photos by Dan Bishop Visits to the dentist had always been a problem for Judi Smith. As a youngster, her parents could not afford routine dental care, so in adulthood, Smith suffered through root canals, partials and bridges. Visits to the prosthodontist, the dental specialist who handles such problems, were not uncommon. As her teeth […]


photos by Dan Bishop

Visits to the dentist had always been a problem for Judi Smith.

As a youngster, her parents could not afford routine dental care, so in adulthood, Smith suffered through root canals, partials and bridges. Visits to the prosthodontist, the dental specialist who handles such problems, were not uncommon. As her teeth continued to deteriorate, she was advised the best course would be to pull all her remaining teeth and replace them with implants.

“I hated wearing false teeth anyway,” says Smith, a retired Badger Meter customer service rep who lives in Sussex. “I don’t have a good gag reflex, so I was constantly gagging. I knew they weren’t my teeth.”

The implant process was arduous: a sinus lift, inserting cadaver bones to augment the bone mass in the upper jaw; extraction of the remaining teeth; positioning of the implants in the upper jaw and lower jaw; and fabrication and placement of the upper and lower dentures. There were weeks, sometimes months, of healing between each step, during which Smith still had to wear partial false teeth.

But even though the whole process took from September 2006 to February 2008, Smith says she would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I don’t even know they’re implants,” she says. “I brush them like normal teeth. It’s like having my own teeth again, only much prettier.”

Welcome to 21st-century dentistry. In the five years since Milwaukee Magazine’s last “Top Dentists” survey, a surprising number of developments have made dental procedures more efficient, more accurate and – best of all – less painful.

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