Restoring Smiles With Bridges, Implants

Comprehensive treatment plans give hope to those with missing or failing teeth.

Kendra Fuller talking on a cell phonr

Kendra Fuller

That old saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul,” is a fitting motto for Kendra Fuller’s employer. After all, this 33-year-old works full time in the scheduling department of a busy, multiphysician ophthalmology practice.

It’s a position that keeps Kendra quite busy as well.

“I answer more than 100 telephone calls and more than 200 voicemails every day,” she shares. “I also handle insurance eligibility as well as treatment verifications and authorizations. I love my job because I enjoy helping people.”

When Kendra’s not working, she likes to travel. She especially likes to cruise and tries to squeeze in a voyage at least once or twice each year.

She discovered her love of cruising about six years ago.

“My husband and I went on a casino boat out of Port Canaveral and had a great time, so we decided to look into taking a cruise,” Kendra remembers. “Our first was in 2016, and we loved it. It was a great opportunity to see other countries and learn their cultures.”

While most cruise passengers strike a pose for the camera, Kendra long sought to avoid the lens. The reason: She was displeased with the appearance of her smile.

“I’m so happy with my smile that I am just beside myself.” – Kendra

“I had two missing teeth on the upper left side of my mouth that were visible in my smile line and made me feel insecure,” Kendra elaborates. “I was hesitant to smile and felt uncomfortable whenever I took a picture.

“One of the teeth was a root canal that went bad. The dentist started the process but never completed it. Because of that, I was later told that I needed a reconstructive root canal, which costs lots of money. I decided against that.”

Advanced decay led to the deterioration of the adjacent tooth, leaving her with the empty space she was very self-conscious about. Anatomy of a dental implant

Her hope was to have her missing teeth replaced with dental implants topped by crowns, but she had been told in the past that she was not a candidate for implants.

“I was told implants weren’t an option for me because I had too much bone loss in my jaw,” she relates. “I just let it go, but I got to a point where I feared this would be my forever smile because two dentists said they couldn’t help me.

“Then one day, I was driving past Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne and noticed a sign that said, ‘Free Implant Consult.’ I thought, Let me get a second opinion.

Visiting a dentist was easier said than done for Kendra. Her dental anxiety was at such a degree at that time that even seeking a second opinion on dental implants added to her stress level.

“I was also anxious that I would be told yet again that implants weren’t an option for me and I’d be stuck with this smile forever,” she says. “But I figured that it can’t hurt to try.”

At Implant Dentistry of Florida, Jordan Robbins, DMD, and Alejandro Martinez, DMD, provide a full range of implant, cosmetic and general dentistry procedures. They perform all phases of dental implant surgery and multiple options for implant restoration.

“When Kendra came to our practice a little over a year ago, she had missing teeth on the upper right side and infected roots on the upper left side,” Dr. Robbins explains. “Because of the infection, the remaining tooth roots on the left side required extraction. Kendra’s goal was to replace her missing teeth with dental implants, but the infection had significantly damaged the surrounding bone.”

Dental Implants

Dental implants are titanium, screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. Once an implant is placed, new bone naturally grows and fuses to it to form a solid foundation for replacement teeth.

The replacement teeth can be a single crown that is cemented or screwed onto an implant, a multi-tooth bridge that can be affixed to two or more implants, or a full denture that can snap on and off of a series of implants.

Some patients require a bone grafting procedure at the time of implant placement or in preparation for implants. Bone grafts enhance the volume of the jawbone so that it can properly support the implant.

During her initial examination, Dr. Robbins confirmed the previous diagnosis of extensive bone loss in the area of Kendra’s missing teeth and infected roots. Unlike the other dentists, however, Dr. Robbins had a solution for the problem. It would be possible for her to have two implants in the upper left area and one in the upper right.

“I simply recommended grafting to boost the volume of available bone,” Dr. Robbins confides. “At her next appointment, we extracted the tooth roots on the upper left side and grafted those areas.”

Patients undergoing bone grafting typically need to wait up to six months for the new bone to be strong enough to support implants. Following a three-month healing period, Dr. Robbins determined Kendra’s grafting sites were ready for implant placement. Two implants were then placed using a digitally designed surgical guide.

Kendra returned after giving the surrounding bone three months to completely fuse with the implants. Dr. Robbins confirmed the stability of the implants and took digital impressions with the practice’s CEREC CAD/CAM system, which was used to make her new crowns.

CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, a tool that uses computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to create customized restorations in the dental office.

After just a few days, Kendra’s crowns were delivered, completing a smile makeover that helped her feel comfortable and confident.

“Kendra was an apprehensive patient when we first met, but her dental anxiety has improved substantially since this process began. She has done incredibly well during the treatment process. I am really proud of her,” Dr. Robbins confirms.

“We decided to utilize IV sedation for Kendra’s extractions and bone graft, which made her very relaxed during the procedures. When the time came for Kendra’s implant surgery, she only needed oral sedation, and she did great with that as well. The best news is that we achieved a wonderful result for her while simultaneously helping her conquer her dental fears.

“Kendra is now looking forward to continuing her smile makeover by replacing the missing teeth on the upper right side.

Our plan there is to place just one implant.

“Although she had two missing teeth on the right side, we’re placing only one implant because her wisdom tooth shifted forward and filled some of the open space. As a result, one implant with a crown will be sufficient to fill the remaining space and restore her function.”

Kendra is very pleased with Dr. Robbins’ treatment process at Implant Dentistry of Florida, and is thrilled with the outcome.

“I’m so happy with my smile that I am just beside myself,” Kendra raves. “I’m beyond happy and so thankful I got that second opinion. I feel like I have brand new teeth, and you wouldn’t know they’re implants from looking at them. I’m always smiling now, and I’m eager to take pictures anytime.”

Multiple Options

Andrew Weston lifting weights

Andrew is pumped about his new smile.

For the past three years, Andrew Weston has served his community as a deputy with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

The father of two daughters and one son always wanted to be a cop, but he waited until his children were grown and had children of their own.

“At that point, I finally had the chance to do the job that everybody deemed super dangerous,” relates Andrew, 40. “Right now, I’m just a patrol cop. But in addition to patrolling, I also take calls for service and put people who do things they shouldn’t be doing in jail if that’s where they need to be.”

Before entering law enforcement, Andrew worked in the fitness industry, which was a good fit for this energetic Florida native.

“I worked at a couple of local gyms as a personal trainer,” he expounds. “I also traveled around the country teaching others to be personal trainers. I still work out regularly.”

For fun, Andrew enjoys outdoor activities, such as wakeboarding and waterskiing with his family. During the winter months, he travels out west to snow ski.

Andrew loves his job and active lifestyle, but he hasn’t always been enamored with his smile. Having had trouble with tooth decay since childhood, his lower left molars became so deteriorated that they began to fall out.

“It got to the point that it was really difficult to chew because there were no molars on the bottom to match up with the molars on top,” Andrew explains. “I knew I needed to get replacement molars on the bottom so I could chew again.”

Andrew began looking for a provider who could create a comprehensive treatment plan for his dental needs. A friend recommended Implant Dentistry of Florida, where Andrew met with Dr. Martinez.

“Mr. Weston presented to our office with missing teeth on the lower left side,” Dr. Martinez recalls. “During the course of my examination, I discovered he had four lower front teeth that had shifted away from the jawbone and become loose due to his bite.

“Those four teeth had to be extracted, but because of a lack of bone in that area, dental implants weren’t an option. So, we replaced those teeth with a long-span bridge that we designed and developed in our office.”

Long-Span Bridge

An example of a long-span bridge being bonded to two abutments.

The bridge is made of solid porcelain, replaces the four missing teeth and is bonded in place to four healthy teeth that are well-embedded in Andrew’s jawbone. It was fabricated on-site using Implant Dentistry of Florida’s CEREC CAD/CAM system and the MC X5 milling unit.

The MC X5 quickly generates precisely fitting restorations such as crowns, bridges and veneers by cutting them from a disc of solid ceramic material.

“In our office, we’ve dubbed the MC X5 the megamill because it’s a very large mill. It can create long-span bridges out of what is in essence a hockey puck of solid porcelain. This unit is not found in most dental offices. Long-span bridges usually have to be sent out to a dental laboratory, but because we have our own lab on-site and the MC X5, we are able to fabricate them right here,” explains Dr. Martinez.

“In Mr. Weston’s case, I started the process by extracting the four loose teeth and preparing the teeth that would serve as anchors for the bridge. I then digitally scanned his upper and lower arches and sent the scans to our software. This enabled me to design the bridge so the upper and lower teeth are in proper relation to each other.”

Once the bridge was designed, Dr. Martinez sent it to the MC X5 to be milled. He followed up by applying the proper glaze and stain so that it would match Andrew’s existing teeth, and then he placed the bridge in a furnace to bake the glaze and harden the material.

“In addition to the long-span bridge, we placed a single dental implant with a crown in an empty space on Mr. Weston’s lower left side. The implant replaces one of his missing molars,” the dentist relates. “The implant provides added stability to his bite. By placing the implant, the chewing forces are spread out evenly, so Mr. Weston is not placing excessive force on the bridge. His dentition is now in balance.”

Like Kendra, Andrew is quite happy with his treatment process and outcome.

“Dr. Martinez created a full porcelain bridge that’s eight teeth wide and goes all the way across the front of my mouth on the bottom,” Andrew describes. “The bridge goes back far enough that I can chew with it.

“I’m very pleased with how everything turned out. The bridge looks great. The color and shape match my top teeth, which are very white. Dr. Martinez used his 3D scanning system to make sure the bridge actually matched up with the teeth in my mouth, so my teeth look the way they should.

“Having the permanent bridge has definitely changed how I view my smile. My wife says I smile more, and when I smile it looks natural. Having the bridge and implant in the back feels like I have molars all around, like I have a full mouth of teeth. Mentally, that feels good.”

Beyond Satisfied

Andrew is very thankful to his friend for recommending Implant Dentistry of Florida, and for meeting Dr. Martinez.

“I said to Dr. Martinez, It sounds like you’re the best person to take this job, so I’m putting my faith in your work. Do it the way you’ve been trained,” Andrew enthuses. “And I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The bridge turned out really good.”

“My wife says I smile more, and when I smile it looks natural.”– Andrew

Kendra is equally enthusiastic about Dr. Robbins.

“She’s fantastic,” Kendra raves. “Dr. Robbins was the best part of my visit to Implant Dentistry of Florida. Her bedside manner was beyond comforting and professional, especially since I was anxious to start my treatment journey.

“Both Dr. Robbins and her staff took their time with me. They were patient and very understanding regarding my anxiety.

They made sure I was comfortable with every step of the process and even called me following each procedure, which was greatly appreciated.

“I highly recommend Dr. Robbins to anybody, including all my family and friends. I do nothing but brag about the entire process at Implant Dentistry of Florida.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Implant Dentistry of Florida

      The 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 dentistry, as well as sta... Read More

    • Jordan Robbins, DMD

      Jordan Robbins, DMD, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in biology in 2012 and earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 2017, graduating cum laude from the University of Florida College of Denti... Read More

    • Alejandro Martinez, DMD

      Alejandro Martinez, DMD, graduated cum laude from Utah Valley University and earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at Temple University in 2019. Dr. Martinez also completed the 300-hour American Academy of Implant Dentistry MaxiCourse in ... Read More