It took a long time and a lot of pain before Nancy Williams finally went to the dentist. It has been 35 years since her last visit. There was always a reason to justify putting it off: She had three kids to raise, she had a job and it was tough to take time off, plus, like many people, she was afraid to go to the dentist. Finally, she couldn’t put it off anymore.
"My teeth were starting to loosen up and it was getting harder to chew and I thought, I’ll go see," the 69-year-old said. "I thought maybe it was a problem with my wisdom teeth. When the doctor told me I had bone disease, I was shocked."
Nancy had advanced periodontal disease. The gum disease develops when plaque caused by food and bacteria hardens into tartar and inflames the gum line, eventually causing the gums to pull away from the teeth and the bacteria to destroy the jaw bone. As the disease progressed over the years, Nancy’s teeth would bleed when she brushed them, then her teeth started to wiggle as the bones supporting the roots receded.
"I had a hard time biting and I would have to take small pieces and eat on the sides of my mouth," Nancy remembers. "My daughter always told me I had bad breath, which was because of the infection. No matter what I did, I had it. I would always chew gum or have a mint in my mouth."
It was the constant toothache that finally drove Nancy to the dentist.
"She came in because she was in pain," said Dr. Greg Stoici, a dentist at Coast Dental South Tampa in Tampa, Florida. "Her teeth were in very bad shape and she had severe periodontal conditions and she was pretty scared."
Dr. Stoici had bad news for Nancy. The damage to the teeth and the surrounding bone was so severe, she would need to have all of the top teeth extracted and most of her bottom teeth removed. Nancy was nervous about the procedure, especially since her work required her to talk on the phone. Dr. Stoici ordered temporary dentures, and when they were ready, Nancy returned to the office.
"They had to pull all my teeth but four on the bottom," Nancy said. "Dr. Stoici was so gentle. Naturally, the needle didn’t feel the greatest at first, but I was so amazed by Dr. Stoici and his assistant and how they helped me relax. When he got done pulling the top, he said, 'Now we’re going to work on the bottom,' and I couldn’t believe it because I hadn’t felt a thing. Then I had the new set of teeth put in right there."
At first the dentures felt a little strange, but Nancy quickly got used to them. The benefits were immediate.
"My son says I look much better. With the teeth they gave me, I can eat peanuts, salad, chips, just about everything I want," Nancy laughed. Best of all, the pain is gone. "I was a wreck when I went in. But all I needed was ibuprofen for a few days. That’s it."
Nancy has been back several times since she received the temporary removable dentures in December.
She undergoes regular periodontal maintenance to treat the gum disease and protect the four remaining natural teeth, plus had the dentures adjusted as the bone loss recession dictated. She just received her new set of permanent removable dentures in September.
The change in her has been remarkable.
"I remember when she first came in, she was hiding her mouth behind her hand," Dr. Stoici said. "She told me she hated her smile. But now she beams."
Tampa Bay dentist Greg Stoici, DMD, has been a practicing dentist since 2006. He provides general dentistry services to patients starting at age 10. His services include bone grafting, dental implant restorations, extractions, crown lengthening, “gummy smile” correction, Lumineers®, periodontal disease management, ridge augmentation, professional teeth whitening, root canal treatment, and veneers. To further enhance his practice, Dr. Stoici stays current with the latest advancements in dental technology by attending continuing education courses on new products and technological applications. He is a member of the American Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry and is fluent in English and Romanian. Dr. Stoici has changed locations and now practices at Coast Dental St. Petersburg, located at 7801 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33702. The office phone number is (727) 525-4499.
Written By: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed By: Greg Stoici
Reviewed By: Cindy Roark, DMD