Maintenance Is Key To Smile Restoration

His new teeth look “awesome” and function properly. But patient education is critical.

George Phillips ready to throw a football

George Phillips

The DeLand Bulldogs of the DeLand Pop Warner Youth Tackle Football and Cheer Association lost far more games than they won in 2021. The 10-and-under team did, at least. At the Pop Warner level, though, winning is not a top priority.

“First and foremost, we try to teach sportsmanship, good behavior and respect for the game, officials and other athletes,” says George Phillips, the coach of that 10-and-under team. “At this level, every kid gets a chance to play.”

George, 47, didn’t play much football during his youth. He gravitated more toward soccer and proved to be pretty good at it. Good enough, in fact, to play for the Army during a four-year stint of active service and afterward at a higher level.

“I tried out for a couple of development league teams and landed a spot with one, but I wasn’t going to get paid,” George relates. “Being married and all, I chose another career over soccer and went to work for a living.”

“Finding Dr. Patel was definitely a blessing.” –George

George went on to become a regional manager for a communications company, where he coordinates the installation of infrastructure.

He recently needed some work on his own infrastructure – involving his dental health.

“I had a bridge break,” George says of a dental bridge that spanned his six upper front teeth and was held in place by four upper teeth. “The dentist I was seeing gave me a recommendation for another dentist to do the work, but I decided to look elsewhere.”

George’s search was exhaustive. He visited six dentists, each of whom recommended replacing the broken bridge with a bridge supported by dental implants, before choosing Jayraj J. Patel, DMD, of DeLand Implant Dentistry.

“I chose Dr. Patel because of his attention to detail,” George explains. “He said, To do this right, we’ll need to take our time. All the other dentists said they could do the work in a couple of visits, which seemed like a quick fix. That was the last thing I wanted.”

Balancing Act

George first visited Dr. Patel a little more than a year ago. As with all patients, Dr. Patel began with a short meeting during which he learned of George’s primary concerns. He then conducted a comprehensive oral health examination.

“We always start with a comprehensive exam that looks beyond the patient’s primary complaint because we want to be sure our patients have balanced bilateral occlusion, which means they have healthy teeth and support on all sides in both arches so that they can properly maintain their teeth,” Dr. Patel informs.

“If you’re missing teeth or have other problems that affect your bite, the other teeth are going to suffer. That’s why we always do a comprehensive exam and provide a treatment plan that addresses all the patient’s needs.”

That proved critical in treating George, who presented with only two teeth— the eye tooth and middle front tooth — on each side of his upper arch. He was also missing three teeth — a molar and premolar on the left side and a molar on the right — in his lower arch.

To correct those issues and the occlusal imbalance they caused, Dr. Patel recommended pulling the remaining four upper teeth and fitting George with a full implant-supported upper bridge. He also proposed replacing George’s missing lower teeth with dental implants.



Dental implants are root-shaped, screw-like bodies that are surgically positioned into the jawbone. After placement, new bone naturally grows around the implant to form the foundation for an abutment and replacement teeth.

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

Some patients require a bone graft 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 to six months.

Bone grafts are typically done when implants are seated. The implants then need three to six months to heal before they can support a prosthetic. During the healing period, patients are usually fit with temporary replacement teeth.

Bone grafts are not always necessary, but with patients who have been missing teeth for many years, a graft is sometimes required because bone mass deteriorates when there is no pressure from chewing to stimulate natural bone regeneration.

A 20-Year Fix

George holding football

George’s bright new smile makes him feel like a winner.

Dr. Patel’s work on George began with a thorough cleaning of his lower teeth and a gum treatment to ensure he had a healthy foundation for the implants and restorations.

Dr. Patel then pulled the four upper teeth that held the failing bridge.
Following the extractions, Dr. Patel grafted the upper arch, which received six implants. He then fit George with a temporary denture. While the upper implants healed, Dr. Patel placed three implants in George’s lower arch where the molars and premolar were missing.

George wore the temporary denture until all his implants were strong enough to support prosthetics, which was a few months. He was then fit with a permanent 12-unit upper bridge and had crowns placed on the three implants on the lower arch.

“The last thing we did with George is another thing we do with all our patients,” Dr. Patel adds, “and that is to educate them on proper home health care and maintenance. That is something that I believe sets us apart from other practices.

“We not only do the surgery to grow bone and gums, and place implants, we also help you maintain the implants, so you don’t have future problems. That part is critical because without proper maintenance, just like a car, your implants will break down.”

That kind of care is what George was looking for when he selected Dr. Patel. He’s confident he made the right choice because he has what he refers to as an “awesome” smile that looks great and functions properly.

“Finding Dr. Patel was definitely a blessing,” George enthuses. “His attention to detail is just amazing. He said this will be a 20-year fix, and that was what I was looking for, something that would last. I definitely made the right call in choosing Dr. Patel.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of DeLand Implant Dentistry. mkb
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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, practiced general dentistry in DeLand for more than 30 years. He is certified in implant dentistry through his designation as a diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. Additionally, he is a ... Read More

    • Jayraj J. Patel, DMD

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