Crowning Glory

Computer-driven process restores smiles in single visit.

Sasha posing with a backpack.

Sasha smiles all the time now because she wants everybody to see her pretty teeth.

A small-town girl from West Virginia, Sasha Gibson loves to travel and see the world. She especially loves exploring the western United States. It’s home to her favorite vacation spot and the site of her 2019 spring wedding.

“Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon in Arizona is absolutely gorgeous,” Sasha gushes. “To get there, we had to hike 10 miles into the canyon.

“I got engaged in Phoenix, and we originally planned to get married in Florida in July. Then we thought, Let’s get married while we’re at Havasu Falls. We were already going there to camp and hike.

“We called, made the arrangements and got married in March in front of one of the big waterfalls. It was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. We’ve traveled all over the West, but that trip was hands down one of the best we’ve ever been on.”

While Havasu Falls took Sasha’s breath away, she was mesmerized by the mountains, lakes and creeks in Nevada and within Yellowstone National Park. There’s much more of the country that Sasha desires to see, but she wants to travel overseas as well.

“The only place I’ve been outside of the United States is London, which is beautiful,” Sasha relates. “I loved it and can’t wait to go back. There are a few other places on my bucket list that I want to visit, but COVID shut down travel last year, so we didn’t go anywhere. I’m hoping to pick up and begin traveling again this year.”

Traveling makes the always effervescent Sasha happy, but for years, she was reluctant to smile because her two front teeth were discolored. Her dissatisfaction with that situation dampened her usually bubbly personality.

“I had a root canal on one tooth and there was a filling on the other, and both teeth were turning yellow,” Sasha describes. “They didn’t match my other teeth, which are really white because I whiten them often. I’m kind of obsessive about my teeth. I want white, white teeth.”

When Sasha relocated to Florida a few years back, she went online to find a local dentist who could resolve the issue. After meeting with and rejecting several candidates, she returned to the internet and discovered Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne, where her experience was exceptional.

“I went to four or five other dentists and didn’t feel comfortable at all,” Sasha elaborates. “I went in for consultations and never went back. I didn’t have any work done with them. But the minute I walked into Implant Dentistry of Florida, I was impressed. They were absolutely wonderful. Everybody in the office was nice and bubbly and so welcoming. And the dentist was amazing. They made me feel very at ease and comfortable.”

At Implant Dentistry of Florida, Sasha met with Jordan Robbins, DMD. Dr. Robbins and her colleagues, Clark F. Brown Jr., DDS, and Alejandro Martinez, DMD, provide a full range of services, including cosmetic and general dentistry and all phases of dental implant surgery and smile restoration.

“Sasha’s two front teeth were rotated and stained,” Dr. Robbins recalls. “She didn’t like the way they looked or where they were in her mouth. She wanted them to be wider, straighter and in position with the rest of her teeth. To restore her smile, we recommended crowns using our CEREC® system, which creates the restorations in a single day.”

Modern Marvel

Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, or CEREC, uses computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology to quickly generate precisely fitting dental restorations, such as crowns and veneers, in the dentist’s office.

When creating crowns with the CEREC system, tooth impressions are made using a digital scanner. Patients are not subject to the gooey material previously used to make impressions. The digital impression is then sent to a computer, where the crown is designed by the dentist using specialized software.

“While the design is on the computer, the patient can look at the crown before it is milled,” Dr. Robbins informs. “If there are any changes – if the patient wants the crown shorter or longer – the changes can be made at that time. This gives the patients additional input into their treatment.”

The crowns, meanwhile, are made completely out of a block of porcelain. In the past, most crowns were constructed of porcelain fused to a metal base. Over time, though, as the patient’s gum tissue receded, the metal became visible as a dark ring around the tooth.

“That’s not a concern with all-porcelain crowns,” Dr. Robbins assures. “There’s never a dark ring with them because there’s no metal involved. All-porcelain crowns also provide more translucence and a more natural appearance compared to the old-fashioned crowns.”

Unlike the porcelain-metal variety, crowns made with CEREC are milled in the dentist’s in-house lab. Once the crown has been milled, it’s baked in an oven. It’s then cemented into the patient’s mouth, completing a process that takes about two hours.

“I’m smiling all the time now. I want everybody to see my pretty teeth.” – Sasha

CEREC eliminates the need for a patient to wear a temporary crown while the permanent restoration is fabricated at an off-site lab. That saves patients’ time because they don’t have to return to the office for a second appointment to have the permanent crown fitted.

“Temporary crowns can also fall out, so patients really do not like having to go through the two-visit process,” Dr. Robbins asserts. “They much prefer getting their crowns in a single appointment.”

At first, Sasha was nervous about committing to crowns on her front teeth because she had issues getting crowns in the past. She was concerned about obtaining the correct shade without needing to crown multiple teeth to achieve a color match.

“Sasha was very concerned about aesthetics, so we spent quite a bit of time with her determining the right color for her crowns,” Dr. Robbins discloses. “We also showed her the design before we milled her crowns so she could approve them.”

Sasha was involved during the entire process.

“All my dental work was done in one sitting,” Sasha reveals. “They put the permanent crowns on my teeth that day.”

Lost in Despair

As a corpsman in the Navy, Andrew Blackburn provided needed medical care not only to his ship’s crew, but also to the sick and injured in clinics and hospitals onshore.

Andrew is proud to show off his new smile.

In the mid-1980s, however, Andrew was injured himself aboard the USS Canisteo, which was based in Norfolk, Virginia. He hurt his back on duty helping others and underwent multiple back surgeries following his discharge from the service.

“After I got out of the Navy, I worked as a surgeon’s assistant for a few years, but then I developed paralysis in my legs from the surgeries and couldn’t stand,” Andrew recounts. “I also had to have surgery on my neck and ended up with kidney disease from all the medications they gave me. In 2010, I applied for Social Security because I couldn’t work anymore due to all my health problems.”

Andrew was still in his 40s when he was forced into retirement. The thought of being disabled at such a young age sparked a downward spiral into depression. Adding to his despair was discontent with the condition of his smile due to lost and failing teeth.

“I had good dental care growing up, but no one really enforced the flossing procedure and I ended up with periodontal disease,” Andrew relates. “Over time, I lost a lot of my upper teeth. The bone around the teeth deteriorated from the periodontal disease so my teeth fell out.

“I eventually got a removable denture that was held in place by dental implants, but that didn’t work very well so I didn’t wear it. I’m normally very conceited about my looks and like to show off my pearly whites when I smile. But I wasn’t able to do that, so I didn’t smile at all because I was embarrassed. I tried to talk and eat without showing that I didn’t have teeth up top, but that’s hard to do.”

Because of his dental problems, Andrew tended to isolate at home.

“You get depressed when you can’t see yourself the way you want, and I couldn’t see myself without teeth,” Andrew explains.

Eating was complicated as well. Many common foods required extraordinary steps for Andrew to ingest.

“If we had corn on the cob, I had to cut the corn off the cob to consume it,” Andrew describes. “And with no upper teeth, hamburgers and sandwiches were hard to bite, so I cut them up and ate them piece by piece, which was kind of weird in restaurants. People wondered, Why is he cutting up that burger? Normally, people pick them up and eat them, but I couldn’t do that.”

Andrew finally realized he needed a plan to replace his missing teeth and set out to find a dentist. His wife’s co-worker recommended Dr. Brown at Implant Dentistry of Florida.

Secure Foundations

“Andrew came to us with problems regarding his upper teeth,” Dr. Brown confirms. “He had two dental implants in his upper jaw with some teeth attached that had broken off, and the remainder of his upper teeth were decayed and not savable.

“To correct those problems, we removed one of the existing dental implants, which was failing. Then, in a single visit, we extracted his remaining upper teeth, placed four additional implants to give him a total of five and fit him with a new upper fixed denture.”

When securing a lower denture, four implants are sufficient, according to Dr. Brown. The bone on the upper arch, though, doesn’t have the same density as the bone on the bottom. It’s more porous, so up to six implants are usually needed to secure an upper denture.

Dental implants are screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone to replace the roots of missing teeth. Once the implant is in the jawbone, new bone naturally grows around it to form the foundation for an abutment and replacement teeth.

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

Dental implants need three to six months to heal to a point where they can support a prosthetic. During the healing period, patients are usually fit with temporary replacement teeth.

Enhanced Confidence

Andrew was initially given several choices for his new upper denture, including a conventional denture that rests on the gum tissue and requires adhesive to keep it in place.

“Dr. Brown worked very hard to give me back my smile.” – Andrew

“He chose to go with a fixed denture that comes down to the tissue but doesn’t press into it as he bites,” Dr. Brown reports. “It gives him much better chewing ability and a lot more confidence when he smiles.

“When he came to us, Andrew didn’t have much up top, but when he left he had a full set of strong, secure upper teeth. That’s important, because people who don’t have a nice smile tend to be self-conscious and don’t smile a lot. But when they get their smile restored, it makes them seem happier to others as well as themselves. That’s what happened with Andrew.”

Andrew says his personality dictated that he get as close to normal as possible or he wouldn’t be comfortable or happy.

“The denture Dr. Brown gave me gets me there,” Andrew reports. “Dr. Brown worked very hard to give me back my smile.”

Gorgeous Teeth

Sasha and Andrew arrived at Implant Dentistry of Florida with different dental issues that required different treatments, but their final outcomes were the same. They both received restored smiles that bolstered their self-confidence.

Before meeting Dr. Robbins, Sasha was certain extensive dental work was required to achieve the aesthetic results she desired. She was pleasantly surprised when the dentist assured her that changing the appearance of her stained teeth was a quick and easy fix.

“Dr. Robbins gave me two crowns on my front teeth, and they’re perfect,” Sasha raves. “My teeth look freaking gorgeous. I love them. I’m smiling all the time now. I want everybody to see my pretty teeth.”

Andrew is enthusiastic about his results as well. He reports that his new upper denture works well and is very comfortable. He says it makes him feel like his old self.

“I feel like the man I was prior to losing my teeth,” he states. “My wife says I almost look the way I did as a young man, except for the aging in the face. But my teeth are back to being pearly white, and I can smile with confidence again.

“Not only that, but my denture allows me to chew with no problem. I can eat everything I couldn’t eat before, including sandwiches, burgers, corn, ribs and apples. It actually brought a lot of foods back into my life.”

Andrew battled his depression with the help of professionals who gave him advice for facing life’s difficult times. The counseling gave him the desire to seek treatment at Implant Dentistry of Florida, which changed his outlook on life.

“One thing they told me was I didn’t have to accept my teeth the way they were; I could do something about them,” Andrew recalls. “I was able to find the perfect dentist to get the job done right, and it’s worked out really great for me.

“I haven’t had a depression episode in a few years. Being able to smile makes me feel better about myself.”

Sasha is back to her bubbly self as well. After enduring negative experiences with multiple dentists, she finally found a provider she feels totally comfortable with. At Implant Dentistry of Florida, Sasha feels a deep connection to the dentist and her staff.

“I love Dr. Robbins and everybody at Implant Dentistry of Florida,” she enthuses. “And I fit right in with them. When I go in for my appointments, we have a blast and are probably way too loud, laughing and carrying on. I told Dr. Robbins, I need to work here with you all. You all are awesome!

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Sasha’s photos by Jordan Pysz. Andrew’s FHCN file photos. mkb
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    • Implant Dentistry of Florida

      Dr. Clark Brown and his team at Implant Dentistry of Florida are committed to providing you with excellent dental care in a warm, comfortable setting. They provide the latest techniques in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and general ... Read More

    • Jordan Robbins, DMD

      Jordan Robbins, DMD, earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from University of Florida in Gainesville in 2017. She completed a general practice residency with the Air Force in Colorado in 2018 and served as a dentist in that service br... Read More

    • Alejandro Martinez, DMD

      Alejandro Martinez, DMD, graduated cum laude with a degree in Community Health from Utah Valley University and completed his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at Temple University in 2019. Dr. Martinez is adept in all aspects of general den... Read More

    • Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS

      Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, is board certified by the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Geo... Read More