After graduating NYU College of Dentistry, Dr. David Zelby became a prosthodontist, a higher level of training allowing a primary focus on restorative dentistry and full mouth reconstruction.
Located at the Cobb Galleria as Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, Zelby is known for his lifelong commitment to helping others. In 2002, he received an Atlanta community service award in recognition of countless hours of service to the city’s underprivileged. And in 2008, then Gov. Casey Cagle named him “Honorary Senator” for the state of Georgia. Zelby served as chief of staff – now emeritus – of the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, where volunteer dentists treat Atlanta’s underprivileged in need of dental care.
He shares his approach to modern dentistry:
Jaffe: Is patient anxiety about dental procedures improving?
Zelby: Yes, modern technology has advanced in what we can offer anxious patients. As a licensed doctor of “conscious sedation,” I am able to prescribe medications in advance of your treatment that will reduce your anxiety. We can also alter the chemistry of the anesthetic, which can decrease the sting of the injection and enhance its longevity. On the technology side, there is now a computer-controlled dental syringe which can minimize discomfort by controlling the direction and speed of administration. Of course, we are able to administer more traditional methods such as nitrous oxide for mild anxiety levels.
Even the most fearful patients manage their anxiety and discomfort very well. Once they have been through a conscious sedation procedure, they develop confidence, and rarely need the advanced anxiety medications again. It is also helpful for patients who are gaggers or sufferers of other physical or mental disorders.
Jaffe: Are you using 3-D imaging?
Zelby: Yes, it provides a view of how teeth align and where they sit relative to the adjacent teeth. As a restorative dentist, I utilize 3-D imaging for crown design, fabrication and implant design and placement. Imaging dramatically speeds up the process and provides a higher degree of accuracy. It’s now possible to quickly create a complete dental prosthesis on the computer. Some treatments can be accomplished in a minimum of three visits, known as “teeth in a day,” or All-on-4 (implants).
Jaffe: Are ads for one-day cosmetic cases realistic?
Zelby: Honestly, no. It is possible to deliver the procedure relatively quickly, but the planning, diagnosing, imaging, and Q&A with the patient requires patience. I spend a lot of time listening to my patient and discussing expectations and goals.
“Teeth in Day” ads usually mean that after all the preparation, imaging, model work, fabrication and design, … then if everything is “correct” and we are on the right path, then things can be delivered in one day. That is in an ideal world. I encourage patients to not look for speed and immediacy, but for explanations of diagnosis and which treatment option is the best for them leading to ideal results of function, beauty and longevity. I always thoroughly provide patients with a clear understanding of their end result along with the maintenance of their new dental prosthetic or veneer.
Jaffe: Any unusual cases?
Zelby: That could be a book, but we have enjoyed a few “star” visits from the Georgia movie industry. Ben Stiller’s stunt double came in from an accident on the set. He presented with broken front incisors and needed to be “star ready” in a day. This was an example of “teeth in an hour,” working closely with my oral surgeon, we were able to accomplish a beautiful smile complete with front teeth and have him back to work the next day. Unfortunately, he had another accident within a week. He became such a fan of our office that he now travels from LA for his dental visits.