For this 31-year-old patient, an inability to afford or prioritize the care and treatment of his visibly damaged and decayed teeth—combined with a longtime fear of going to the dentist—led to a mouthful of severely deteriorated dentition and a history of chronic periodontal inflammation, multiple recurrent decay and incomplete treatments.
Over the years, friends, family members and co-workers would occasionally comment about his smile and ask what he was doing to fix it. Although he had regular cleanings every six months until he was in middle school (when his mother was in charge of his appointments), as he grew older he didn’t develop a regular brushing habit. As the cavities developed more frequently—and despite the use of nitrous oxide—his dental visits became increasingly unpleasant.
Push finally came to shove last summer when yet another relative commented on his smile, which prompted him to reach out to a longtime friend who worked for Ivoclar Vivadent, servicing dental laboratories and my practice.
During a consultation in New York the patient reported that, before this visit, he hadn’t been to a dentist for at least three years.
Given the likely extent of the treatment required to restore the patient to optimum oral health and function—as well as the fact that he would need to travel six hours each way for appointments—an ideal treatment schedule and appointment sequence could have been every Monday for six months. However, because the patient had just opened a new office in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at the start of his company’s busy season, a twice-monthly schedule of all-day appointments was agreed upon.
During the first appointment, oral prophylaxis and debridement were performed, and root canal therapy was undertaken for teeth 6–8, 22 and 28. In the afternoon, implants were placed at the sites of 3, 12 and 15 (Figs. 13–15, p. 36).
Fig. 2: Close-up retracted facial view of the patient’s upper and lower arches reveals extensive decay, missing teeth and obvious gingival inflammation.
Fig. 3: The preoperative right lateral view shows evidence of the failing mesial/occlusal/distal (MOD) amalgam restorations in teeth #2, #4, #5, #29, #30, #31 and #32, as well as the need to replace missing tooth #3.
Fig. 4: The preoperative left lateral view reveals that any treatment undertaken should address the patient’s numerous missing teeth, including #12, #15, #16 and #17 and multiple MOD amalgam restorations on teeth #13, #14 and #18 through #21.
Fig. 5: Close-up retracted view of the maxillary central and lateral incisors. Examination revealed that teeth #7 and #8 presented carious lesions and periapical periodontitis (PAP) that would require root canal therapy. Tooth #10 had previously undergone root canal therapy, but no post or core had been placed.
Fig. 6: Interestingly, in the patient’s mandibular arch, teeth #24 and #25 were intact and teeth #23, #26 and #27 had composite restorations.
Fig. 7: Palatal view of the maxillary arch revealing the distal/lingual (DL) composite restorations on teeth #9 and #11.
Fig. 8: Occlusal view of the patient’s mandibular arch. Tooth #22 presented with a DL carious lesion without PAP, while tooth #28 presented with MOD decay without PAP.
Fig. 11: Preoperative models were mounted, studied and used to determine ratios that should be incorporated into the restoration designs.
Fig. 9: A bite registration was made.
Fig. 10: A facebow transfer was recorded.
Fig. 12: It was very important to illustrate for the patient what the anticipated aesthetic and functional outcomes would look like, even before any procedures, to build his trust and confidence in the restorative process. Therefore, Smile Designer Pro was used to create a digital mock-up of the patient’s smile. This enabled the patient to visualize how his smile would be restored through a combination of root canal therapy, posts/cores and lithium disilicate crowns (e.g., IPS E.max) on teeth #6, #7, #8, #22 and #28; endosteal implants, custom abutments and IPS E.max crowns on teeth #3, #12 and #15; IPS E.max crowns on teeth #2, #4, #5, #10 (with post/core), #13 and #14; lithium disilicate (IPS E.max) veneers for teeth #9, #11 and #23 through #27; and conservative IPS E.max onlays for teeth #18 through #21 and #29 through #31.
Alternative treatments discussed with the patient included a zirconia bridge spanning teeth #2 through #4, as well as for teeth #11 through #13. Regardless of the ultimate restorative decision, long-term provisionalization would be required for teeth #2 through #14.
Fig. 13: A Straumann 4.8x14 implant was placed at the #3 site.
Fig. 14: A 4.1x14 Straumann implant was placed at the #13 site.
Fig. 15: A Straumann 4.8x12 implant was used at the #15 site.
Fig. 20: View of the 3Shape Trios scan of the prepared model.
Fig. 21: The design of the provisional restorations was proposed.
Fig. 22: View of the more refined proposal for the provisional restorations prior to milling.
Figs. 23 and 24: After milling, the Telio CAD provisional was seated back onto the model to confirm fit and form from the labial and lingual aspects.
Fig. 25: A putty matrix was made to help guide an incisal edge cutback.
Fig. 26: An incisal edge cutback was performed to allow aesthetic characterization, staining and glazing for a more natural appearance.
Fig. 27: Once the cutbacks were made, the reduction was verified against the putty matrix.
Fig. 28: The completed Telio CAD provisional restorations were tried back onto the model to verify fit and aesthetic qualities.
Fig. 29: View of the long-term provisional restorations after insertion at the second appointment. The third appointment was scheduled for four months later, during which time final preparation and refinement of teeth #2 through #14 was performed and final impressions were taken.
Figs. 30–32: Two weeks later, the fourth appointment was reserved for restoration try-in and final impressions on the endosteal implants. It was during the fifth appointment, scheduled for two weeks later, that the implant-supported IPS E.max crown restorations were delivered, as well as the other definitive maxillary restorations, and any necessary adjustments made. These postoperative radiographs confirmed healing at the #3, #12 and #15 sites, which were all ultimately restored with Straumann implants, custom titanium abutments and IPS E.max crowns.
Fig. 37: Final full-facial postoperative view of the patient in his natural smile.
Following the completion of his treatment, the patient repeatedly commented about how amazing and far more comfortable the process was than he ever could have expected. Interestingly, he often recalls the appointment during which multiple root canals were performed, noting that he was so comfortable that he almost fell asleep. Not only did my team and I provide the patient with a healthy and attractive smile that bolstered his confidence professionally, socially and functionally, but we also provided him with a peaceful and relaxed sense of ownership of his dental health.