FINDING THE RIGHT DENTIST AND LABORATORY CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
by Kelley Tamplin photographs supplied courtesy of NuCraft Dental Arts
Christa Hinzman has been a bruxer for as long as she can remember. In fact, she recalls that as a little girl, she would wake her parents, who were sleeping down the hall, with the sounds of her teeth grinding. Hinzman is far from alone. Bruxism is extremely common. According to American Dental Association 30-40 million are affected by this disorder.
For those unfamiliar with bruxism, it is the involuntary grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep. Bruxism can be mild but, if not treated, can lead to more severe problems. It often removes critical portions of healthy enamel and may cause facial pain. It can also result in chipped, broken, reduced teeth, loose teeth or even receding gums.
In Christa’s case, she would often suffer from morning headaches and jaw tenderness.
Additionally, she had noticed that in the last 10 years, her teeth were slowly getting smaller and smaller. “I had ground my teeth down over the years until they looked like baby teeth,” she says.
She became so self-conscious that when she visited with people and they laughed and joked, she would find herself putting her hand over her mouth. When someone eventually referred to her teeth as “cute,” her self-consciousness worsened. She knew that, as a commercial insurance sales representative for Johnson Insurance Services, her smile was a very important asset to her career.
Her smile was affecting her both personally and professionally, and she was ready to do something about it.
Christa began doing her homework and felt like veneers would be the solution to her cosmetic problem. With the full support of her husband and family, Christa began seeking a dentist for the treatment. She was eager to find one that would be a great fit for her. A colleague referred her to Dr. Glenn Alex and, after speaking with him, she immediately felt right at home. “Dr. Alex has a certain confidence that really impressed me. I could tell that he was very knowledgeable, and he and his staff were so welcoming. I felt at ease from the very beginning and left my consultation knowing that he was who I was going to work with.”
After her choice was made, she scheduled an appointment for a new patient examination. For Dr. Alex, this appointment, at the very beginning of the treatment
process, is imperative in achieving the best possible results for his patients. It is during this very comprehensive and thorough exam that he will acquire all the appropriate diagnostic records and information to proceed with treatment. This is also when he and the patient will discuss their goals and expectations for treatment.
Specifically, Christa wanted to improve her smile and have longer, wider teeth with long term sustainability. She shared her desire for veneers, but Dr. Alex was concerned with this material choice. During the exam process, he was very surprised to discover the extent of wear on her teeth. Hers was one of the most severe cases that he had seen at her age. In fact, Christa had worn her front teeth down to nearly half of their original length.
While her teeth were otherwise very healthy, Dr. Alex was concerned about utilizing veneers in her case. He was afraid that the lack of underlying tooth structure would compromise the longevity and stability of her restorations. For further consideration, he consulted his long-time laboratory partner, NuCraft Dental Arts
For Dr. Alex, it is very important to have the laboratory involved from the very beginning, during this diagnostic phase. “They are just as important a member of
my team as any other specialist I work with,” he claims. He has partnered with NuCraft for more than 20 years and fully trusts in their knowledge, skill and judgment of both materials and treatment options. If they were to advise another type of restoration, he would trust their expertise and utilize another material such as porcelain fused to metal crowns. However, after meeting with the patient and reviewing the case, Terry Fohey, CEO of NuCraft, felt confident that Christa was a good candidate for veneers. He felt there was tremendous value in restoring her smile in this non-invasive fashion and that
it would allow her to preserve almost all of her existing tooth structure.
With NuCraft’s recommendations, Dr. Alex proceeded with a treatment plan that included 10 veneers created in a three-phase process. In the first phase, he created a wax-up on a diagnostic model and a computer mock-up to visually demonstrate what her teeth might look like with the restored length. After seeing her possible results, Christa claims she was absolutely “giddy” with excitement.
The next step was to create her restorations in plastic, or what is often referred to as a temporary restoration. Dr. Alex considers this the “test-drive” phase. It can take a bit of time to adjust to dental changes. By wearing these prototype restorations for about a month, Christa was able to eat and speak with them to see how they worked with her lips, tongue and face. This also allowed her the opportunity to make adjustments before fabricating the final porcelain restorations.
Utilizing this three-phase approach allows Dr. Alex and the laboratory confidence when delivering the final case, that the outcome will be pleasing to the patient. Such was the case for Christa. When her final restorations were delivered, she was thrilled. Her results were exactly as she had hoped. Her veneers were so natural looking that her family members noticed that something looked different about her but were unable to pinpoint that it was her teeth.
Not only are they very natural looking but they are also easily maintainable. As with most bruxers, Christa’s grinding will likely continue as a lifetime habit. However, Christa’s teeth are stronger than they were before and with the utilization of a nighttime appliance, her restorations are safe from her habit.
Christa says her experience far exceeded her expectations. “I did not realize how much it would change me. I am much more confident. My children notice I am a bit different now too. They say I smile all the time.” She also emphasizes the importance of finding the whole team when approaching something like this. It is not only the dentist you are choosing. You are choosing the entire team, including the staff and the laboratory. Each one of them must be on the same page and have the same desire for the best possible patient outcome. Christa’s careful discrimination definitely paid dividends. She can’t stop saying nice things about them all.
For Dr. Alex and NuCraft Dental Arts, this was another successful outcome and another happy patient. “Helping someone like this achieve their goals is the most gratifying part of dentistry for me,” concluded Dr. Alex.
For more information, you may contact NuCraft Dental Arts by phone at 800.241.8614, or visit on the web at www.nucraftdental.com, Glenn Alex is located at 140 Trinity Place in Athens, GA. 706-549-5678. You may visit his website at www.glennalex.com.