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Choosing the Right Dental Solution: Crowns and Partials vs. Dental Implants

Delve into the decision-making process that led Dale to opt for crowns and partials, saving time, teeth, and costs compared to dental implants

Jordan Pysz / iFoundMyDoctor.com
Dale is no longer hesitant to smile and is thrilled that she can chew properly and eat anything she wishes. Dr. Finer used existing teeth to anchor partials, then crowned the teeth on her smile line.

The first person you’re likely to see when you walk into HCA Florida Atlantis Orthopedics is Dale Jones, a self-described “multitasker” whose job is to keep the practice running smoothly and ensure that patients are seen in a timely manner. “I work the front desk, so I check patients in and out, answer the phone and make sure the doctors’ schedules are maintained,” Dale says. “I consider myself a great team player who is willing to help out in any way I can.” Though she’s relatively new to the office, Dale, 54, has been helping medical practices run smoothly for more than 20 years. And for 20 years she has done so with a smile – even though she was hesitant to smile. “I didn’t take very good care of my teeth when I was younger, and as I got older, I became insecure about my smile,” Dale admits. “My teeth were discolored and uneven; some even looked a little jagged. So, I more or less smirked instead of smiled.” Dale was also unhappy with the function of her teeth. The absence of several molars made it hard to chew properly and forced her to stick to a soft-food diet, which she disliked but tolerated. Still, it wasn’t until recently – after learning that a distant relative died from an infection traced to a failing tooth ­– that Dale decided to do something about her oral health. “I believe that when it’s your time, it’s your time, but if (my relative) had taken better care of herself dental-wise … you just never know,” Dale says. “So, to me, that was a red flag. That was a sign that, Hey, it’s time for me to take care of this.” The next step was to find a dentist to do the work, which she expected to be extensive. She didn’t have to look hard, though, because her daughter works for Town Square Dentistry in Boynton Beach, where Dale was treated by Libby Finer, DMD. “I went there with the intention of getting all of my remaining teeth pulled and replaced with dental implants,” Dale says. “But after she completed my examination, Dr. Finer said, You don’t need dental implants. With what you have here, I can make this work in another way.”

Change of Plans

Dr. Finer first saw Dale in June and quickly determined she could save Dale time, teeth and a lot of money by rebuilding her smile with crowns and partials rather than implants. “I suggested restoring her smile with crowns and partials partly because she had great bone and no severe infection or decay around her existing teeth,” Dr. Finer says. “She also wanted to do this sooner rather than later, and the implant process takes some time.” Dental implants are screw-like bodies that are placed in the jawbone surgically. The implants then need several months to heal and for new bone to grow around them and stabilize them. Once they reach that point, dental implants become the foundation for an abutment and replacement teeth, which can be a crown cemented or screwed onto a single abutment, a partial bridge affixed to one or more implants, or a full denture fastened to several implants. Further extending the process is the potential need for bone grafting ahead of the placement of the implants. Bone grafts are often necessary with patients who have been missing teeth for an extended period. The reason, according to Dr. Finer, is that bone mass deteriorates when there is no pressure from chewing to stimulate natural bone regeneration. Dale lived for several years without 10 of her back teeth — all of them molars and premolars in the upper and lower arches — so she would have required some bone grafting had she opted for dental implants. “The good news is that Dale still had her second molars, the ones that are farthest back,” Dr. Finer adds. “So, for both arches, I suggested creating partials that would be anchored in the back by the existing molars and in the front by her upper and lower canine teeth.” Partials are often secured to existing teeth with metal clasps, but Dr. Finer told Dale that her partials would be made of a flexible acrylic that is the same color as healthy gum tissue and is therefore more aesthetically pleasing than metal clasps. The two partials recommended by Dr. Finer would restore Dale’s ability to chew properly, but they would not improve the appearance of her front teeth. To resolve that issue, Dr. Finer recommended crowning all the teeth in Dale’s smile line. “Then she showed me some pictures from her portfolio of some of the patients she’s done that for, and I could not believe it,” Dale remembers. “The work she’s done is incredible, so I said right then and there, OK, let’s do this. “I almost couldn’t believe I was saying that because I went into this totally prepared mentally to get the dental implants. I had even called my CareCredit and received an increase in my limit, so I was definitely ready to go with the implants. “But Dr. Finer took my hand and said, You’ve seen the pictures from my portfolio. Don’t worry about a thing. I’m going to explain every detail as we go, and if you don’t like something we’ll change it. So, I placed my trust in her, and I am so glad I did. “Dr. Finer is the kindest, most gentle dentist I have ever known. Just as she said she would, she explained everything she was doing for me as we went along. She is truly an angel and a lifesaver, and she’s so humble. I’ve never met anyone like her.”

Tears of Joy

Dale agreed to Dr. Finer’s plan during her first visit to Town Square Dentistry. Dr. Finer began the work a couple of days later and completed it over the next few weeks. Now Dale has a smile that has literally brought her tears of joy. “I was fit with the partials and the final crowns in early August, and on the very first day that I had my new smile, I received so many compliments that I had to tell everyone, Stop, you’re making me cry,” Dale remembers. “But that’s just part of it. “Not only am I smiling all the time now, but I’m able to chew food properly, and I’m eating a lot of things that I couldn’t eat before, like fried calamari. That’s one of my favorites, but for so long I was unable to chew it. Now I can. “What Dr. Finer has done for me is just amazing. She did a complete one-eighty on my mouth, a complete one-eighty, and I’m so happy with the results. I trusted her to take good care of me, and she did, and I would absolutely recommend her to others because she’s a miracle worker.”

Libby Finer, DMD

Featured in Choosing the Right Dental Solution: Crowns and Partials vs. Dental Implants

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