From the Setauket dental trenches

Two lovely stories told to us at the office.


First story: Jaime sat down in our chair and said she had something exciting to tell us – but Linda, May and I all had to be present. What could it be? We had known Jaime for over two years and knew her to be a lovely person but she had never confided in us the story she was about to tell us now. She began: in 1963 she had a daughter out-of-wedlock. She gave the child up for adoption. She thought of the child every day for over 50 years and always wanted to know how she was and what kind of person she turned out to be. In those days the adoption records were sealed and she had no way of knowing who adopted the child.


Speed forward to 2015 when adoption records have been unsealed.  Jaime was contacted by a woman born on the same date in 1963 and at the same hospital. This was her daughter. They met each other and caught up. The daughter had been adopted by loving parents and grew up to be a wonderful, loving adult, married with two children. Jaime, who didn’t have any other children, now has a ready made family. It is a lovely story!


Second story: Michael came to the office for a new patient consult. Right away I saw that he did not have any teeth and was not wearing dentures. He had lost his teeth over the years from decay and periodontal disease. He never had dentures made because he had a dental phobia.  But he had a story he wanted to tell me. He grew up in the United States but was born in England.  Recently he received a call from an English woman who turned out to be his sister. He never knew that he had a sister living abroad.  The story is complicated about why he did not know this. He wanted to skype her but he wouldn’t do so as he was without teeth.


He wanted dentures so he could meet his long-lost sister.  He was anxious to get started so we took impressions that evening and three weeks later he had teeth. He was so happy that he could taste food again and smile broadly. This amateur artist drew my picture and wrote me a lovely note: “I wanted to thank you and your staff for improving my life – so much. I don’t have the words to articulate how grateful I am so I thought a drawing of you. Have a great holiday season with an even better New Year.”  Thanks Mike – you make my day!


Funny how both of these stories have to do with lost relatives. One story has everything to do with teeth; one has nothing to do with teeth. Both stories show how important family is! Happy New Year!

Marilyn is 87 and lives in an assisted living home.  She is active and feisty: loves to play cards and billiards. She dresses with great care, but she had a habit of removing her denture – probably because it didn’t fit or wasn’t comfortable. So last week she removed it in the dining room and placed it in a napkin (NEVER do this, I tell my patients!). A denture wrapped in a napkin is looking to get discarded – and that is just what happened. Marilyn was without her teeth and she was, understandably, very upset.


Her daughter read on the internet that I make great fitting dentures in just four visits. She called me and she asked if I could make a denture in even less time so Marilyn could have teeth sooner rather than later. I told them to come in the next day, and I would have a new denture for her in four days. They were both thrilled. I condensed the fabrication process into one visit but I couldn’t guarantee that we would be happy with the result. I explained to them that if we weren’t happy with the teeth, then this denture would be counted as a temporary denture, and it would take just a few more visits to make a denture that satisfied us all.


The next day mother and daughter came in for mom’s visit – I took impressions and measurements. I consulted with my fabulous denture laboratory. Four days later I delivered a new denture, and the result was spectacular – looks great, fits snugly and functions well. Let’s just hope Marilyn doesn’t take this denture out and place it in a napkin! But if it is lost, at least I always put the owner’s name on the inside.


Marilyn lost her upper teeth!


Now Marilyn can smile again!


Mary came to our office from Patchogue – her daughter had recommended us to take care of her mother’s dental problems. Mary had been suffering with loose, infected teeth. She had already lost most of her upper teeth.  A front tooth had fallen out the day before she came to the office, and she arrived with tooth in hand. An upper denture with implants in the future and lower partial denture were indicated.  She was thrilled to learn that she would have teeth in a matter of weeks. She would be out of pain and would be able to smile and eat comfortably once again. Mary was anxious to get started so we took out the remaining teeth and scheduled impressions for the following week. Then the week after that we took some measurements, the week after that we had a dress rehearsal of the new teeth. One more week passed and she had her new teeth. Four weeks all told!

Her daughter flew up from Tampa to be here for the big day.  Her entire family loved Mary’s new smile and so did we. This is the start of a new life for Mary. She can go out in confidence.





I received this lovely email today:

Dear Dr. Terry Shapiro,

There’s a good possibility that I might not be back to your office. I’m adjusting to my new “Custom Dentures”. I’m writing to commend you for your patience with me and how I reacted to my new dentures. I want to tell you how pleased I am with both the comfort and aesthetics. My initial reaction was based on a distorted image of my prior dentures. My new dentures are in perfect alignment & look great. I would not hesitate to recommend you to anyone who is looking to improve their appearance. I’m 71 years old and I feel rejuvinated  because of what you did for me.

Thank you, EB

Here is my reply:

Hi Ed,

Thank you so much for your very kind words. It means a great deal to me. It is people like you who make dentistry so rewarding. It is why I love what I do. Please call us if you should need an adjustment. It is good for you to come back every year so we can check the health of your gums and check the dentures.

Karen and Meg are sisters. They started out with almost identical teeth.  But Meg smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for over 20 years. Karen never smoked. Guess which teeth below belong to Meg and which teeth belong to Karen? You guessed it – Meg’s teeth are at the top; Karen’s below.  Smoking is connected to periodontal (gum) disease. The bone resorbs, leaving a long tooth.  Without support of bone, the teeth loosen and move out of position. In Meg’s case, the front teeth became more crowded and became very protrusive. The teeth were so loose that she knew that it was only a matter of time before they would fall out , and she had already lost a couple of back teeth.  By the time she came to our dental office the gum disease was so advanced and the teeth so out of position that dentures were the best option for her.  She was very unhappy about the condition of her teeth, and she was excited at the prospect of having new teeth that would make her look more like her younger self. We will fashion our custom immediate denture for her.  Photos to follow!



Ray spent several years in the military. He was sent overseas, but before he left, the army surgeons removed all of his remaining teeth. His teeth were in poor condition but the military did not make dentures for him.  So for two years Ray had to function without any teeth at all. This means that he chewed on his gums.  This destroys the gums and resorbs the bone and makes it very difficult to make dentures that will stay in place.  But using my custom denture technique I made him dentures that are as good as they can be. We will add two implants on the top and two on the bottom for the dentures to snap into – giving him a more secure fit.  He is happy to be able to smile again.


No teeth



Did you know?

Did you know that more than 33 million Americans have no teeth

178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth.

Over 27% of the US population over age 65 have no teeth at all.

Only 9% of people without teeth wear dentures.

The average life expectancy of a denture is six to ten years. (But we can do much better than that!)

What is the greatest concern of the prospective denture wearer?  “I don’t want to have to take my teeth out at night.”  People still have childhood memories of grandma’s teeth floating in a glass by the bedside.  But rest assured – you don’t have to remove your dentures at night.  Well-made dentures today are quite unlike those bulky, loose dentures that your grandmother wore.  The processing is more high-tech.  Custom dentures fit much, much better and look very natural.

Dentures can remain in the mouth overnight.  Just take them out to clean and a short soak in a denture cleanser.  We have many patients whose spouses don’t know that they have lost their teeth and that they wear dentures.  Sure, implants are great and they don’t come out at all – but they are not for everyone.  We still see lots of dentures – their death is greatly exaggerated.

Check out our dentures.  Check out our implants.




Bernice’s old dentures were uncomfortable and unattractive and she could only eat soft, mushy foods.  In just four visits (three weeks total), with the help of our wonderful custom denture laboratory, we created new dentures for her.  She looks fabulous, eats everything (even steak and apples), and she is so comfortable, she says she often forgets that she is wearing dentures.  What more can you ask for?


Denise’s teeth were severely decayed, and we determined that they could not be saved.  We elected to remove her remaining teeth and replace them with an immediate denture.  This is a two visit procedure.  We take custom impressions. The immediate dentures are then fabricated by our fabulous denture laboratory. The teeth can then be extracted, and the immediate denture is inserted the same day – thus “immediate.”  The patient is NEVER without teeth. This takes careful planning!

The healing process then takes several months because the bone and soft tissues remodel where the teeth were extracted.  As the healing progresses, we reline the immediate denture so it fits the altered tissue.  We will see you for a reline as often as needed – sometimes once or twice, sometimes more.  Once the tissues are relatively stable, we will take custom impressions of the altered tissue and fabricate a new denture that will look great, function superbly and be very comfortable.  How good is that?