In dentistry, you never stop learning.
That’s the philosophy shared by Doctors David Ross and Karen Schmitt, partners in life and dentistry since they first met in 1981. Three years after getting married in 1985, the couple opened Alafaya Family Dentistry in Oviedo and attribute their longevity and success to continuing education and having the courage to adapt with the times.
As progressive dentists, the couple invests in state-of-the-art technology including CEREC (in-house crowns) and CT scanners (3D X-rays), as well as incorporating the latest dental techniques, most notably bioesthetics. This concept seeks to find the root cause of a patient’s tooth wear and pain.
“Bioesthetics is about treating the whole person,” says Dr. Schmitt. “It opens your eyes to see what is really going on. It is looking at the patient from a position of health and treating the cause of problems, not just the symptoms.”
The treatment is based on research by California dentist Dr. Robert L. Lee who studied senior citizens with healthy, naturally shaped teeth. Not worn down, not broken, not chipped. The practitioner theorized that there must be a reason beyond simple brushing and flossing. He discovered that if all parts of the chewing system – how the teeth align when you move your jaw up and down – are in sync, teeth will remain healthy throughout a lifetime. And even more exciting, he realized a properly aligned chewing system helps keep one’s youthful appearance.
But when the chewing system is off-kilter, people tend to grind their teeth and inflammation occurs, which leads to pain.
“The jaw is usually the reason for many dental problems,” explains Dr. Ross, “and misalignment can cause headaches and neck aches, too.”
Without addressing the root cause of their issues, a patient may receive a crown or a filling and be sent on their way. Treating the jaw, however, can fix many complications for good.
With bioesthetics, the dentist examines the patient’s jaw to see how the teeth fit and work together. If the teeth are not aligning properly, the jaw needs adjusting. Dr. Ross says the secret lies in the MAGO splint, an oral device that resembles a bite guard worn over the upper teeth. The splint tricks the brain into allowing the stabilization of the upper jaw and returns the jaw into the correct position. It’s the brain in the first place that moves the jaw offline when it feels teeth are not positioned correctly.
“This is not just for adults,” he adds. “If we get the jaw in the right place, it keeps people from having bad teeth later in life.”
The reason bioesthetics helps with a patient’s appearance is that when the jaw is out of sync, the skin and facial muscles are constantly under stress – and it shows. After treatment, a patient’s natural beauty returns. Their faces change. With less strain on the skin, the face relaxes and patients look younger.
Back to Basics
Doctors Schmitt and Ross note that beyond the inclusion of bioesthetics into their collective practice, they still offer the same dental services and quality care that patients in Oviedo-Winter Springs have grown to love for more than 30 years. That includes an array of cosmetic offerings such as porcelain veneers, teeth whitening, and dental bonding. The results associated with cosmetic dentistry not only improve oral health but enhance the aesthetics of the teeth and gums, boosting self-esteem.
The doctors also provide expert restorative dentistry. Bridges, implants, crowns, and fillings can all help restore a youthful smile. And if it’s a bi-annual cleaning you seek, the dental hygienists at Alafaya Family Dentistry offer personal care in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.
The husband-and-wife duo, who live in Chuluota with their two dogs, have four adult children, one of whom, Jessica, is now on board as a dental hygienist at Alafaya Family Dentistry. The office on Alexandria Boulevard, which opened in March 2008, is complete with striking raised ceilings, surrounding green space, and a professional, courteous staff whose ultimate goal is the patient’s overall good health.
“We have learned to slow down and look at what is going on with our patients as a whole,” notes Dr. Schmitt. “We may not know the entire picture, but we are getting there.”