Restoring smiles with reduced-cost dental care

Christopher Grzybowski and Howard W. Zucker, D.D.S.

For years after breaking four bottom teeth in a motorcycle accident, Christopher Grzybowski couldn’t enjoy steak and corn on the cob, his two favorite dishes at family cookouts.

With help from dentists and oral surgeons from Christiana Care, Chris obtained implants at the Wilmington Hospital Health Center. Implants are an expensive procedure and the center provides the service to patients at substantially reduced rates.

“They feel like my natural teeth,” says Chris, 46. “I am eating steak and corn on the cob again and that is wonderful.”

Beyond his dental problems, Chris suffers from physical and mental disabilities as a result of his injuries. He is legally blind and has difficulty with short-term memory.

“Something removable, like a partial denture would have been very difficult for Chris to manage and would not have felt like his own natural teeth,” says Howard W. Zucker, D.D.S., Section Chief. “With the implants, Chris eats well and smiles well.” Chris learned about the program through his mother, Catherine Grzybowski of Wilmington, a retired registered nurse who worked at Christiana Care for 42 years.  Chris returns to the health center for regular checkups, where he is warmly greeted by the staff.

“This program is a tremendous resource and the people here are very patient in working with Chris,” his mother says. “These dentists are not only skilled, they are dedicated and caring.”

Since the 1950s, as part of Christiana Care’s mission to provide charity care to the community, the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Hospital Dentistry has offered uninsured and underinsured patients like Chris a wide variety of needed dental services at cost. Services range from routine dental care to complex reconstructive maxillofacial surgery and restorative dentistry.

Under the direction of Edwin L. Granite, D.M.D., the department works closely with community-based dentists and Christiana Care dental residents to provide many of these services on a volunteer basis. The department also provides care for uninsured and underinsured patients at clinics in the community, including Westside Family Healthcare and Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, both in Wilmington.

Since the implant program was established, 20 years ago, more than 1,500 implants have been provided, Dr. Zucker says. These restorations range from single crowns to complete oral rehabilitations. In fiscal year 2010-2011, more than 50 patients received a total of 111 implants.

Dr. Zucker and restorative dentists James C. Baker, D.D.S., David Isaacs, D.M.D., and Sohaib Usmani, D.M.D., supervise residents and work with patients to restore their smiles. Department staff, Dr. Edwin L. Granite, Dr. Daniel J. Meara and community oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform such procedures as bone grafts to build up bone before an implant is placed, when needed. Community oral surgeons Ray Petrunich, D.D.S, Louis Rafetto, D.M.D., and Peter Subach, D.M.D. also participate in the implant surgery program and serve as attending dentists that supervise the oral surgery residents during the necessary surgical procedures.

Implants are placed and restored for many reasons; the most common being decay and periodontal disease. Patients may also require advanced restorative dentistry involving implants placement due to trauma or congenitally missing teeth.

Laura Lemon

Laura Lemon

Laura Lemon, a 21-year-old woman with Down Syndrome, had two congenitally missing incisors and the remaining two front teeth required extractions after a long period of therapy. Her beautiful smile was restored with an implant supported bridge.

“They took excellent care of her,” says Mark Lemon of North Wilmington, Laura’s dad. “Laura liked her doctors because they were so kind and reassuring and she came through it like a trooper.”

For more information, call the Wilmington Hospital Health Center at 302-428-4410.

Restoring smiles with reduced-cost dental care

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