Teeth Wearing Thin?

Customized treatment plan adds strength, aesthetic appeal.

The four-wheel cart was loaded down with boxes of ammunition and dozens of gallons of fuel, and Robert Lovell was sitting on top of it all that day when a sniper fired into the US military base where Robert was stationed in Vietnam.

“My new crowns look fabulous and feel great.” - Robert

“My new crowns look fabulous and feel great.” – Robert

Considering the payload, Robert considers himself rather lucky the shot hit him in the left shoulder. Had it hit the driver or ricocheted and sparked a fire or explosion, there’s no telling what kind of disaster might have unfolded.

“Every Purple Heart has a story, and that’s mine,” Robert says of the medal awarded to members of the US military wounded or killed in action. “We were on our way to refuel a Cobra gunship (helicopter) when the sniper came through.

“You grow from a boy to a man in a split second when something like that happens to you. I thought that any career I might have (following the military) was going to be very short-lived.”

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Robert’s shoulder injury didn’t even shorten his time in Vietnam. A member of the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, he spent a year there, eventually leaving December 23, 1972.

He later became a maintenance technician.

“I did it all – heat, air conditioning, refrigeration, you name it,” says Robert, 71. “I was cross-trained in five different fields and worked 40-something years with different organizations despite always having some issues with
that shoulder.”

Those aren’t the only issues Robert has dealt with over the years. He also beat cancer, but the radiation treatments that helped him win that battle left him with a dental issue.

“My teeth were getting very thin from all the radiation, and I knew it was just a matter of time before they would start breaking,” Robert relates. “I didn’t want to have to deal with all that, too, so I went to see my guys at DeLand Implant Dentistry.”

Closing the Gap

DeLand Implant Dentistry is the practice of Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS, and his nephew, Jayraj J. Patel, DMD. Robert has been a patient there for about five years. This time, he was treated by
Dr. Jayraj Patel, who agreed there was reason for concern.

“Radiation treatments can take a toll on the body and also affect the teeth. Robert was concerned he might have some serious issues with those teeth breaking on him down the road, so he asked me what we could do to prevent that,” Dr. Patel reports.

“He also had some natural gaps between his two front teeth in the upper arch and his front teeth in the lower arch. I told him that by placing crowns and connecting a couple of them, we could not only strengthen his teeth but fill in those gaps as well.”

Seeing an opportunity to strengthen his teeth and enhance his smile, Robert agreed to the treatment plan proposed by Dr. Patel, who began his work by taking standard impressions of Robert’s teeth. From those impressions, he produced a diagnostic wax-up of the finished product.

“The wax-up allows the patient to actually see what it is we’re proposing,” Dr. Patel explains. “They can see the size and shape of the crowns and what their smile will look like in the end as opposed to guessing.”

Robert’s plan called for Dr. Patel to place new crowns on each of the front four teeth in Robert’s top arch and each of the front four teeth in his bottom arch. Preparing those teeth for crowns and placing temporary crowns was the second phase of the project.

“The temporary crowns are made in our office from the wax-up,” Dr. Patel explains. “The temporary crowns are very similar to the final crowns, and the patient wears those for a week or so while the permanent crowns are being made at the lab.

“During that time, the patient can decide what they like or maybe don’t like about the crowns and, if needed, we make any changes in shape, size or bite in the design of the final crowns and then fabricate the final crowns.”

Depending on the tooth being crowned and the color desired, a variety of materials, including lithium disilicate and zirconia, can be used to create new crowns. 

In all cases, though, the new crowns are monolithic, meaning they are formed from a single block of one material. That creates several natural advantages over older crowns made of porcelain fused to metal. For starters, monolithic crowns are stronger. They are also more aesthetically pleasing, in part because there is no metal collar at the top.

“A Marvelous Job”

The thinning of his teeth did not cause Robert any pain or force him to alter his eating habits. He was fearful, though, those problems might develop if he wasn’t proactive. 

Now, Robert is smiling and eating with more confidence than ever.

“Dr. Patel did a marvelous job,” Robert raves. “My new crowns look fabulous and feel great. There are no issues with them at all, and I can eat without any worries that they’re going to break.

“Once again, my experience with DeLand Implant Dentistry was a pleasant one. I’ve never had a bad experience there, which is why I wholeheartedly
recommend them.

“Everyone is so nice and so professional, and it all starts with (office coordinator) Cathy (Johnson). She’s such a wonderful person, and she’s always up to date on everything. It’s the same with Dr. Patel and the rest of the staff. They’re as good as it gets.”

© 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