benefits may have contributed to Madelyn’s longevity. However, in the months before her 90th birthday, Madelyn was quite concerned about her smile, as well as the function of her teeth. Existing dental work was failing, and she wasn’t able to chew properly. She was determined to have a smile she could be proud of entering her nonagenarian years.

“My teeth were never pretty,” Madelyn says with a sigh. “And coming from a large family of nine children, there was no money for routine dental care. If we had a toothache, my mother used herbal remedies: cloves and ice and so forth. If a tooth was bad, my father just got a pair of pliers and yanked it out or tied a string around it and pulled it out.

“Over the years, I lost most of my teeth and wound up getting dentures. But the dentures eventually became a problem. They didn’t fit well, so it was hard to chew and eat healthy foods, and to me, one of the most important things in life is to eat healthy. You need good teeth to do that, so I decided to do something about it.”

“My dentures look and feel very natural. It’s as if I never lost any teeth at all,” – Madelyn

Through several friends, Madelyn learned about Park Avenue Dentistry, the Edgewater practice of Stephen P. Lester, DDS, a skilled and experienced general and cosmetic dentist. Based on her friends’ reviews, she chose Dr. Lester to help with her own dental issues.

“I figured if somebody has that kind of following, they must be good,” Madelyn reasons. “During my first visit with Dr. Lester, I showed him a picture of me when I was 42 years old. I liked my smile in that picture, so I gave it to Dr. Lester and said, Put this in your file. I want to have this nice smile again when we’re finished.

Snap Solution

Madelyn Beers driving a golf cart

Madelyn Beers

“When Madelyn came to see me, she had an old full upper denture and a lower partial denture, and she wasn’t happy with either,” Dr. Lester recalls. “They wouldn’t stay put, and she didn’t like their appearance.

“To correct the problem, we created a new full upper denture and partial lower denture that she likes the look of. In both cases, we secured the dentures with locators attached to existing tooth roots.”

A locator is a type of snap system that retains removable dental appliances. Because Madelyn had no teeth on her upper arch and only two teeth remaining on her lower arch, locators were an excellent solution for stabilizing her dentures.

“Healthy tooth roots serve as natural dental implants for securing replacement teeth, such as partials or full dentures,” Dr. Lester asserts. “When we use locators, patients don’t need to undergo implant surgery and wait months for the implants to heal.”

Dental implants are root-shaped, screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. New bone naturally grows around them and fuses to the implants to form the foundation for an attachment piece called an abutment and the replacement teeth.

The replacement teeth can be a crown that is cemented or screwed onto the abutment, a partial denture that can be affixed to one or more implants, or a full denture that can be fastened to a series of implants.

“Locators can be placed on top of implants,” Dr. Lester maintains, “but if patients have two healthy roots that are in the right position in the mouth, we can secure the locators to the roots and end up with the same result without all the surgery, waiting time and expense.”

Another benefit of locators is the aesthetics associated with them.

“Traditionally, partials were held in place by metal clasps that fit around existing teeth in the patient’s mouth,” Dr. Lester describes. “The clasps look like silver clips that fit around the teeth, and they don’t look very good when patients smile.

“People looking into getting a removable appliance may want to consider locators as a way of eliminating those clasps. People can’t see the locators holding the partials in place, so they look more like natural teeth.”

“They Fit Perfectly”

Dr. Lester created an upper denture for Madelyn that snaps into place on a pair of strategically placed locators and a bottom partial denture that snaps into place on a single locator.

“My dentures look and feel very natural. It’s as if I never lost any teeth at all,” Madelyn effuses. “These dentures are lightweight, and they fit perfectly in my mouth, so chewing is easy. It’s like they’re my own teeth.

“It’s remarkable that Dr. Lester was able to simulate the smile I had previously. The treatment process went very well, and lo and behold, on my 90th birthday I had enough teeth to not only eat healthy but have a nice smile as well.”

Childhood Experiences

Tom Mehegan headshot

Tom Mehegan

Chicago native Tom Mehegan relocated to Florida in 1972. The warm temperatures and near-constant sunshine were instrumental in his decision to move.

“The weather in Florida has always been good,” confirms Tom, 73. “In Chicago, when the weather is 20 below zero, you have to have heat. If you lose power in Florida, you can always go to the beach and cool off. If you lose power when it’s 20 below, where do you go to warm up?

“We’ve also had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people
in Florida.”

The Sunshine State has been good for Tom’s career as well. Fifty years ago, when Tom started as a construction consultant for land development, there was a lot of building going on in Florida. The trend has continued through the years.

“We’ve always been fairly busy,” Tom shares. “People want to move to Florida. It’s a nice place to live. The weather is good, the people are nice, and the living conditions are reasonable.

“In my job, I do all the horizontal work on land development, from clearing to filling to installing utilities, everything except the vertical construction, which is the actual building of the homes. I get the lots ready for the builders.

“I work under the developers. Nine out of 10 times, the people who buy the property are the developers. They simply need someone like me to guide them through the construction process. We hire the contractors, who generally hire the builders.”

Like Madelyn, Tom went without routine preventive care from a dentist while growing up. When he did visit a dentist, his experiences were typically negative, and he developed full-blown dental anxiety as a result.

“Dr. Lester is a really good man. In my book, he’s one of the best doctors I’ve ever been to.” – Tom

“When I was a child, going to the dentist was terrible,” he recalls. “The only time we went to the dentist was when they had to pull a tooth. And they didn’t use Novocain® or other numbing medicines like they use today. They just did what they had to do.

“Growing up, I knew it was just a matter of time before things fell apart for me because both of my parents had false teeth. I eventually lost about 12 teeth, and so, 43 years ago, a dentist made several bridges for me.

“When I got those bridges, the dentist told me that if I got 20 years out of them that would be good. I wound up squeezing 43 years before they started to go bad, so that was pretty good.”

In seeking replacements, Tom did not want multiple bridges again. He wanted dental implants and individual replacement teeth. To get that, though, he first had to find a way to manage his anxiety during the treatment process.

For anxious patients such as Tom, Dr. Lester offers several types of sedation. In addition to intravenous (IV) sedation, which he used with Tom, the dentist also provides oral sedation, which is pills, and nitrous oxide gas.

“I looked for a dentist that offered sedation because my anxiety makes it hard for me to sit in a chair while people work on me,” Tom elaborates.

“When I found Dr. Lester, it was a perfect fit. His manner and his staff’s manner are very calming, and he offered IV sedation. I wouldn’t go forward without it.”

Seeking Sedation

Tom posing in parade rest

Chicago native Tom Mehegan relocated to Florida in 1972.

“Oral and IV sedation are similar in that they don’t totally clear the patient’s system when the procedure is over,” Dr. Lester educates. “They last the rest of the day, which is why patients receiving oral and IV sedation need a driver to take them home from the office following their visit. Nitrous oxide, on the other hand, wears off completely once we stop giving the gas. Patients receiving nitrous oxide can drive home safely following their visit.

“Another thing to note about oral and IV sedation is that it can also cause amnesia, so most people don’t remember much about their visit the following day. All of these forms of sedation are effective at easing patients’ anxiety, but we always use Novocain to numb the area we’re working on, so patients don’t feel any discomfort.”

During his initial visit with Tom, Dr. Lester discussed all the forms of sedation he provides as well as his proposed treatment plan. That plan called for Tom to eventually be fit with 10 dental implants.

Dental implants are the closest reproduction to God-given natural teeth that dentistry has been able to create,” Dr. Lester asserts. “They look and feel like natural teeth. They chew like natural teeth, brush like natural teeth and, oftentimes, floss like natural teeth. But they don’t decay like natural teeth. They’re a superior option for replacing missing teeth.

“With Tom, we’ve been placing two or three implants at a time and placing crowns on them. His treatment is not quite done, but when it is, he will have a full set of teeth with nothing removable. They will work just like natural teeth for him.”

“Absolutely Satisfied”

Tom and Madelyn are very pleased with the results of their treatment at Park Avenue Dentistry. They’re also impressed by the dentist that provided their care.

“I took a liking to Dr. Lester immediately when I met him,” Madelyn enthuses. “He’s so personable, genuine and concerned about my comfort. I cannot say enough nice things about him because he’s so professional.

“With his knowledge and terrific background, Dr. Lester made my smile and eating goals happen, and I am so happy about that.”

Tom is a longtime patient at Park Avenue Dentistry. He developed an appreciation for Dr. Lester’s talent soon after becoming a patient.

“I’m absolutely satisfied with my treatment so far,” Tom raves. “Dr. Lester initially placed implants for me 14, 15 years ago. I still have them and haven’t had any problems with them whatsoever. When I go into the office now, he’s the same Dr. Lester that was there 15 years ago. Calm, cool, and dedicated to his practice.

“Dr. Lester is a really good man. In my book, he’s one of the best doctors I’ve ever been to. And his staff is very polite. They take great care of me. That personal interest in patients is not there at most practices, but Dr. Lester still has that quality. I highly recommend him.”

© FHCN staff article. Madelyn’s photos by Jordan Pysz. Tom’s photos courtesy of Tom Mehegan mkb
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