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Dental1 Hero: Dr. Les Burstein

Dr. Les Burstein: Dental Implant Advocate

October 18, 2007


Doctor Les Burstein practiced in NYC for 16 years after graduating from Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery. He relocated the practice to Great Neck, NY in 1996. He began placing dental implants in 1987 with a case completion success rate of 100%. Every case started was completed, and those patients still visiting for their continuing maintenance care are functioning well in good health. Doctor Burstein worked at Columbia in dental research while a student at the dental school. He presented two research papers at meetings of the American Academy of Dental Research. The information was published in international dental research journals.

He was a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Periodontics at Columbia from 1980 to 1983. He was an attending faculty member in dentistry at Flushing Hospital, NY, from 1980 to 1985 and at Long Island Jewish Hospital from 1997 to 2000. He was a guest lecturer on dental implants at the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset for the Implant Dental Resident Program from 2003-2004.

Doctor Burstein has provided a continuing education lecture and seminar program for general dentists since 1993. Educational topics include dental implant restoration and surgery, periodontal gum therapy including bone regeneration and gum recession correction.

Doctor Burstein was elected to the Student Clinicians of the American Dental Association board of directors and served as president of that prestigious association. His practice concentrates on oral rehabilitation for patients who have lost all or some teeth, and he works closely as a member of the treatment team with his restoring dentists.

Dental1: Why did you decide to incorporate dental implants into your practice?

Dr. Burstein: I started to incorporate dental implants into my periodontal practice in 1987. The original stainless steel implants prior to the introduction of modern titanium implants had a horrible history with too many failures leading to massive bone damage. The titanium implant was revolutionary in that it actually incorporated with the bone – the bone actually grew onto and around the implant. I knew that this would transform dental care. In 1993, I presented lectures at the Greater New York Dental Meeting and for a private group of dentists in Puerto Rico stating that dental implants were the new state of the art treatment for tooth replacement. We would not provide our patients with the best standard of care unless we offered implants as the first and best tooth replacement solution. It is also important for patients to understand that there are different types of implant restorations: caps, permanent bridges and dentures secured by implants. The dentist will explain each option that is appropriate for that patient.

Dental1: What are patients’ biggest misconceptions about implant treatment?

Dr. Burstein: I find that a poorly informed patient believes that dental implant therapy is painful. It is not. I have an implant replacing a fractured tooth, and I can speak from personal experience. Obviously, each doctor has different skill levels, but when treated by a skilled doctor, no patient should feel any significant discomfort. My Web site, which will be completed in the coming weeks, provides viewers with many letters from my patients stating that they had little or no post-surgical discomfort. Everyone, without exception, loves their implant tooth replacements.

The other misconception is the length of time of treatment. This depends on each case. Some cases need to repair damaged bone and will be treated in stages. Others can have an implant placed immediately and, in appropriate cases, a temporary tooth placed on the implant that same day. Each patient has different needs and his/her case must be treated to assure the best possible long-term, trouble-free result.

Dental1: What do you think is the best way for patients to learn about implant treatment?

Dr. Burstein: There are many implant information sites available for our patients. These include Dental1 and sites published by doctors, such as my upcoming site. Dental societies, the American Academy of Periodontology as well as several dental implant companies all have informational sites and links. My best recommendation for a patient seeking information and advice is to see a qualified practitioner for a comprehensive exam and consultation. As a healthcare provider, I am obligated to provide an exam that evaluates the remaining teeth, the bone, and the patient’s medical health and then determine and recommend the best treatment choices. This may or may not include dental implants. Doctors treating their patients in this manner will provide literature and take the time to explain dental implant care, which is predictable and successful in almost all cases.

Dental: Are there any drawbacks to a patient scheduling a consultation if he or she is unsure what treatment they are interested in?

Dr. Burstein: Absolutely not! The best recommendation that I have is for a patient to seek an evaluation with a qualified doctor. As I stated, it is our responsibility to provide a comprehensive dental examination reviewing his/her medical history and present to the patient every choice for his or her treatment. We have the training, knowledge and clinical experience to best inform them of the options available to help them replace lost or failing teeth – which allows them to enjoy a happy life with good teeth and a great smile. People chose the quality of their car and vacations, but many do not realize that their oral functions in life are very important: their smile, chewing and tasting food. Facial features can collapse with loss of supporting teeth, and replacing teeth with implants can provide a 'face lift' with elimination of old age wrinkles about the mouth and denture appearance.

Dental1: How quickly can you provide patients with teeth? Can this be accomplished in one day?

Dr. Burstein: Each case has different requirements: some can have implants placed the same day as the examination (usually as an emergency, such as a fractured tooth), and depending upon the case and the patient, some may be capable of receiving a temporary tooth at the same time. Other cases are best treated in stages to allow the result to be as perfect and as esthetically pleasing as possible. One patient in treatment at this time had a few lower teeth retained to support a temporary set of caps while adjacent teeth were removed, bone grafts placed and then implants placed. When the implants were ready to hold the caps, the last teeth were removed and implants were placed immediately. He never wore a removable denture. However, his hopeless upper teeth were all removed, and he had to wear a denture. In October, he will receive 10 upper implants with teeth placed upon them immediately. Each case must be treated according to the available bone and the needs of that individual patient.

Dental1: Is there anything else you would like to share with the Dental1 community?

Dr. Burstein: When I graduated from Columbia University dental school in the late 1970s, I practiced periodontics, and my goal was to save all teeth that could be retained for the long term while treating others as long as they were usable and pain free. If a failing tooth jeopardized the bone on a healthy neighboring tooth, it was removed. With the introduction of today’s predictable and highly successful dental implants, the direction of my practice changed to selectively removing teeth that are failing, even if usable for the short-term, because in order to place a dental implant, it is critical to protect all the good bone surrounding failing teeth. If you lose bone as you continue to treat a failing tooth, there will be less bone to support the implant, resulting in the patient having to endure the unnecessary time and expense of bone regeneration surgery. In addition, the best-looking and most natural results occur when more bone is available for treatment. The single most important suggestion that I can make for the Dental1 community is for a patient to find an experienced dentist who is knowledgeable and capable of evaluating his or her individual needs, making all appropriate treatment recommendations. That doctor will explain the benefits and risks for each treatment option and help the patient to make a decision on their therapy.

Click here to visit Dr. Burstein's Web site.

Last updated: 18-Oct-07

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