Crowning Glory

Rebuilding that beautiful smile may be easier than you think.

When Benjamin* ran through the finish line at a local Turkey Trot two years ago, it didn’t matter that he’d finished 84th overall in the Thanksgiving 5K race. What mattered was that he had run the race at all and actually finished.

Such was the goal the 38-year-old former high school distance runner set 12 years earlier, when doctors questioned whether he’d ever walk normally again as a result of injuries suffered in a horrific car accident.

“I broke both legs in that accident, and there was so much damage to my right knee and hip that the doctors wondered if I’d ever build them back up again,” Benjamin remembers.

“It took 10 years, but through a lot of rehab and skin grafts, I finally got to where I could function normally. It was probably about six months later that I started running again, and a year after that I entered that 5K.”

Since that Turkey Trot, Benjamin has run in three races, including a 10K this past summer. He’s finished them all, he’s proud to say, and strongly believes his leg problems are a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, Benjamin has had almost as much trouble with his teeth as he has with his legs. For years, Benjamin largely ignored those problems. Then early last year, a friend asked him to be in his wedding.

“I knew I wouldn’t look good in the pictures, so I figured it was time to finally do something about my teeth,” Benjamin explains. “My biggest worry was a missing tooth in the front. I lost that tooth about 20 years ago when I fell and hit a concrete wall around a pool.

“My dentist at the time put a post in there, but 12 years later it came out. By then, my old dentist had retired, and I never did anything about it. Ever since then, I’ve always been a little hesitant to smile or even go out in public much.

“But then my best friend asked me to be in his wedding, and I wanted to make sure I looked good for it. Thankfully, my friend’s mom works at a dentist office, so I went there to see what could be done about that tooth.”

Bridging the Gap

That office is Advanced Dentistry of Fort Myers. During Benjamin’s first visit he met with Katrine A. Farag, DMD, who found more than just a missing tooth that needed repair.

“What inspired Benjamin to visit us initially was that missing right lateral incisor, which is the tooth right next to the two front teeth,” Dr. Farag says. “When I started my examination I discovered he was missing a number of teeth, especially in the back.

“He told me he had been missing those teeth for a while, for many years actually, and what unfortunately happens when you’ve been missing teeth for many years like that is you begin to lose a lot of bone structure and eventually your whole bite collapses. That’s what happened to Benjamin. He was missing a lot of teeth, mostly on the top, so when he would bite down, the lower teeth went straight up to the gum where he was missing the upper teeth.

“The same thing was happening with that missing tooth in front. A lower tooth was going straight into the space where that missing top tooth had been, so the challenge was fitting something into that space.”

In taking on that challenge, Dr. Farag determined she would need to rebuild Benjamin’s bite. To do that and correct the aesthetic problem created by the missing front tooth, she would need to extract a few other teeth as well.

The fact that some of Benjamin’s remaining teeth were infected made that decision easier. The difficult part for Benjamin was deciding how to replace all the missing teeth. He had three options, though Dr. Farag quickly cut it to two.

“A lot of people in a situation such as Benjamin’s come in thinking they’re going to need to get dentures,” Dr. Farag reports. “Many of them assume that’s their only option. But that’s not the case at all. In fact, I told Benjamin, You’re too young for dentures.

“So, we talked about dental implants, but because he had so little bone left in the area where he lost the teeth, the surgery required to prepare him for implants would have been very extensive. That’s why he decided to go with a full fixed upper bridge.”

The fixed upper bridge would include replacement teeth for all those teeth that had been lost previously, including the missing tooth in the front, and it would be secured by new crowns placed on healthy existing teeth.

The first step in fashioning that bridge was to extract Benjamin’s failing teeth. That included extracting what remained of the missing front tooth, which still had some structure to it beneath the gums.

“Dr. Farag’s one of the best dentists I’ve ever come across, and her staff is absolutely wonderful.” – Benjamin

“For this kind of bridge, you need to have enough good anchors to support it, and we were fortunate that Benjamin did,” Dr. Farag explains. “We prepped those good teeth with crowns to serve as the anchors.

“The other replacement teeth were connected to those crowns so it’s all one piece. Then, for the missing tooth in the front, we added what we call a pontic. That’s a fake tooth, but it’s connected to the other anchors and looks and functions like a real tooth.

“The whole thing is done from a mold, and from that mold the lab makes a temporary bridge that Benjamin wore until the permanent bridge was ready. But even with the temporary, he could eat and smile and do everything normally.”

Confidence Builder

Benjamin smiles a lot these days. He was fit with a temporary bridge in time for the wedding and later received the permanent bridge, which he’s ecstatic about. He says his new smile has made him a lot more confident and outgoing.

“It has changed my whole outlook,” Benjamin raves. “They did a beautiful job and took great care of me. I haven’t had a full set of teeth for a long, long time, but I do now, and they look awesome. I’m super impressed with what they’ve done for me.

Benjamin now visits Advanced Dentistry of Fort Myers for regular cleanings. He’s also planning to have Dr. Farag restore his lower arch, which will require the placement of a partial. Benjamin says he’s confident Dr. Farag will do a great job on that arch as well.

“Dr. Farag and her whole staff are just great,” he enthuses. “They made me feel very comfortable and took away any fears I had right away. I let my teeth go for far too long, and Dr. Farag did a great job reconstructing the damage I did.

“I’m thrilled about all that they’ve done for me and love the new smile they gave me. That’s why I readily recommend them to anybody. In fact, I just recommended them to a neighbor. I told him, You definitely want to see Dr. Farag. She’s great.

“She makes you feel comfortable, she gives you options for the work that has to be done, and she explains everything that’s going on. She tells you what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and the staff is just wonderful. They’re all very kind and conscientious. You won’t find anyone better in the area.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. mkb
* Patient’s name changed at his request
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    • Advanced Dentistry of Fort Myers

      Dr. Farag looks forward to hearing from readers of Florida Health Care News. Their office is conveniently located  at 16601 San Carlos Blvd. in Fort Myers. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (239) 466-3131.... Read More

    • Katrine A. Farag, DMD

      Katrine A. Farag, DMD, earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Nova Southeastern University after completing undergraduate studies in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University. She is a member of the Florida Academy of Cosmetic Den... Read More

    • Joseph H. Farag, DMD

      Joseph H. Farag, DMD, earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry after completing his undergraduate degree at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Farag served an implant residency at the Misc... Read More