Jack is a 61-year-old communications consultant, military veteran and former journalist with a dental history of trauma and substandard dental work.
When he came to the Dental Implant Center’s specialists, he was missing multiple molars, especially on the top arches. One of his front teeth on top had been broken at an angle so it had a fang-like appearance. The teeth of the bottom arch especially, had been ground down very short, because he was a clencher and grinder, and because the lack of molars pushed his chewing to the front teeth, which are not meant for chewing. He had cosmetic dental work done a few years back, including two lower bridges and six porcelain front crowns, but his clenching habit and unbalanced occlusion lead to breakage, crowns breaking off and cracking.
Because Jack still had a good number of teeth that could be saved, the Smile Team determined that he was able to use a fixed bridge anchored on natural teeth on both top and bottom. Because of the long time missing his top molars, he did not have enough bone to use dental implants to help anchor the top arch. in the back. Fortunately, the flexible options of the advanced material allowed the construction of molar extensions in the back, supported on the hard gum and the front teeth anchors, so the molar chewing areas were restored.
“A lot of my life, personality and self-confidence have been affected by my teeth,” Jack said. “In the second grade, my playground girlfriend ran up behind me when I was drinking at the fountain, and gave me a hug, smashing my mouth into the faucet. Half of my permanent tooth went down the drain.”
“The rest of my school years were spent with a shiny silver tooth in front. Since then, I have perfected the art of the closed-lip smile over my life. I’m sure that never communicated the warmth I might feel inside. For 50 years, I went without a full smile. Since getting my new smile, it’s like I have a new superpower. Now I get a thrill watching people light up when I smile freely. It lights us both up!”
Where he once saw dental fixtures as a mechanical solution to fix a problem, he said he learned that he himself is part of the solution, and he has had to take responsibility for his own smile.
“I learned so much about the importance of teeth and dental health and its overall impact,” Jack said. “I wonder how much of my Type 2 diabetes has been caused or worsened by gum disease, for example. I learned about sleep apnea and my snoring that had been getting worse – I learned that a lot of the aches and pains and lack of energy were linked to an obstructed airway and an out-of-balance bite. I stopped thinking about these things as a normal part of aging.”
“I also learned about taking responsibility for my own smile. I used to blame the dentist for the failure of my repairs, but now I know that my own body is pretty strong and can destroy teeth, crowns and bridges. That’s something I need to deal with, by adjusting my habits. I’ve worked on my posture, and worked on my clenching. The new teeth help tremendously by giving me a fresh start with a balanced bite. Now it’s up to me to control my chewing until it becomes natural again, in the back and with less force than my mouth is capable of.”
Jack says there have been challenges and adjustments.
“When I first got my transitional bridges, I was pretty uncomfortable with the fit. It seemed like my tongue was crowded at the sides, for instance. The doctor told me to be patient, and explained that one of the problems with my tooth losses was that both cheeks and my tongue had grown unnaturally large. This was part of the problem with my snoring. I trusted her, and sure enough, my mouth and tongue adapted.”
“My new smile has not only made me happier and really improved my interaction with the world, but I’m also getting more rest and am working on getting rid of some of those other ‘signs of aging.”
“I’m very grateful to the doctors and technology.”