Expanded Focus

The importance of treating more than the problem at hand.

Carole Gilbert in her garden

Carole happily shows off her restored smile.

While waiting out the coronavirus last year, the powers in Major League Baseball contemplated a restructuring of their feeder system that could have eliminated 42 minor league teams from communities all across the US.

That was an anxious time for Carole Gilbert.

Carole is a longtime fan of the Daytona Tortugas, a minor-league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Since its inception as an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in 1993, the Tortugas have been the launching point for the careers of more than 100 major league players.

“My son and I go to several Tortugas games each year, so we were quite nervous last year when it looked like we might lose our team,” Carole relays. “But the Tortugas are back this year, and we’re very happy for that.”

Carole has been following the Tortugas and charting the career paths of their alumni since 2016, when her family moved from Sanford to DeLand. Shortly after making that move, she went in search of a new dentist.

In part because it’s just five minutes from her house, she chose DeLand Implant Dentistry. Since making that call, Carole, 68, has visited the practice mostly for cleanings and general maintenance. Then, one day last year, a larger issue developed.

“One of my crowns became loose,” Carole reveals. “The whole tooth actually started to wiggle, and I thought, Well, this is quite worrisome. So I called the dentist right away and made an appointment.

“In the meantime, I had to avoid eating on the side where that tooth was because it was one of the teeth in the back. I was really worried that if I wasn’t careful, the crown would break off and I’d have a real problem on my hands.”

Fractured and Failing

DeLand Implant Dentistry is the practice of Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS, and his nephew, Jayraj J. Patel, DMD. Dr. Jayraj Patel saw Carole, whose treatment began with a thorough examination of the problem tooth.

During that exam, Dr. Patel learned the upper-right second premolar was fractured and failing to the point where it also became loose. That greatly limited treatment options.

“I explained that we could cement the crown back on, but that was not going to be a good long-term solution,” the doctor recalls. “The best solution was to take the tooth out and replace it with a bridge or an implant. But a bridge wasn’t a good option either because she already had crowns on the neighboring teeth. By placing a bridge there, we would be endangering the neighboring teeth, so that left us with implants.”

Dental implants are screw-like posts made of a titanium alloy that are placed in the jaw, where they fuse with 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 teeth can be a single crown that is cemented 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.

“You need to be thorough and make sure all the teeth are healthy.” – Dr. Rajiv Patel

Prior to placing an implant, some patients require a bone grafting procedure designed to enhance the volume of the jawbone so it can properly support the implant. The amount of time needed for the bone development is about three months.

Dr. Patel’s plan for treating Carole was to place one implant, where he would put a crown. Prior to seating the implant, he performed a bone graft to build up the jawbone where the implant would be.

While waiting for bone to grow around the implant, Dr. Patel treated the neighboring teeth, focusing primarily on a tooth next to the one he’d removed, which had a crown showing signs of age.

“She had a very old crown that was headed in the same direction as the one on the failing tooth,” Dr. Patel reports. “We gave that tooth a new crown that went all the way down to the gum line to protect it from fracture.

“We did that because you never want to get tunnel vision and focus only on the problem at hand. You need to be thorough and make sure all the teeth are healthy. That’s how you prevent patients from developing greater problems down the road.”

Safe at Home

Carole had all this work done in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At no point, though, was she ever concerned about possibly contracting the coronavirus during a visit because the dentist and his staff have taken great precaution to ensure patient safety.

“They reminded me before my appointments to wear a mask, and when I got there they took my temperature right away,” Carole remembers. “There was limited seating in the waiting room, and they made sure I didn’t have to wait long.

“All the doctors and staff members wear masks and double masks the whole time. They really went above and beyond the normal protocols, so I had no concerns about catching the virus, even though I had to have my mouth open all the time.”

Carole appreciates not only the preventive measures, but also that she was able to get the advanced dental work in one place.

“It’s very rare to find that, and I want to add that they always go out of their way to make me feel comfortable,” Carole relates. “Everyone in their office is very friendly and helpful, and the work they do is exceptional.”

Carole is “very thankful” she no longer has a problem with any of her teeth.

“Dr. Patel did a great job advising me on the treatment I needed and then taking care of all the teeth around that problem tooth I had,” she praises.

“They’re so good that I’m even encouraging my son to visit them for a problem he’s been having. He has a tremendous fear of dentists, but Dr. Patel and his staff do such a great job of making people feel comfortable that I know he’ll be comfortable there.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. js
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    • Deland Implant Dentistry

      Rajiv Patel BDS, MDS, has practiced general dentistry in Deland, Florida for more than 26 years. He strives to deliver the most advanced, personalized, comprehensive and professional dental care to his patients while building relationships b... Read More

    • Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS

      Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS, has practiced general dentistry in DeLand for more than 25 years. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry, and Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. With hundreds of h... Read More

    • Jayraj J. Patel, DMD

      Jayraj J. Patel, DMD, has been practicing general dentistry in the Central Florida region since graduating from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. His goal is to deliver comprehensive, compassionate care to his patients in a c... Read More