By Debbie Hall
Photos by AltF Photography
She is an expert in the dental field, giving to others, loving wife and mother
Dr. Cha received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Las Vegas; Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree from Washington University School of Dentistry; and her specialty degree in Periodontics from Northwestern University Dental School. Dr. Cha is also a Fellow and Diplomat of the International Board of Oral Implantologists, one of only three dentists in Las Vegas to be awarded this honor.
After moving to pursue her education, Dr. Cha returned to Las Vegas in 1993 to become the first practicing female Periodontist in Las Vegas. After several years operating an independent surgical practice and, along with her husband, Dr. Leon Chen, also an accomplished Periodontist, they began designing the Dental Implant Institute. In 2003 they opened the first dental implant training center in Las Vegas to teach the HSC technique. Today Dr. Cha offers expertise in dental implants, both surgical and restorative, specifically in full-mouth reconstruction. Her patients receive the most advanced dental care through revolutionary procedures, such as the 5-in-1 Technique, Sinus Lift and Vertical Translation, all procedures developed by the Dental Implant Institute. These revolutionary procedures are less invasive, cause very little to no pain, have a short-term recovery and provide a much higher rate of success.
Some questions that patients often ask:
Q: What is a Dental Implant?
A: A dental implant is a titanium screw that is placed in the jaw bone. Its purpose is to replace the missing root of a tooth. The whole process of placing the implant can take only a matter of minutes.
Q: What if I have one single missing tooth, or several missing teeth?
A: In the past, patients were given an option for a bridge, partial, or denture, to replace missing teeth. Today, you have another option, and that is dental implants.
Q: How long does it take to heal, and will I be in any pain?
A: Some dentists may perform dental implants in a style that was taught over 20 years ago, which is to extract the tooth, wait three months for the site to heal, place the implant, and then wait another three to six months for the implant to integrate. Today, both extraction and implant can be performed together using a technique that is not so new. In fact, it’s been around for about 15 years, and is used around the world today. This technique has a faster recovery and a higher rate of success.
Q: What if I am not a candidate for dental implants?
A: Everyone is a candidate for dental implants, before you let anyone convince you otherwise. I’d highly recommend you find an implant specialist, one who has the expertise and specializes in dental implants with bone reconstruction.
Q: Who are your typical patients?
A: In implant dentistry, people (usually) don’t come to you unless they’re in bad shape. The majority of the people that we see, especially since we do full-mouth reconstruction, are people who need multiple implants and crowns. But we also see patients that require only one implant and we also do general dentistry as well.
She is proud to state that, “I have a lot of patients who have been with me from 15 to 20 years and my patients trust me to take care of them.”
Dr. Cha’s state-of-the-art procedure, Hydraulic Sinus Lift, is a very sophisticated technique that only few have mastered. Developed by Dr. Leon Chen, the hydraulic sinus lift technique gives the dentist the ability to place implants simultaneously in the sinus, with very minimal pain. Traditionally, implants cannot be placed near the sinus, since the tissue is not thick enough to withstand the procedure. But, with this technique, the dentist can go through the same hole where the tooth was removed, gently lift the tissue (which is the membrane that lines the sinus), and then add bone to create enough space to place the implant under the membrane of the sinus. The implant works like a tent, keeping the membrane elevated. It takes about four months for the implant and bone to integrate.
She said that they have revolutionized their field, “The 5-in-1 technique is widely accepted in our academy as well. In order to be recognized, you have to be significantly involved in those organizations. The other option is to write numerous articles for clinical journals. But we were very busy seeing patients and were unable to dedicate the amount of time needed, unlike the professionals in academia who spend most of their time writing articles and not seeing patients.”
“What we developed is not a miracle. Any doctor who has any biological and surgical know-how would have done the same, but not too many surgeons also get involved in the restorative process, which is making teeth. The specialist surgeon, in a different location, will place the implant and then send the patient back to the dentist for the restorative process; there is little to no direct communication in this type of setup. A lot of times we invent something because the patient requests it and Dr. Chen and I are there to listen to it together. It is an advantage. I had a patient who was an opera singer and they cannot wear anything that comes in and out like a denture, so we had to create something for that patient (that was) permanent and we knew that was not a normal procedure, but knowing the biology of healing we knew it would work. That is why we started the 5-in-1 technique back in 2002.”
I have a lot of patients who have been with me from 15 to 20 years and my patients trust me to take care of them.
Dr. Cha usually removes all broken down teeth, cleans out all of the infection from the bone, places the implant(s) and provides the patient with a temporary crown(s) so they can chew soft foods for three or four months during the healing process.
“With our techniques, we can place multiple implants in under three hours. Nobody else can do that and we can deliver what they (the patients) expect in three to four months.”
Dr. Cha also makes certain her patients are comfortable. “You show the patient in the beginning that the procedure is minimally invasive and they soon realize that the procedure has very little pain and swelling associated with it. Once the patient realizes, ‘the shots don’t hurt, this is not that bad,’ their fear goes away, and they become great patients.”
There are numerous cases she’s particularly proud with one in particular. The patient came in one late afternoon, asked to have his teeth fixed. “He had a bad bone infection. All of the front teeth were flared out and it didn’t look good. He just wanted to have a nice smile again. We took out the infected teeth, which we call immediate ortho. For the flared out teeth, you can position the new implants in the correct position. We gave him a new temporary and … by the time he was done, his girlfriend picked him up and she didn’t recognize him. He looked handsome. All of a sudden he had nice white, straight teeth. You couldn’t tell it was the same guy.”
According to Dr. Cha, Americans have very beautiful teeth and this has become the standard for the rest of the world.
Along with the aesthetics of a beautiful smile, Dr. Cha explained, “Your teeth are such an important part of your body. People don’t realize it’s not just a secondary health issue; it’s actually one of the primary (issues). Being able to get an implant and to be able to chew properly, it can extend the overall health.
“When you get older, a person’s natural teeth start to become brittle and they break. The future of geriatric dentistry should include replacing questionable teeth while you are healthy and you’re able to heal well, so that when you are not so healthy you still have good teeth to provide proper nutrition. If you can still eat and get proper nutrition then you can heal better from any kind of illness. Teeth are very important for your overall health.”
Dr. Cha states that The Dental Implant Institute can provide a life-changing experience. “You see more of that immediate change about a week after the surgery stage. A lot of people come to my office (with bad, imperfect teeth) and once the procedure is complete, they leave with an exceptional smile. It’s a life-changing experience for them and it’s very gratifying for us.”
As for her practice, Dr. Cha admits, “I have to give all of that extraordinary success to my husband because he invented a lot of the procedures we use on patients … and he had the ambition to teach others, setup the institute, the facility, and the property and turned it all into what it is today.” As for working with her husband, she proudly states, “We’re a great team because we think alike. We work really well together.”
When not working, Dr. Cha is active in several charitable organizations in Las Vegas. She is a Gold Level sponsor for the American Heart Association, and also contributes generously to the Diabetes Foundation and the AIDS Foundation. She was on the advisory board of Clark High School, from where she graduated, for AMSAT, a math and science program for advanced students until the demand from her private practice prevented her continuing. She is a published author in numerous scientific journals, and international lecturer on dental implants and periodontics.
She is currently working on a project as a consultant for dental implant manufacturing companies to improve the dental implant prosthetic system, which will make it easier for the doctors and maintenance free for the patients.
Hair: Hair by Andeen
Makeup: Makeup by Didi
Styling: Laura Rubeli Image Consulting
6170 W. Desert Inn Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146