Case Study: Dr. Whitman Restores the Smile of an Older Patient

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A 60 year old patient came to Dr. Whitman with teeth that had been impacted by tooth decay as well as restorations that were no longer working. Here’s how Dr. Whitman and her staff at Leesburg Family & Cosmetic Dentistry were able to help this woman restore her smile.




Evaluating the Issue: Decay and Failing Restorations


This patient wasn’t able to chew on her left side. Her teeth on that side were all decayed from years of neglect; however, she wasn’t experiencing any pain. The patient wanted to save what could be saved in her smile.

She did have existing restorations, about half of which had recurrent decay under them. Some of these restorations were very large fillings—including porcelain fused to metal crowns—that were failing.

As a result of her restorations, there was very little tooth structure remaining on these teeth, although both had root canals that were still clinically acceptable.

Making a Treatment Plan: Removing Decay and Designing a Bridge
Dr. Whitman removed the decay present in the teeth and still had enough tooth structure left over to place a support post inside the center of the tooth. This helped build up the teeth to give enough support for two new crowns.

Unfortunately, one of the patient’s teeth—her lower left canine—was not able to be restored due to deep decay, even with a root canal. Dr. Whitman extracted that tooth and constructed a bridge on the neighboring teeth.

Since crowns were needed on these adjacent teeth anyway, a bridge would fill in the gap of the extracted tooth. The patient didn’t want a bone graft to support dental implants as a replacement option, although dental implants would have given her smile a more natural look and had a much longer lifespan than the bridge.

The Results: A Fully Functional Smile


The patient was very pleased with the bridge option to restore her smile and is able to chew on her left side again. Dr. Whitman was able to help restore the full function of the patient’s teeth and jaw with these procedures.

Since different shades of color constituted the patient’s restoration work over the years and gave her smile a mismatched appearance, by removing the decay and going with a lighter color for her bridgework, Dr. Whitman was able to begin correcting and unifying the appearance of her teeth.

After placing a temporary bridge, the patient had her permanent restoration placed with Dr. Whitman, which was adjusted to fit her natural bite. The patient is now in the process of restoring the lower right side of her smile now that the lower left side is complete and she can chew properly on that side.