Jan Plessner loves motorcycles, and she loves her new smile. Previously something she covered up, the smile of the former Kawasaki PR manager was featured front and center on www.Ladymoto.com, an online magazine that Jan launched a few years ago for women who ride or aspire to ride motorcycles.
Born missing 12 teeth, Jan had spent her entire life making adjustments before dental implants. "I was missing multiple teeth in the back on both sides of my uppers and teeth on the bottom right and left," she explained. "I almost had to eat in a crooked way to get the teeth to line up to chew the best. I just didn't have the right alignment or the chewing power for things like carrots or other crunchy things."
Over the years, the teeth started wearing down at a rapid rate. "My teeth were getting shorter. They were fading away," she said.
No dentures, please
After one tooth cracked when she was snowboarding, Jan chose dental implants as the foundation for a whole new smile. "It was either let my teeth break away, be reactive to it and then not end up with a great smile but with a bunch of repairs; get dentures; or do a total reconstruction of my smile," she said. "I just couldn't imagine dentures. It just wasn't right for me."
A team of three specialists created Jan's new smile. An orthodontist placed braces to shift the teeth forward and close the gaps. Nicholas Caplanis, D.M.D., FAAID, DABOI/ID, an AAID credentialed implant dentist in Mission Viejo, Calif., gave Jan a sinus graft to build up the bone to support the new teeth and placed four dental implants that served as the foundation for four replacement teeth. To extend the lifespan of her natural teeth, Jan also received eight crowns on her upper natural teeth and 12 crowns on her natural lower teeth from a prosthodontist.
Jan wore temporary teeth while her dental implants joined with her natural jawbone to form a strong foundation for her custom-made teeth, and to make sure that everything was perfectly positioned for her long-term smile.
Reflecting on the entire process, which was completed in spring 2012, "the braces were the longest and most inconvenient part,” Jan said. "There I was at age 46 with braces. That was fun for a year and a half."
Dental teamwork pays off
The active jet-skier, snowboarder and motorcycle rider's goals now include enjoying life to the fullest and having her dental-implant restored smile outlast her.
So far so good. With more teeth than she's ever had in her life, Jan's been enjoying crunchy, chewy foods, and discovering a new appreciation for the food of rabbits, the animal Jan mentioned when describing what she looked like eating with her front teeth when she was missing so many in back. "Now I can demolish a raw carrot like nobody's business – and I like them."
The procedures required to create her new smile were nothing compared to her concerns before she experienced them. "I had every fear in the world over this and it was nothing – I was really surprised," Jan said.
She describes herself as someone with "a low pain tolerance" but said the IV sedation used during all of her procedures made the process "no big deal."
Even the liquid diet recommended for two weeks at one stage was enjoyable, Jan said, though she was able to return to solid foods in about a week. "I love ice cream and milkshakes – I think I am the only person who gained weight on a liquid diet!" she joked.
An investment in happiness
Jan couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. "I'm a happy person and my new smile matches who I am inside," she said. "On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 10-plus. I have not stopped smiling since I got my all new smile. Your smile is your first impression. I feel much more confident now."
Jan recommends others with missing teeth, "Do research. Find someone you're comfortable with. Maybe ask to talk with some of their patients."
She also emphasized shopping for quality over price. "This isn’t the kind of treatment where you want to look for the best price. You want to look for the best quality and care. It's an investment in your future."