At social get-togethers, I’m often asked about my profession. I tell them that I like to help people, building their self-esteem and improving their health, by creating a beautiful smile. The conversation often leads to their past experiences with dental pain, missing or losing teeth, or their natural fear of the unknown. But what is the value of looking back? I prefer to look forward, at the possibilities. I explain the importance of replacing teeth permanently to ensure comfortable, pain-free chewing – for life – while designing a natural smile that matches their complexion and smile line. Once people think about their dental care from this perspective, I know that I am in for an enjoyable, but long, conversation – until my wife rescues me. I always consider it a privilege to educate people so they make informed decisions.
To earn the title of Prosthodontist, I completed three additional years of rigorous training at Northwestern University Dental School, after working as a licensed dentist for 3 years. While there, I focused on the form and function of each type of tooth in the mouth, plus their integration into healthy, stabile bone. I spent hours constructing tooth replacements in wax, plaster, and metal castings. Each was critiqued by several instructors in excruciating detail. Why did I bother?
Since elementary school, my favorite subjects were Science and the creative aspects of Art. I liked to draw things and participated in every science fair that came along. In fact, I’m told that my 200-page Dried Leaf project, which won first prize in a national competition, is still on display at the school! To the amazement of my family and friends, I’d catch frogs with my bare hands (no one else could!) and bring them back to our family’s pond, where I maintained the proper conditions for 10 of them. This developed my problem-solving skills, and helped me pay attention to even minor details. It also made frogs easier to study.
My family heritage includes four generations of Civil Engineers, so I was exposed to many creative projects that served a vital purpose. Sometimes I went to work with my dad, and saw drawings and designs for the construction of roads and bridges. I especially liked the bridges. Of course, I got “snickers” when offering solutions from a kid’s perspective, but I also learned how to visually take apart the components to create a better design – right inside my mind! It helped that my mom allowed me to take apart and re-assemble at least five family radios, the main source of entertainment in an era prior to the current Electronics Revolution. You can probably imagine the parts, pieces, and experimenting that she endured. I was on my way to becoming an engineer! Then came high school and those summer breaks.
When my cousin attended dental school, I got to visit her every summer. I was fascinated by her work in the dental lab. There, I discovered other ways to develop creative designs and solve problems. The thought processes resembled the process for designing public infrastructures in my father’s career, except that dental work didn’t focus on convenience and safety. It focused on function and esthetics, which improved the quality of life for others. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of pursuing my passion and the joy of helping patients EVERY day that I work, because my work involves science, the creative aspects of art, and engineering for long-term function.
Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.