‘In Good Hands’

Army vet appreciates provider’s solution for war-begot dental woe.

Connie and Ronald are pleased with Dr. Gaukhman’s solution to Ronald’s denture issues

For 35 years, Ronald Gesell was an outside plant engineer for Illinois Consolidated Telephone Co., now Consolidated Communications, based in Southeast Illinois. Ronald’s job usually involved constructing telephone lines to service rural customers.

“I retired from the telephone company in 1994, then worked for the state of Illinois for three years,” Ronald recounts. “I provided buildings in Chicago and other places with TV service and security monitors. I traveled to all of the prisons in the state and set them up with security cameras and video equipment.”

For most of his life, Ronald, 79, resided in Illinois, although he and his wife, Connie, dreamed of living in the Sunshine State. The bug first bit in 1965 after they visited Daytona Beach for their honeymoon. For years, they returned to Florida’s east coast for summer vacations.

“After Connie’s brother moved to Sarasota, we starting vacationing on this side of the state,” Ronald discloses. “We finally moved to Florida in 1997. We got tired of the snow and ice all winter in Illinois. Besides, it’s gloomy up there most of the time.”

The gloom of Midwestern winters often put a damper on his mood. But a negative experience from his past had already cast a pall on his emotional state. The trauma stems from his Army service in the Vietnam War. Ronald rarely talks about those days except to note their deleterious effect on his health.

“I was exposed to Agent Orange,” Ronald reveals. “I developed diabetes as a result, and it has been tough on my body. It has affected my overall health. I’ve had two strokes due to the diabetes, and the medications I take for it have deteriorated my teeth.”

Consequently, Ronald’s teeth began fracturing and falling out.

“One morning, I was sitting with Connie having a bagel and my front tooth just broke off as I chewed,” he recalls. “At that point, I had only 19 teeth left. I decided to have them all removed and replaced with dentures. We shopped around for a dentist to do the work, and we liked Dr. Gaukhman the best.”

Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, is a skilled general, cosmetic and emergency dentist at Venetian Dental, which has offices in Sarasota, Venice and Osprey. After an examination, Dr. Gaukhman agreed with Ronald’s solution for treating his dental issues.

“By the time I saw Ronald, he had already lost multiple teeth to decay and gum disease,” Dr. Gaukhman reports. “His remaining teeth were full of infection and were unsalvageable. My recommendation was to extract the teeth and create new upper and lower dentures. I further recommended securing his lower denture with two dental implants.”

Connie was impressed with the efficiency and safety protocols of the Venetian Dental staff.

“Because of COVID-19, I wasn’t allowed to go back to the exam room with Ronald,” she relates. “Dr. Gaukhman and his staff got right on Ronald’s case, and they relayed to me what needed to be done. I knew what was going to happen before one tooth was ever removed. I knew Ronald was in good hands.”

Single-Visit Solution

Dr. Gaukhman’s treatment plan called for the placement of dental implants to secure Ronald’s lower denture. But the dentist didn’t suggest implants for Ronald’s upper denture. The reason has a lot to do with the anatomy of the mouth.

“Typically, upper dentures fit securely in the mouth without dental implants because the palate, which serves as the roof of the mouth, creates sufficient suction to hold the appliances in place,” Dr. Gaukhman educates.

Lower dentures are a different story.

“These are often difficult to stabilize because the lower jaw is not designed for dentures,” Dr. Gaukhman asserts. “There’s no palate in the lower jaw due to the location of the tongue, and because of that less suction is produced. Consequently, lower dentures tend to slip and slide.

“It is rare when people can wear lower dentures that don’t bother them or stay tight without help. Securing a lower denture with dental implants is the most effective way to stabilize it. That’s why I recommended using implants to secure Ronald’s lower denture.”

Dental implants are screw-like posts made of titanium alloy that are surgically placed into the jawbone. They serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, such as crowns and dentures. Dentures secured by implants don’t slip or move; they stay in place when patients speak and eat.

In most cases, Dr. Gaukhman treats his denture patients using Dentures in a Day, Venetian Dental’s single-visit smile-restoration technique. As part of the Dentures in a Day process, Dr. Gaukhman places the implants on the same day he extracts the teeth. Typically, temporary dentures are also created that day in Venetian Dental’s on-site laboratory.

“We begin the process by taking impressions of the patient’s teeth,” Dr. Gaukhman describes. “It takes a few hours for the lab to fabricate the dentures, but once they’re ready, we extract the teeth, put in the implants and place the dentures right away. This way, the dentures act as a bandage to minimize swelling and bleeding. Moreover, patients do not need to walk around without teeth.

“The patient wears the temporary denture for three to six months following the implant procedure. The time allows the implants to integrate with the jawbone and for the tissues to heal. At that point, the temporary denture is replaced with a permanent appliance that attaches to the implants. Once the permanent dentures are placed, we make any necessary adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.”

Ronald is currently wearing temporary upper and lower dentures. He will be measured for his permanent appliances during an upcoming visit to Venetian Dental.

“Perfect” Dentures

Ronald says he is pleased with the Dentures in a Day process.

“My treatment went very well,” he enthuses. “Everything was very well planned out, and there was no pain whatsoever. The dentures I have now are perfect. They look nice and fit well, and I have no trouble chewing. I have no problems with these dentures, but I’ll be happy to get my new ones.”

When Ronald and Connie were searching for a dentist to perform Ronald’s mouth restoration, they visited multiple practices. The couple was taken aback when the dental providers quoted prices for Ronald’s treatment without examining him.

“When we got to Dr. Gaukhman’s office, the first thing he said was, Let’s go take some x-rays and see what we have,” Connie reports. “No one else even asked to see what’s going on. They just gave us a quote right off the bat.

“Dr. Gaukhman cared enough to give us the right opinion about what needed to be done for Ronald’s treatment, and that was important to us. We both felt very comfortable because they had everything planned out, right down to the date of surgery.

“Venetian Dental is a well-oiled machine. And Dr. Gaukhman is a very polite young man. I highly recommend him.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. js
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    • Venetian Dental

      Venetian Dental is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile. Their state-of-the art dental offices offer the latest in dental technology and patient amenities. They provide comprehensive treatment planning, and use r... Read More

    • Alexander Gaukhman, DMD

      Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, earned his dental degree at Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry, Ft. Lauderdale. He completed his undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Dr. Gaukhman is a diplomate of the Inter... Read More