The Happiness Implant
Former marketing manager Eleanor, 36, has learned how to smile again – thanks to life transforming dentistry – after spending more than five years keeping her mouth shut as much as possible to hide the unsightly gaps in her teeth.
She is part of a new generation of patients in Britain to benefit from implant technology – a whole new approach to replacing missing teeth which has been acclaimed as one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the last 100 years. Implants provide man-made roots for false teeth and help to stimulate bone growth in a similar way to natural roots and teeth. They are, as the name suggests, surgically implanted into the jaw.
Her state of the art treatment is a stark contrast to her earlier dental experience. Losing lots of teeth as a child (abroad rather in the UK), she had a dental bridge which was later to expose her to severe pain, damaging her natural teeth and jaw.
By this time she had married, moved to Britain, obtained an MBA, and led a 15 strong marketing team. She tried to return to work after having her first child, but recalled: “When employers met me, they sensed that something was not quite right. It was my teeth. It’s very important to smile at the right time in a job interview, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just didn’t look right. I finished up on antidepressants.
Why did she wait more than five years before undergoing restorative treatment after having the bridge removed? “I visited many dentists and jaw specialists, but they seemed more interested in talking about money than my problem.”
She was finally treated at the Dentexcel practice in London’s Harley Street where she had extensive “whole mouth treatment” on her gums and bite as well her teeth. Restorative dentist Dr. Keith Cohen said: “We have to deal with these types of cases in sequence. In this instance we had to start with her ‘bite problem’ because there would have been no point in going any further if we’d been unable to correct it.
This meant matching up her lower and upper teeth so that they joined up at the right point. Another major challenge was to match the contours of her eight new crowns with the two new implants. Dr. Cohen explained: “In the upper jaw, bone always tends to shrink inward with tooth loss, and this is where the challenge is positioning the implants in line with the other teeth. It has to be right to within half a millimeter.”
With surrounding bone tending to degenerate after tooth extraction at a rate of 40 to 60 per cent over a three-year period, the loss can be so great that the bone will not support an implant without bone grafting, but fortunately Eleanor did not need a graft.
Her teeth were bleached to create what she calls – “the biggest smile imaginable to go with my happy new face. The damage hasn’t gone away completely, but I no longer have any headaches or discomfort or irritation. I am so grateful. I’ve become a very smiley person and I’ve since had two interviews resulting in two job offers. Today I work for a private foreign bank directly with its clients right in the front-line in fact!”