Being a celebrity often means setting aside things you want to do for things you have to do. Rick Davis made that decision about his smile.
And he certainly had a good reason. Mr. Davis has been constantly on the go as a singer with the Grammy Award winning Texas Swing band Asleep At The Wheel. And when he wasn’t performing with Asleep At The Wheel, Mr. Davis was back at home in Livingston caring for his elderly mother.
So when the moment came to focus a little bit of attention on himself, Mr. Davis decided it was time for his smile to take center stage. After all, as a performer, he was keenly aware that his appearance was part of what brought people to see Asleep At The Wheel perform.
Mr. Davis had a particular concern that set him apart from many of my patients, though. He was concerned that any major changes made to the shape of his teeth – or how his teeth and lips came together – might affect his singing ability. And when you make your living with your voice, that’s certainly something you don’t want to mess with!
Mr. Davis search for a professional with the expertise to work within those parameters took him from California…all the way to Houston, Texas, where he ultimately selected me to help him with a major dental makeover.
A major corporate dental implant chain had suggested removing all of Mr. Davis’ teeth and putting in all new implants. “I know I need my teeth fixed up,” he said to me, “but that seems pretty drastic.”
It is, and unfortunately this is often the standard approach that corporate dental implant chains take. I shared Mr. Davis’ concern that such a major change really could impact how he sang. We have all heard someone with bad dentures have a lisp or have a whistle when they talk. That has to do with the tip of the tongue making a seal against the teeth. In order to make a good “E” sound the lower teeth have to come ever so close to the edges of the top teeth without banging in to them. A good “F” or “V” sound is the correct position of the top teeth to the lower lip.
I don’t approach things the same way. There is no cookie cutter answer because each person I see is unique. For Mr. Davis the best solution was far less drastic. The perfect solution for him was actually keeping many of his natural teeth and augmenting them with dental implants only where it was truly necessary. I made models of Mr. Davis own teeth and jaws. Then I sculpted the broken down teeth back to original shape. Then using that as my guide, I filled in any areas of missing teeth to follow his original contours. I then made silicone molds of the sculpted teeth. Nevertheless, it was a lot of work – made easier for Mr. Davis by using IV Sedation. Mr. Davis came in for his transformation appointment and was pampered as he slipped into the dental chair with booties on his feet, a cozy blanket, headphones with the kind of music he liked, and we started an IV. A computer monitor was connected to track vital signs for safety. Then I give the sedation drugs that I affectionately referred to as “Hugs and Kisses” and within minutes Mr. Davis was in a state of bliss and we went to work. By the end of the morning the broken down teeth had been restored, implants were placed only were needed, the deep cleaning was done and the new temporary teeth delivered.
The result was a far less invasive treatment plan, which also cost less, as well. Even more importantly, Mr. Davis retained the shape of his mouth…and therefore the uniqueness of his voice. When it was time to reveal his new look that morning, I handed him a mirror and the first words out of his mouth were my favorite, “Wow, I love it!”
The moral to this story, I think, is that what we are given by heredity shapes our lives. I was glad to help Mr. Davis regain a beautiful smile without endangering his livelihood. As many patients do, he wanted to express his gratitude for the transformation in his life. So at one of his follow up appointments he brought his guitar and sang a few songs for us while sitting in the dental chair!