Lasting Solutions

Single-visit crowns and implant-secured fixed bridges restore flawed smiles.

Early in her career, Billie Rae Harris was a popular hairstylist in her home state of West Virginia. To keep up with the latest trends, she took styling classes in large fashion centers such as New York City and Washington, DC. Her aim was to make everyone look good, including herself. That goal has remained important to her.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Billie and her husband, Warren, look forward to attending her 60th high school reunion this fall.

“I went to college for a year, but my parents had a beauty salon, and I decided I’d rather work there,” she remembers. “After I got married, we moved and ended up in Florida, where I’ve lived for about 30 years.”

Billie, 77, occasionally returns to the Mountain State to visit and obtain pieces of unique, West Virginia glassware for her collection. Years ago, when she was alerted to the date of her 50th high school reunion, she started to get a little nervous. She wanted to look her best for her former classmates.

“At first, I thought maybe I would get a face-lift or have something else done to my face,” Billie recalls. “But then I realized that my teeth are most important because people generally see them before they see anything else.

“I have a pretty big smile, so all my teeth are visible at once. Twenty years ago, I had crowns placed on my two front teeth, but they never suited me. They were too thick and just didn’t look natural. Now, they were aging and becoming discolored, so I was afraid to smile.

“People say you should feel comfortable in your skin. I believe you should feel comfortable in your teeth as well.”

Billie sought a dental provider who could help and chose Clark F. Brown Jr., DDS, of Implant Dentistry of Florida. Dr. Brown and his colleague, Kim N. Doan, DMD, provide a full range of dental services. They perform cosmetic and general dentistry, as well as all phases of dental implant surgery and smile restoration.

“I met Dr. Brown through my father,” Billie explains. “He always talked about Dr. Brown and how wonderful he is, what a good dentist he is. So, Dr. Brown came highly recommended.”

“I was so pleased with the crown work Dr. Brown did because it made my smile look much better.” – Billie

When Billie met Dr. Brown, she understood what her father was raving about. She liked the kind and caring dentist immediately and was especially taken with how patient he was as she described her issues and concerns.

“I was really impressed by Dr. Brown,” Billie states. “He is very calm and gentle, and he’s a very caring person. He listens to you when you’re trying to tell him something. He’s very understanding.

“I told Dr. Brown that when I see a picture of myself, it looks like those front teeth are too thick. Also, with the teeth on each side of the front teeth, one came inward and one went out a little bit.

“I didn’t have braces when I was growing up because those teeth weren’t that bad. Dr. Brown said, We can handle that. He told me how he could do it and explained everything so well that I was no longer concerned about that part of it.

“But then I thought, Can we get the work done in the two weeks before my reunion? If the treatment makes my gums tender or red, it might be a problem. But Dr. Brown said, No, it’s not a problem. I can have it done that quickly because we don’t have to wait for the restorations.

The CEREC Solution

To improve Billie’s smile, Dr. Brown recommended new crowns on the two front teeth as well as the adjacent teeth. Though a bit hesitant at first, Billie agreed to the plan after Dr. Brown thoroughly explained how using CEREC®, a computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing technology, would expedite the process.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Billie Rae Harris

“I’d had several crowns before, but they had to send away for those,” Billie describes. “They gave me temporary ones, and I had to wait two or three weeks for the permanent ones, which is very inconvenient.”

There is no such inconvenience with the CEREC system. CEREC uses 3D imaging to accurately scan the mouth, then designs the crowns and fabricates them out of solid porcelain in Dr. Brown’s office in one visit, so there is no need for temporaries.

“I started doing CEREC restorations in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the technology,” Dr. Brown acknowledges. “Being able to transform a patient’s smile in a single visit is an amazing experience.

“Patients love the CEREC technology as well because they don’t have to take impressions, wear temporary crowns or return for a second visit to have their final crowns placed. Everyone wins with single-visit dentistry.”

Fear Factor

Riccardo Billi, 55, left his native New Jersey to pursue business opportunities in Florida. Following his relatives’ example, he purchased a mobile home community, which he sold last year when he retired. He didn’t give up property ownership entirely, though. He simply scaled back his involvement to suit his retirement lifestyle.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Riccardo Billi

“Two of my uncles moved to Florida about 10 years before I did,” Riccardo states. “They started buying properties and did very well. They owned one mobile home community together, sold it and doubled their money. Then they each bought their own community.

“When I sold my mobile home community, I had to reinvest the money, so I bought five homes all within a mile of my house to rent out. I started a corporation, and all five homes are under that corporation. I use a management company to manage the homes, but overseeing the corporation is essentially what I do now.”

As a property owner, Riccardo knows the importance of maintaining his properties and keeping them up to municipal codes. He wasn’t as vigilant about maintaining his teeth and recently faced the prospect of needing to reconstruct his smile.

He points to a period in his early childhood as the commencement of his poor dental health.

“When I was 4 years old, I contracted whooping cough,” he explains. “I was very sick and almost died. Apparently, I was overmedicated with antibiotics, and my dentist said that ruined the enamel on my teeth. I got my first root canal at age 12, and it was a horrible experience. For years after that, you couldn’t get me near a dentist.”

Those years of avoiding the dentist proved costly as the condition of Riccardo’s teeth greatly deteriorated. Finally, in 1996, while living in New Jersey, it became necessary for Ricccardo to face his fear of dentists, and he underwent a significant amount of dental work.

“I had some teeth extracted and seven root canals done,” Riccardo remembers. “My dentist also made four bridges for the top of my mouth and two for the bottom.

The dental work was very expensive, thousands of dollars. I was working for the New York City Transit Authority at the time, and that was a lot of money for us.”
Unfortunately, Riccardo’s investment depreciated over the years. Because he smoked cigarettes for a long time, a habit he has since quit, and drank coffee, his dental work became stained and unattractive. But those aesthetic issues were the least of Riccardo’s dental problems.

“After I moved to Florida, a couple of my bridges fell out,” he reports. “But I didn’t replace them right away. I decided to have my teeth redone when I sold the mobile home community. My uncle had been to see Dr. Brown for some dental work, and he did an excellent job on my uncle’s teeth, so I decided to go see Dr. Brown as well.”

Amazing Process

During his first visit with Riccardo, Dr. Brown performed a thorough evaluation and determined his remaining teeth were unsalvageable. The dentist recommended removing the remaining bridges, extracting the teeth and replacing them with implant-secured fixed bridges. It would be the complete smile reconstruction Riccardo needed.

“Riccardo came to us with natural teeth that were failing and existing bridges that were faltering, but we were able to extract his teeth, place dental implants and secure his temporary bridges during one sedation visit,”Dr. Brown observes.

“Dental implants are small, threaded metal posts that resemble screws,” Dr. Brown describes. “They are made of titanium, so the body does not recognize them as foreign objects.

“The dental implants are placed at strategic locations in the jaw to act as a solid foundation for the replacement teeth, which can be a crown when replacing a single tooth or a bridge when replacing multiple teeth or an entire arch of teeth. Implants can also be used to stabilize loose dentures.”

“My overall experience at Implant Dentistry of Florida was great. With Dr. Brown, I had no fear at all.”- Ricardo

Once the implants have been placed in the jaw, bone naturally grows around them to form a secure foundation. Known clinically as osseointegration, this process is similar to what happens with joint replacements and typically takes three to four months to complete.

“We can often secure temporary fixed bridges on the day of implant surgery when the entire arch of teeth is being replaced since they will all be attached to the same bridge,” Dr. Brown reports. “That helps the implants support each other.

“There are several reasons why we might not install the final bridges on the same day. The main reason is that the bone and gums remodel during the healing process. It becomes more difficult to get the final bridges to look and fit perfectly if we don’t wait for this remodeling to occur.”

During Riccardo’s surgery, Dr. Brown placed six implants in the upper arch and four on the bottom arch. Two of the implants placed in the upper arch were implanted at an angle, not straight up and down.

Dr. Brown says this isn’t unusual when creating a full-arch bridge.

“Typically, posterior implants are put in at an angle when they will be securing a restoration that is fixed in place, meaning it is not removable except by a dentist,” Dr. Brown explains. “Angled implants give fixed bridges the most support with the fewest number of implants and support the bridges evenly from front to back.”

“No Problems”

Once the osseointegration period is complete, the final restorations can be placed on top of them. In Riccardo’s case, only three months were needed before Dr. Brown could create and insert the final bridges.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Riccardo had a great experience at Implant Dentistry of Florida.

“Now, I have my permanent bridges, and I love them,” Riccardo raves. “They look great. They look very natural, and I have no problems chewing with them.”

In addition to reconstructing Riccardo’s smile, Dr. Brown also alleviated Riccardo’s misgivings about dentists. The retired property owner is now a regular patient at Implant Dentistry of Florida.

“My overall experience at Implant Dentistry of Florida was great,” he enthuses. “With Dr. Brown, I had no fear at all. I was a little anxious before the implant surgery, but he told me what to expect, so it wasn’t that bad.

“I have no complaints at all about Dr. Brown and his staff. Dr. Brown is genuinely a nice guy. He’s a gentleman and very pleasant to be around. He was very gentle and made me feel comfortable. I definitely recommend him.”

Revealing Results

Billie was on the receiving end of advanced technology at Implant Dentistry of Florida as well. The all-porcelain crowns she received thrilled her, as did the quick and easy process it took to get them. She is grateful for what Dr. Brown was able to do for her.

“Dr. Brown does everything in the office, and that’s exactly the way it should be,” Billie states. “He did it two weeks before I left to go to my 50th reunion. I was so pleased with the crown work Dr. Brown did because it made my smile look much better. And I felt more confident about speaking and eating as well. I was amazed.”

At Billie’s 50th class reunion, many people remarked about her youthful appearance, and her beautiful new smile continues to earn her many approving comments.

“None of my friends knew I had anything done, but they all commented on how much younger I looked,” she reports. “They said, You look just like you did back in high school, except that then my hair was brown instead of white. When I went to my 56th reunion, people again commented on my pretty, youthful smile.

“I think people’s reactions to seeing me are interesting because many of my friends are getting work done on their faces. But the work I had done on my teeth looks so natural that people often say, You look like you’ve been on vacation or You look like you’ve had work done. And I respond, Not on my face.

Billie’s youthful smile made an impression on the new man in her life as well. She met her new beau at an area senior center. They began dating and were married this past February 14.

It has been 10 years since Dr. Brown created Billie’s CEREC crowns. Now she’s preparing to attend her 60th high school reunion this fall.

“I’m still comfortable with my smile going into my 60th reunion,” she reports. “Dr. Brown and his staff check my crowns often, and I don’t have any problems with them. I don’t have to worry when I’m talking to people I’ve never met or haven’t seen in a long time. And when I can express my feelings, it makes me
feel comfortable.

“I’m really happy with my smile, and I’m looking forward to going to my 60th reunion this fall with my new husband.”

Billie is also happy with Dr. Brown and his team at Implant Dentistry of Florida.

“I always feel comfortable when I visit Implant Dentistry of Florida,” she says. “Keeping my smile nice is a real team effort, and they take very good care of me.
Dr. Brown and his staff really look out for their patients. They’re friendly, compassionate, caring people, and when I’m there, we’re like one big, happy family. I highly recommend them.”

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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

    • 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