Top Dentists 2009
Technical expertise and fine clinical care define our state’s top specialists. Under their treatment, getting your teeth straightened, cleaned or replaced is easier than ever. Following, profiles on some of our best.
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Stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, cadet Emil Tetzner put the Air Force adage “see one, do one, teach one” into action. He entered into a rigorous general practice residency, where he rotated through every dental specialty.
“And I mean you really get in there and do it all,” he says. “There was emergency room training, operating room, general anesthesia. I even filled in when the oral surgeon was away.”
As a periodontic expert, Tetzner sees patients who are losing, or are at great risk of losing, their teeth. Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the supporting structures of teeth. “General dentists will make an assessment, and if it’s bad, they’ll send them to me,” he says.
“The bread and butter of basic periodontal therapy is removal of plaque and tartar from people’s teeth,” Tetzner says. “Whether that’s a non-surgical deep-cleaning procedure or, when the disease is bad enough, they’ll need periodontal surgery to expose the plaque and tartar on the root surfaces of the teeth and clean that off.”
Tetzner’s job is rarely as simple as a deep cleaning. Huge technological leaps in dental implant therapy have made replacing damaged teeth easier than before. “It just opened up a whole new door of what we can do for people,” he says.
Gingival grafting—the process of implanting tissue onto recessed or damaged gums—also makes up a good portion of Tetzner’s clinical work. So does regenerative therapy—actually growing new bone structure where there was none before. It’s a marvel of biomedicine that’s changed Tetzner’s field for the better.
“My patient this morning needed dental implants, but he had lost a lot of bone from previous periodontal disease,” Tetzner says. “So we regenerated bone where the implants were not fully covered with bone structure.”
Scientists have isolated the proteins in the human body that stimulates bone growth. By cloning and replicating that protein in a lab, dentists can grow bone wherever it’s needed. Sometimes that means generating bone below an upper sinus that droops down into the jawbone. Sometimes it’s building up a boney ridge of the mouth that’s wide and deep enough to accept a dental implant.
Maintaining tooth strength and staving off gum disease is more important than you might think. Periodontal disease and the harmful bacteria that accompany it can enter the bloodstream and cause or exacerbate heart disease. Diabetic patients, who lack the full faculties to fight disease, are highly susceptible to periodontal disease.
“One thing that’s important to me is the emphasis on the medical compromises that people have,” Tetzner says. “Monitoring gum disease and periodontitis can be very helpful to those individuals.”
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