Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You April (and All Our Former Dental Assistants)

Dental AssistantsAs I am writing this letter, April is only a few short weeks away from giving birth to her second daughter! She will be beginning maternity leave at the end of this month and will be painfully missed by our entire team – especially me. I have known April since she was a little girl because she was a friend and classmate of my daughter Lauren.  She has been a member of our dental team for nearly ten years and she has been my favorite dental assistant of all time!

Not too long after April joined our team, I remember our celebrating her 21st birthday.  Liz, Maria and I took April to the Mediterra Bar in Princeton where she was served her first “legal” cocktail. She was very well behaved for a 21-year-old and has been that way for as long as I’ve known her.  It struck me as unusual that she would want to spend that occasion with us but we were very glad that she did.

April has always been an absolute pleasure to work with. She is one of the reasons that I look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work.  Discussing what has transpired since last seeing each other has been a daily ritual and she is the one who I can count on to stay calm in any situation; in a dental office, that type of personality is priceless.  April has some traits of which patients may not be aware.  As many of you know, I sometimes enjoy chatting away while working.  There are times when this “chatting” becomes – shall we say – inappropriate.  Generally, that’s because my mind is elsewhere as I’m focused on the task at hand.  At times like this, I will feel April kick my shin or utter an “ahem” which I have been trained to understand means “close the mouth”.  In a similar way, I have come to depend on April at times to translate what I am trying to say to a patient into words that make sense. Whether the conversation breakdown is due to a gender disconnect or too much “technicalese”, April has a way of conveying the substance of what I’m trying to say in an understandable way. That is an amazing gift.

The truth is that I have had a number of dental assistants with whom I truly enjoyed working.  In the several years before April began, my sister-in-law Zora (Liz’s brother’s wife) joined our team and worked with us until moving to Florida.  Both she and April were amazing because they learned every important instrument, technique and concept necessary to be outstanding dental assistants – and all within a three-month period.  This is not an easy feat and led me to feel that each of these women could be an excellent dentist if they had the desire and time.   Before Zora there was Allison who I also truly enjoyed working with for several years.  Allison joined us at the time I began attending LVI, and she traveled there with me, Liz and our then hygienist, Deanna.  We shared some wonderful times in Las Vegas and having trained together, were better able to implement what was learned there.

All of these dental assistants deserve much credit for the work that they do. Not only do they have to understand the dental materials, the techniques, ordering supplies and how to use the dental software, but they need to be even-tempered psychologists and dental concierges for our patients as well. What they do is hard work and they do it in such a way that the rest of the team as well as our patients are happy.

30 Days of Thanks- Post Graduate Teaching Institutes

Perhaps it will not be so surprising to hear that when a person graduates from dental school, he or she still has much to learn. To that end, there are a variety of post graduate teaching institutes available to engage those dentists who choose to carry on the learning process. There are schools or curricula for learning implants, dentures, crowns and bridges, cosmetics, TMJ and a variety of specialties and sub-specialties. It is up to each individual dentist to decide which path he or she chooses to pursue.

After graduating from dental school, and having served an “apprenticeship” in offices other than my own, I knew that basic drill and fill dentistry was not for me. I found that the study of occlusion – how the teeth, jaws and muscles work as a system – was fascinating for me and provided the basis for practicing dentistry with excellence. What we were taught about occlusion in dental school was adequate for a basic understanding only. So, I decided to begin studying this subject and have been studying it ever since.

I will be writing thank you letters to the important mentors in my life later this month, but I must mention Dr. Peter Dawson who is considered by many to be the father of modern occlusion–he actually wrote the book on it. In the late 1980s, I traveled to Richmond, Virginia to take a course from Dr. Dawson. As luck would have it, I ran into him at a restaurant in the airport as I was traveling home after his course. We had a very interesting conversation, and he suggested that I attend the L. D. Pankey Institute in Florida if I was serious about learning and understanding occlusion. I came to learn that this Institute was the premier of its kind and was attended by dentists from all over the world. So I did enroll as Dr. Dawson recommended.

post graduate teaching institutesI traveled to Key Biscayne, Florida on several occasions for the multi-day courses which were offered at this beautiful institute. I pursued the study of occlusion there over a four-year period and learned much, much more than simply occlusion. We learned about the practice of dentistry as well as a philosophy encompassing the balance between work, play, love, and spirit. The L.D. Pankey Institute changed my life, and allowed me to provide a level of dentistry of which I could be quite proud.

Las Vegas Institute_LargeMany years later, as Y2K approached, I became fascinated with providing more and finer cosmetic dentistry for my patients. At that time, the economy was in major growth; and patients had the desire as well as the means to improve their appearance. I had heard about a place called the Las Vegas Institute where outstanding cosmetic dentistry was being taught. The name of the Institute caused a bit of apprehension on my part, because I assumed that dentists went there simply because of its location, but I proceeded to take a course there. I actually brought a patient and performed her dentistry in their clinic after the associated classroom lectures. The patient who came with me was my wife, Elizabeth, and both she and I were ecstatic with the result.

As it turned out, students from all over the world also attended this teaching institution, and like my experience in Florida, they taught a philosophy of dentistry with which I became intrigued. It is here where I learned a different point of view about occlusion, and it is here where I developed my ability to better help those with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction and head or facial pain. I traveled there on many occasions over a period of more than 10 years and completed their entire curriculum of courses. During that time, the quality of my dentistry constantly improved and I loved the entire process.

I feel blessed to have found each of these two institutions which helped to shape me into the dentist that I am today. It is the dedicated teachers and researchers at these facilities who provided such amazing information about technique and materials as well as the philosophical basis for providing excellence in dentistry and life in general.

The next time that you are in the office, you will see two walls which are covered with certificates from those institutes. I am proud to have attended these two prestigious schools and THANK them for shaping my career into one of which I am proud.

To learn more about Dr. Peter Dawson, please click on this link: http://dental.thedawsonacademy.com/author/dr-peter-dawson 

To learn more about The Pankey Institute, please click on this link: http://www.pankey.org/the-pankey-experience/the-institute/photo-tour/

To learn more about The Las Vegas Institute, please click on this link: http://www.leadingdentists.com/about-lvi/

Celebrating 30 Years With 30 Days of Thanks

This year, during the month of November, we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the creation of our dental practice in Hillsborough.  In November of 1984, we opened a single operatory office on route 206 in a space currently occupied by a hair salon. I say “we” because the practice was originally a partnership between me and a fellow graduate from my dental school class.  The plan was for each of us to work in the practice three days each week until our practice grew to the point where we would both work in the office full-time. Our official first day was mine alone and there were two patients scheduled that day. There was no receptionist, dental assistant or hygienist. There was just me, and I clearly remember waking that day with a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach, probably not dissimilar from stepping out of a plane on your first skydive. Needless to say, the day ended extremely well owing mainly to the wonderful first two patients, one of who is still in our practice today!

30 Years of Thanks

While I was busy working on setting up this practice, I had a job with a dental clinic in Wayne, New Jersey where there was an amazing assistant whose name was Liz. I really enjoyed working with this particular dental assistant and asked if she had any interest in working in my new dental practice. Her response was an enthusiastic “yes” and she began working with me in early 1985 as our first and only team member.

As you may have figured out, the partnership with my classmate lasted only about a year at which time I decided to continue on alone. Over the next couple of years, our team grew with the addition of another dental assistant freeing Liz to become the receptionist.  Next, we hired a part-time dental hygienist and we were all set with a solid team and growing!  Those first several years were the happiest of my life. I absolutely loved working on my practice – watching it grow and prosper – and always enjoyed the patients who provided our team with such a sense of fulfillment and friendship.   Many of them remain our close friends today. 

We outgrew that first office in a couple more years and moved to our second office on Amwell Road, not far from where we are today. In that second office, we grew from two operatories to three and remained there for over 10 years. Then, in the early 2000’s, we moved to our current location where we built an office which works beautifully for us.  It expresses who we are and our patients find it to be both attractive and comfortable.


30 Years of ThanksEverything good that happened with regard to the success and growth of our dental practice has been due to  many, many people to whom we wish to express our gratitude during the month of November. In planning for this “30 Days of 
Thanks”, I had the opportunity to think back on all the wonderful times which were shared with my evolving team, patients, vendors, and mentors. I plan to share many stories with you during the month of November by writing public thank you notes to many of those wonderful people. I hope that you enjoy these stories and stay tuned for your turn to be thanked during next month.  Please watch our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/nadlersmiledentist – and our newsletters for information about the various prizes and giveaways which will also occur during our 30th Celebration Month. 

The last 30 years have been an adventure, a joy, a challenge, and a passion.  I look forward to this opportunity to formally thank so many of you who have become our friends over the past 30 years. All the best to you during this Thanksgiving month and throughout the Holidays!