Everyone Can Have a Beautiful, Functional Smile.
After seeing my picture on the cover of this magazine, you might assume that I’m some kind of celebrity, rock star, or uber-wealthy Wall Street businessman. After all, who else is featured on the cover of a cosmetic dentistry magazine with a killer smile except for the rich and famous, right? Wrong.
I’m just a regular guy, a father, an entrepreneur, and a high school baseball coach—the kind of guy who could be your next-door neighbor. But I’m also a guy who (for most of his life) was unhappy with his teeth and finally decided to do something about them! I’m a guy who might very well be like you, like one of your family members, or like one of your patients.
A Starting Place
My story begins just like anyone else’s. I had a typical (and great) childhood on the East Coast. I grew up, went to high school, played sports, and then went on to college to play baseball. While attending a university, I met and married my wife. We have been married for 21 years and have six children—and surprisingly enough—one grandchild. I know I don’t look old enough to have a grandchild, but it’s true. I really am a grandfather.
I have spent my career doing a lot of nothing and a whole lot of everything! I currently own several companies focused on increasing brand recognition and providing procurement solutions for a variety of markets. Our companies are based on relationships and we count all of our clients as family friends! I love what I do for a living and love my life overall.
Everything has been great in my life; my only real complaint was with my smile. In my family—as is the case with all families—you either inherit your dental genes from your dad’s side of the family or your mom’s family. Some of my siblings were fortunate enough to get my dad’s genes. They have great smiles with few problems associated with their teeth.
However, I inherited my dental genes from my mom’s family. My brittle teeth were plagued with problem after problem throughout my entire life. I endured numerous trips to the dentist over my lifetime and spent a significant amount of time undergoing orthodontic work. Because of heredity, I knew that my need for substantial dental work would be an ongoing issue throughout my life.
Choosing the Team
My younger brother happens to be a friend of Chris Barnes, the son of Dr. Dick Barnes (the dentist entrepreneur who started Arrowhead Dental Lab). Because of my brother’s friendship, I’ve known the Barnes family for about 25 years. A couple of years ago, my brother and I started talking about teeth and what could be done about my smile. At the time, my teeth were in terrible condition and I knew that I needed to do something about them. I was intrigued by the idea of getting my teeth completely restored and my brother recommended that I talk with the folks at Arrowhead.
Luckily, they referred me to Denver-based dentist Dr. Jim Downs. When I say “luckily,” it’s because Dr. Downs is an expert in the cosmetic restoration field. He is not only an expert and artist at full mouth reconstruction, he also teaches a course on the very subject to colleagues with the Dr. Dick Barnes Group.
My initial meeting with Dr. Downs was very positive. He is professional and knowledgeable and I can definitely tell that he cares about the health and well-being of his patients. Dr. Downs examined my teeth and determined that a full mouth reconstruction would be the best option for me. He fully explained what the process would entail: essentially placing crowns on all of my teeth in both my upper and lower arches.
To be honest, I initially felt a little conflicted about this idea. The process seemed straightforward enough. However, I was hesitant because I was worried that the crowns would resemble the veneers that I had seen on some other people, which to me looked completely unnatural. I didn’t want to look like I had crowns or dentures. I wanted my teeth to look real.
I expressed my concerns to Dr. Downs and he assured me that the Arrowhead Elite dental restorations that he would use would not look fake at all. He showed me photos of some of his patients who had recently undergone the procedure with Elite crowns and I was completely blown away! Their teeth looked amazing. They were translucent and shiny and perfectly shaped. If I met those people without knowing they had dental work done, I would have assumed that they were blessed with “good teeth genes,” like some of my siblings! I would never, ever have guessed that those weren’t their “real” teeth.
Up to Bat
After that appointment, my wife and I discussed the procedure. I needed a lot of dental work done anyway. Several of my teeth needed root canals. Some of my teeth were chipped. My teeth were hardly what you’d consider pearly white. I knew that because of my poor dental genes, these problems would keep growing as time passed. So we asked ourselves, ‘Why not make the investment now and get it done?’ That was it. Anyone who is an entrepreneur is a bit of a risk-taker, so it didn’t take too much convincing for us to make our decision. I called Dr. Downs and we started the ball rolling.
I flew to Denver, CO, to meet with Dr. Downs at his office and spent an entire day there. At the first visit, Dr. Downs prepped my teeth and made temporaries that looked great and lasted until the final restorations could be placed. During the treatment, I never really felt any fear. I had been to a lot of dentists during my lifetime because my teeth were so poor. So it just felt like any other dental visit.
But it really wasn’t! On that initial visit (after Dr. Downs finished prepping my teeth and installing the temporaries), he showed me a series of photos. An image that really struck me was one with my own teeth filed down into little knobs. I gasped when I saw it and thought, ‘This is serious!’ There was no turning back. We needed to keep moving forward. I was pumped and ready to go!
The Next Inning
I wore temps on my upper arch for about two months until the final restorations could be seated at the Full Arch Restoration Course. Dr. Downs did the work and seated the restorations at Arrowhead Dental Lab in Salt Lake City, UT. The process went very smoothly. There was no pain whatsoever and no discomfort. From the beginning, I was extremely pleased with how my teeth looked. My wife and my children all agreed that they looked great. Today, my children often joke about “Dad’s perfect smile.”
The only issue I had with the permanents on my upper arch occurred shortly after the permanents were seated. At that time, I noticed some sensitivity on a couple of my upper molars. I spoke to Dr. Downs about it and he wasn’t overly concerned. He said that this type of sensitivity is normal and it should disappear within a week. But if it didn’t, then I should call him back. Dr. Downs was right. Sure enough, in less than a week, the sensitivity went away and it never returned. I’ve had no other problems with my teeth. I’m completely happy with how they look and feel and wouldn’t want them any other way.
The biggest change in my life is the fact that I actually try to show my teeth when I smile. When I look at pictures from the past, I notice that I nearly always smiled with a closed mouth. My teeth were chipped and they weren’t a bright white. So I was a bit ashamed of them and I often tried to hide them. Today, I am incredibly proud of my teeth. I smile big and wide and people often comment, “Wow! Your smile is incredible!” I don’t care who you are or how much self-confidence you possess, hearing those kinds of comments from friends and strangers alike definitely has an impact on how you feel about yourself. It boosts your self-esteem and self-image.
With an increased confidence level, you feel better about yourself. And when you feel better about yourself, you smile more. When you have more confidence and smile more often, everything else in life is positively impacted as well.
My advice for other patients who are considering large-case treatments for their teeth is to make it a priority! It has been a great experience and is truly life-changing. If you make the decision to get your teeth done, follow through with the entire process all the way to the end.
Pep Talk from the Coach
I think most people take their teeth for granted. We don’t necessarily pay attention to them, but they play a huge part in everything we do—whether it’s eating, talking with people, or just showcasing a positive, friendly face. I always notice people who are consistently smiling. I’m drawn to such people, and I’m sure most people are drawn to happy, smiling people. And couldn’t this world use more people who are confident, happy, and smiling?
As I noted previously, don’t fool yourself into thinking that a smile like mine is only for the wealthy and the famous. It’s not. It’s for everyone! Everyone deserves to have a beautiful, functional smile that they can be proud of. I am just a working guy who coaches high school baseball, loves sports, loves the outdoors, and loves my career and my family. I’ve always been that guy and I still am. Yet now, I’m also a guy who has a great, functional smile.
My experience with full mouth reconstruction was so positive that two of my siblings have also had their teeth restored. Their experience was similar to mine and they love their new smiles just as much as I love mine. I would recommend this procedure to anyone. Take the risk! Make the appointment. Get that beautiful smile that you’ve always dreamed about. You won’t regret it for a minute!
COVER STORY CASE DETAILS
An initial examination was conducted and the following information obtained:
- impressions of upper and lower arches
- a CR bite and a swallow bite to determine the new vertical
Chris’s starting Shimbashi vertical measurement was 13 mm, with the goal of increasing his vertical to 16.5 mm. We utilized the swallow bite technique, then fabricated a flat plane appliance for the lower arch, followed by splint therapy for a period of three months. Based upon the findings of an examination, Chris required extensive tissue correction from teeth 4 through 13, up to 1.5 mm. This was accomplished with the use of the Carbon Dioxide Denta2 laser from Lutronic® at the time of surgery.
Prior to case acceptance, a diagnostic wax-up was fabricated on the maxillary arch to the newly verified vertical and anterior/posterior position acquired from the appliance therapy. The natural smile design showed the required tissue adjustments and then established an ideal curve of Spee and Wilson for the occlusal plane.
Based upon the various factors, a segmental treatment plan was selected with the focus of taking the maxillary arch to completion before restoring the mandibular arch. Snowcap long-term temporaries were fabricated that adapted to the natural unprepared dentition on the lower arch, also referred to as a living splint. This allowed the doctor to verify and complete the maxillary arch while at the same time creating a mandibular arch that would properly occlude with the maxillary arch.
- Impregum™ impression material, light body and heavy body.
- Regisil® PB™ 2x Bite Registration Material.
- Arrowhead white wax-up, tooth numbers 2 to 15.
- Arrowhead Radica® temporaries (Snowcaps), tooth numbers 17 to 31 (three sections: 17 to 21, 22 to 27, 28 to 31).
- Arrowhead Elite e.max press crowns, tooth numbers 5 to 12.
- Arrowhead Elite PFM, tooth numbers 3 and 14 with metal occlusion.