One and Done

Single implant among restoration options for replacing failing or missing teeth.

Photo by Jordan Pysz

Implant surgery put the finishing touches on Michelle’s flawless smile.

Michelle Wireman is a busy mom, an active runner and a dedicated health care professional who has spent the past 21 years literally breathing life into people who struggle with one of the body’s most critical functions.

“I’m a respiratory therapist,” Michelle explains. “I operate lifesupport machines, give breathing treatments and provide rehabilitation to patients with conditions such as emphysema, asthma, cystic fibrosis and COPD.

“My entire career has been in health care. I started out as a nurse’s aide when I was fifteen, and I was talking to a respiratory therapist one day who suggested I look into respiratory therapy. I did, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

An Indiana native, Michelle moved to Zephyrhills when she was 25. She raised her daughter there but later moved to St. Petersburg to enjoy the beach life. All through those moves, she’s fought a constant battle with her teeth.

“I’m one of those unlucky people who doesn’t have perfectly strong teeth,” says the 49-year-old, whose dental troubles mounted some 15 years ago when a cavity developed in a lower left molar.

“I was a single parent at the time, and I really couldn’t afford to get it fixed,” Michelle explains. “The cavity eventually got to a point where it was unfixable, and it was either get an implant or have the tooth removed. So…”

Her dentist removed the tooth. For the next 15 years, Michelle made do while she put her daughter through college. During that time, she limited chewing to the right side of her mouth to avoid discomfort.

Once her daughter was finished with college, Michelle decided to get some restorative work done on her teeth. That commitment took her to a dentist who restored her failing teeth. That left only the gap where the molar used to be.

To correct that, one dentist suggested Michelle would need two implants. Thinking that was unnecessary, she visited another dentist who also recommended a dental implant but referred her to Jason B. Blundell, DDS, a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Coastal Jaw Surgery, which has locations throughout Tampa Bay.

A Conservative Approach

During his initial consultation with her, Dr. Blundell immediately earned Michelle’s trust by explaining to her that a single implant was all she would need to gain the stability necessary to support a replacement tooth.

“I felt really confident with what Dr. Blundell had to say, what he was going to do,” Michelle recalls. “I could tell he had my best interest in mind, and so I agreed that we would go ahead and do the one implant.”

Dental implants are titanium-based root shaped screws that are surgically placed into the jawbone. A single implant supports an abutment and a crown that are attached to the implant, creating a new tooth. Two or more implants can support a fixed bridge.

Once they’re placed into the jawbone, dental implants typically require between two to four months to heal. It is at that point that the abutment and crown can be added. During the waiting period, patients typically wear temporary crowns or a bridge.

Depending on how long the teeth have been missing, some patients may need to undergo a bone-grafting procedure to ensure they have enough bone to support the implants.

“I’ve had a lot of other dental work done, and I’ve had other surgeons, but this is the best I’ve ever had, and it was a flawless surgery. It went perfectly.” – Michelle

In some cases, the bonegrafting procedure can be done at the same time the implant is placed. In others, the bonegrafting procedure is done first, and the new bone is given time – anywhere between three and six months – to heal before the implant is placed.

Dr. Blundell points out that many options are available when it comes to implants. He works to educate each patient on what treatment will provide the best results.

“If a patient comes to me and they have a single tooth that needs to be extracted, we typically extract the tooth, possibly place an implant at the same time as the extraction, and then allow that area to heal for a period of time. The restoring dentist then provides the crown, or the fake tooth, that goes onto that implant.”

When multiple teeth are failing, Dr. Blundell says he can place multiple implants in the jaw and connect an implant-supported fixed bridge or denture. In some cases, Dr. Blundell partners with the practice’s prosthodontist, Philip Hedger, DMD, to provide sameday service for failing teeth.

“We set the patient up for a surgery date, where we extract the remaining teeth and place multiple dental implants,” Dr. Blundell says. “Dr. Hedger is then able to place a temporary prosthesis or a denture that is screwed onto those implants on that same day, and the patient typically goes home after the surgery with that in place.”

Over the next four months, Dr. Hedger is able to tweak the temporary teeth until the permanent bridge or denture is available.

Seamless Solution

Because Michelle was missing only a single tooth, Dr. Blundell was able to treat her using a single implant. She also required a bone graft, but Dr. Blundell was able to perform the bone graft and place the implant at the same time.

“I had very little swelling and very little pain going forward after that,” Michelle says. “I didn’t really even have any bruising either. The whole procedure went seamlessly, and I liked that.”

After placing her implant and overseeing her healing, Dr. Blundell sent Michelle back to her dentist six months later for a permanent crown.

“There were quite a few steps to it, but everything was just flawless the entire time,” Michelle says of her experience with Coastal Jaw Surgery. “It’s nice to have a tooth again. It looks great, and it’s really stable.”

She says she would recommend Dr. Blundell and Coastal Jaw Surgery to anyone who needs implants.

“I’ve had a lot of other dental work done, and I’ve had other surgeons, but this is the best I’ve ever had, and it was a flawless surgery,” she exudes. “It went perfectly. I can eat on both sides [of my mouth] now.

“And I can’t say enough about the staff and the facility, which was beautiful and very clean. Everyone was extremely friendly and very helpful. Dr. Blundell is very friendly and very honest.

“He was very good at explaining exactly what the procedure was going to be like and what to expect. He was conservative with what he chose to do, and the choices he made weren’t really about making money. They were about what was going to be best for me.”


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    • Coastal Jaw Surgery

      With more than 30 years of extensive experience, their mission at Coastal Jaw Surgery is to provide excellent surgical care for their patients in a safe, efficient and compassionate manner. Their team of oral surgeons is unmatched in ex... Read More

    • Jason B. Blundell, DDS

      Jason B. Blundell, DDS, is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in practice for the past ten years. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell sciences from University of Florida and his dental degree from Virgin... Read More