Put On A Happy Face

Two approaches to denture delivery have singular goal: restored smiles.

Lela Seiders Headshot

Lela is thrilled with the results of her Dentures in a Day procedure.

Lela Seiders has a way with animals. Even as a child, she found it easier to communicate with horses and dogs than with humans. Lela cultivated her affinity for animals into a career as a racehorse trainer and animal behaviorist that spanned nearly 50 years.

“I was born in the Chinese Year of the Horse, and I started training horses when I was 9 years old,” Lela details. “I specialized in horses that were abused by other trainers. I rehabbed them into productive racehorses. There are no classes you can take to learn to train horses. Either you can do it or you can’t.

“My other specialty was dogs with behavioral problems. I received great satisfaction in letting them be their authentic selves instead of the negative animals somebody else turned them into. But I didn’t actually train the dogs. I trained people to train their dogs.”

Before Lela retired, she spent 10 years in corporate America as a sales and marketing consultant to large pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Abbott. Her work with animals gave her a leg up in that role.

“It was an easy transition for me into the pharmaceutical industry because new drugs are used in the animal industry first,” Lela expounds. “I actually knew more than the pharmaceutical companies about how the drugs worked.”

Lela took many nasty spills during her time as a horse trainer. She suffered multiple concussions and 20 broken bones. Those injuries eventually healed, but one mishap resulted in a dental issue that plagued her for most of her adult life.

“A horse accidentally went over the top of me and crushed me against the asphalt,” Lela remembers. “My jaw was broken in half and had to be wired shut. The pressure crushed my teeth, and they just crumbled and fell out over the years.

“I couldn’t eat apples or anything else that required a lot of chewing due to constant infections in my teeth and exposed nerves. And I always covered my mouth when I smiled because my teeth looked so bad.”

When Lela’s dental situation deteriorated to a point where she had to take action, she turned to Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, a skilled general, cosmetic and emergency dentist at Venetian Dental, which operates offices in Venice, Sarasota and Osprey.

“When Lela came to us in 2017, she had only four teeth remaining, which were supporting partial dentures,” Dr. Gaukhman reports. “But those four teeth were failing, so I recommended extracting the teeth and fitting her with a traditional full upper denture and a lower denture secured by dental implants.”

Single-Visit Smiles

Generally, upper dentures fit securely in the mouth without dental implants because the palate creates sufficient suction to hold the appliances in place. Lower dentures are a different story.

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

“It’s 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 the reason I recommended placing two implants to secure Lela’s lower denture.”

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

“Implant dentures provide added strength for biting and chewing,” Dr. Gaukhman informs. “And because the dentures are stable, the patient experiences better speech, better aesthetics and greater self-confidence. They don’t have to worry about the denture coming out during dinner, conversation or activity. And while teeth decay, dental implants never decay.”

“I used to put my hand in front of my mouth when I smiled, but now I just smile. That’s a huge confidence-booster.” – Lela

In treating Lela, Dr. Gaukhman used Dentures in a Day, a single-visit restoration technique, to give her a new smile. As part of the process, Dr. Gaukhman places the implants on the same day he extracts the teeth. In most cases, temporary dentures are also created that day in Venetian Dental’s on-site dental laboratory.

“The best thing about Dentures in a Day is that, in most cases, patients come to the office in the morning and by the afternoon their dentures are ready,” Dr. Gaukhman explains. “Patients can literally come in with broken teeth, failing teeth or infections and leave that same day with perfect smiles.”

Dr. Gaukhman begins Dentures in a Day by taking impressions of the patient’s teeth. It takes a few hours for the lab to fabricate the dentures, but once they’re ready, he extracts the teeth, puts in the implants and places the dentures right away.

“This way, patients do not have to walk around without teeth,” the dentist contends. “And by placing the dentures immediately after tooth extraction, they act as a bandage to minimize swelling and bleeding.”

The patient wears the temporary denture for three to six months following implant placement. The time allows for 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,” Dr. Gaukhman assures.

Rocky Road

When Lynda Fischer was 20 years old, she worked at a US Air Force base in her native England. The American soldiers stationed there repeatedly urged her to relocate to the United States.

Lynda Fischer holding up a scrapbook

Lynda shows off one of the scrapbooks she enjoys creating in her spare time.

“They said I would love it in America,” remembers Lynda, now 78. “So one day in 1965, I decided to move. My parents were upset but supported my decision. I chose to relocate to Boston because I was told it was the closest thing to England in America, which it wasn’t.

“When I got to Boston, I got a job as a nanny for a couple who had four children at the time and had another one on the way. I didn’t like working for them at all. The husband was OK and the children were adorable, but the wife was absolutely awful.

“I was having dental problems at that time, and I went to a dentist who said, I have 12 children, and my wife could use some help. Let me buy out your contract, and you can come work for us. I went on to work for them for 2½ years, which were absolutely delightful. Then I met my husband and moved to California and eventually to Florida.”

Lynda’s dental problems go back to childhood. Unlike the US, England doesn’t put fluoride in its water. Fluoride is a mineral that protects the tooth’s enamel layer. Without fluoride, Lynda’s teeth slowly decayed, and she lost them one by one.

“I had false teeth by the time I was 13 years old, and it’s really hard for a 13-year-old to lose all her teeth,” Lynda maintains. “I started off with two false teeth, then I went to half a plate, then a full plate and finally whole-mouth dentures. By the time I got to America, I had all false teeth on the top and bottom.”

Over the years, Lynda’s upper denture has been replaced twice, but her lower denture was the original created for her in England. She required replacements for her upper denture because her bottom denture was made of porcelain, which is so hard that it wore away the teeth in her top denture. Even her bottom denture was not indestructible, however.

“One day awhile back, I dropped my bottom denture while brushing it and it broke in half,” Lynda describes. “I went to a dentist, who fixed it, but he said I would never be able to have it repaired again.

“Then, a few weeks ago, I was in the bathroom when my bottom denture fell out of my mouth and hit the floor. At first, I didn’t see anything wrong, but when I put them back in my mouth, my tongue kept flicking at something on the side. It turned out half a tooth was gone, and it left a razor’s edge.

“I told my husband I had to see a dentist immediately, and this was on a Saturday. He eventually found Venetian Dental, and when I called, the dentist himself answered. He said he could see me if I came right away.”

Dr. Gaukhman performed a temporary fix on Lynda’s lower denture to get her through the emergency, but he recommended new upper and lower dentures for a long-term solution.

“The repair on Lynda’s lower denture was not meant to last forever, and the teeth in her upper denture were so worn down she could barely chew on them,” Dr. Gaukhman recalls. “The best course of action was to replace her damaged dentures with new upper and lower appliances.”

Face Forward

Venetian Dental offers most patients Dentures in a Day, but in treating Lynda, who accepted the recommendation for a long-term fix, Dr. Gaukhman did not follow that process.

“Lynda had existing dentures and was not in a rush to get new ones, so we took a little extra time to fabricate and fit her dentures,” Dr. Gaukhman enlightens. “The process we used with her took about two weeks.”

During that period, Dr. Gaukhman and the lab technicians met with Lynda multiple times to ensure the dentures fit correctly. The team also worked to make sure Lynda was completely happy with the bite as well as the overall appearance of the dentures.

“We create dentures from start to finish right in our office,” Dr. Gaukhman elaborates. “First, we design the dentures based on the patient’s face. Then, the lab technicians create the denture teeth in various colors and shapes to match the design and the patient’s preferences. The dentures we create in our lab are custom-made for each patient. Ours is not a one-denture-fits-all approach.”

During her visits to Venetian Dental, Linda became comfortable with Dr. Gaukhman and his staff. She especially grew to appreciate the work of the lab technician who worked with her to create the teeth for her new dentures.

“As soon as I met him, I knew I was going to be safe because he didn’t do anything without measuring at least 20 times,” Lynda reports. “The first time I went to Venetian Dental, he measured me and made a temporary plate. When I went back the following week, he had made a mold of my denture teeth. He selected colors to get the teeth as close to what my teeth were before. The next week, I went back, and there they were. I put the new dentures in my mouth, and they were exactly what I wanted. I was so pleased.”

“Huge Confidence Booster”

Lela, whose lower denture is secured by two dental implants, says she’s absolutely thrilled with the results of her Dentures in a Day procedure.

“My lower denture snaps onto the two implants, and it stays put,” Lela describes. “It doesn’t move at all when I talk or eat. Now I can eat foods that I couldn’t before. And there’s no speech impediment from it.

“My new dentures are absolutely perfect. I can’t believe how great they are.” – Lynda

“My dentures look great, too. Very natural. I used to put my hand in front of my mouth when I smiled, but now I just smile. That’s a huge confidence-booster.”

She lauds Dr. Gaukhman for his compassion, skill, professionalism and perfectionism.

“There have been times that I’ve called Venetian Dental and Dr. Gaukhman answers the phone himself. How many doctors’ offices do you call and the doctor answers the phone?” Lela inquires. “That really impressed me about Dr. Gaukhman.”

Lynda’s journey to a new smile differed slightly because she required a few more appointments. She notes that Dr. Gaukhman always made those visits convenient for her.

“When I asked Dr. Gaukhman if I could go to the Sarasota office instead of traveling all the way to Venice, he said, No problem. The technician can meet with you there,” she reveals. “So a lot of my appointments were at the Siesta Key office, which was easier for me.

“As for the final outcome, well, I’m ecstatic. I keep looking at myself and smiling. Before, I very seldom smiled with my teeth showing. Nobody ever knew I had any bottom teeth because they didn’t see them. But now, I show my bottom teeth when I smile.

“My new dentures are absolutely perfect. I can’t believe how great they are. I’m really happy with them. They’re worth every dime. Dr. Gaukhman is so good, and he got me into the office very quickly and easily. I highly recommend him.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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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