Now You’re Talking

Rebuilt smile eases pain, embarrassment for public speaker.

As an administrator for a local state college, Adam* often speaks in front of faculty at board meetings and lectures before community and professional assemblies. Whenever he speaks, Adam wears a broad smile on his face. He believes a good smile projects intelligence, confidence and integrity. But recently, Adam suffered a smile setback.

“A few months ago, I began experiencing issues with my teeth, particularly my bottom teeth,” he recounts. “They ached terribly and I felt considerable pain whenever I chewed down on something hard. My lower gums were red and swollen as well, and that impacted my smile.

“I was embarrassed to let others see my teeth and gums, so I started keeping my mouth closed when I smiled. I became concerned that my weak smile was making a poor first impression on my audiences when I spoke.”

Initially, Adam visited a general dentist on staff at the college. That dentist quickly realized that Adam’s dental issues were significant and required a more extensive intervention than he could provide. It was then that he referred Adam to Alfons Bucaj, DMD, at Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach.

“I already knew Dr. Bucaj because he serves on the college’s advisory board,” Adam relates. “Dr. Bucaj works pro bono on several of our community events, including Project Christmas Smile at the end of the year.”

Confidence Builder

“When Adam initially came to us, he was in danger of losing the majority of his teeth due to periodontal – or gumdisease,” Dr. Bucaj recalls. “Many of the teeth in his bottom jaw in particular were infected, malposed and essentially unsalvageable.

“Adam’s goal was to return his teeth to full form and function and to have his aesthetic smile restored, and we were committed to getting him to that goal. We agreed that the best treatment option for Adam was to extract his failing teeth and create a full-arch reconstruction of his lower jaw using dental implants.”

Dental implants are small, threaded metal posts that resemble screws. They are surgically placed into the jawbone to serve as the foundation for replacement teeth, which can be a crown when replacing a single tooth, a bridge when replacing multiple teeth or an entire arch of teeth. Dental implants can also be used to stabilize dentures.

Dental implants are often made of a titanium alloy that is not recognized by the body as foreign, so it is not rejected. Implants are surgically implanted into the jawbone, and once implanted, they integrate with the bone tissue to form a secure bond.

Dental implants also stimulate bone growth. This keeps the bone tissue active, and active bone tissue resists reabsorption. This keeps the facial skeleton intact, which helps to maintain the natural shape of the face.

In addition to maintaining facial structure, dental implants look and feel like real teeth. They further improve appearance by restoring a person’s smile lost to failing or missing teeth. This also enhances self-esteem and confidence when facing others in public.

Sequencing and Phasing

“To treat Adam, we began a process called implant treatment sequencing and phasing,” Dr. Bucaj describes. “Phase one of that process is getting the infection under control. Phase two is removing the teeth that are the source of the infection. During a single procedure, we removed Adam’s lower-arch teeth and added bone grafts, which is standard protocol.

“We then allowed for an integration period of about four months. During that time, Adam wore a temporary so that he was never without teeth, and the bone graft material solidified in his lower jaw and was incorporated into his native bone.”

Once the bone grafts are integrated, Dr. Bucaj continued with phase three: strategically placing the implants within Adam’s jawbone. This is completed during a minor surgical procedure.

“The implants must also integrate into the bone, much like bolts have to fuse into wet cement,” Dr. Bucaj explains. “In Adam’s case, that process – called osseointegration – took an additional three months.”

After seven months, Dr. Bucaj completed phase four of the sequencing and phasing process. That involved placing a fixed prosthetic on top of Adam’s implants. The prosthetic the dentist chose to use with Adam is permanent. Adam cannot remove it.

“Essentially, fixed prosthetics are the best type of restoration we offer,” Dr. Bucaj asserts. “Patients who have them can chew and smile with confidence. Fixed prosthetics preserve jawbone integrity by preventing further bone deterioration. And since there are no removable parts, there is no risk of the prosthetic slipping or falling out when patients eat or speak. These restorations are extremely functional, and their success rate is very high.”

Confident and Painless

Dr. Bucaj uses three-dimensional CT scanning technology to determine the precise placement of the implants. He also uses it to design custom-fitted prosthetics that meet the individual’s specifications. The dentist employed this technology when he treated Adam, resulting in an excellent outcome.

“Dr. Bucaj restored my smile so that today I am no longer embarrassed to show my teeth and gums when I smile,” Adam raves. “And the prosthetic is just like my natural teeth. I don’t worry about having loose teeth that might fall out or teeth that are crooked. And with the prosthetic, I can speak with confidence and chew without pain.”

*Patient’s name withheld at his request.
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    • Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach

      Dentist Al Bucaj, DMD, in Vero Beach, Florida practices a full scope of general and cosmetic dentistry with expertise ranging from porcelain veneers to dental implants, crowns and bridges. Dr. Bucaj can now correct a wide variety of what were... Read More

    • Alfons Bucaj, DMD

      Alfons Bucaj, DMD, is a diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and the American Board of Oral Implantology. He is also an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Dr. Bucaj graduated from Nova So... Read More