Our 30th Anniversary Hillsborough High School Scholarship

The artwork which you see displayed in our office has been created by six Hillsborough High School Seniors who have applied for the Richard M. Nadler DMD, PA 30th Anniversary Scholarship.  One student will be selected to receive this scholarship based on their artwork submitted for display as well as letters of recommendation from two people who were influential in the selection of fine arts as their college path.  

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This scholarship is our way of expressing thanks to the Township as well as the people of Hillsborough for having been hosts for our dental practice for the past 30 plus years.  You may ask why would a dentist sponsor a Fine Art scholarship? Wouldn’t a career in science or medicine make more sense? Well, you may already know that I originally began my working career as an architect. I actually practiced that profession for a period of some ten years before returning to school to become a dentist.  One of the reasons that I chose architecture as my original career was because of my love of drawing and art. I have always had tremendous respect and admiration for those creative individuals who have the ability to express their imagination through the visual arts – whether it is on paper, canvas, film or in three-dimensional sculpture. So, I decided to also encourage a potential, local, up-and-coming young artist to pursue his or her career in the arts.

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I hope that in some small way this scholarship expresses the gratitude that our entire team has for the people of Hillsborough.   It is you wonderful people who have made coming to work each day our life’s fulfillment.

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Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You, Mentors!

I had wanted to complete all of our anniversary “Thank You’s” in November, but that was not meant to be.  Liz and I enjoyed a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend with our family and I decided not to rush through the final couple of articles as the people to whom they are directed have been important mentors in our lives.

With that being said, I feel extremely fortunate during my career for having found the perfect mentors who I needed at the exact time when I needed them. Each of these mentors helped our office and me personally to grow and focus on what is important and point out and help eliminate our weaknesses. I firmly believe in the value that mentoring provides for people in every situation and in every decade of life. It is my sincere hope that at some point in the future, I may give back to younger dentists some of that which I took away from my mentors over the years.

mentorsI have already mentioned in an earlier thank you article the first mentor who had a significant impact on my career – Dr. Peter Dawson. Shortly after dental school, I knew that I did not want to be an “ordinary” dentist who filled teeth all day, every day. I had also come to believe that a thorough understanding of occlusion was mandatory if I was to be an excellent dentist. The reason is because occlusion has an impact on just about every condition in the mouth including gum disease, TMD, appearance and everything having to do with the longevity of dental health. Since Dr. Dawson wrote the most important modern book on the subject, I decided to take his course and began to learn about this most complex subject. As I mentioned in the previous article, I had the amazing luck to run into Dr. Dawson in the airport as I was coming home after his class. It was at that meeting when he recommended that I begin studying at the L. D. Pankey Institute which I did.

It was on a gorgeous day in the summer of 1987 or thereabouts that I sat in my lounge chair with an occlusion textbook (which had been recommended as adjunct reading) on the beach at Spring Lake. That day was a turning point in my life as that was the day when occlusion began to make sense to me. To this day, whenever I choose to improve my understanding of any subject, I find no better place to do it than in a chaise lounge on a beach.  Now, some 25 years later, I am still studying occlusion and have attended the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies where I learned another philosophy on the same subject.  Thank you very much Dr. Dawson for helping me to begin on the right path.

Then, a few years later, as the office was getting busier, it became apparent that our lack of business management savvy was becoming an issue. My experience and reading had taught me that most businesses go through a progression of plateaus and the best businesses do what is necessary to face and address challenges as they arise. Common challenges include time management, team building, financial controls and the myriad of systems which make a business work.

mentorsTo that end, I was extremely fortunate to have met Dr. Michael Schuster. He and I shared a similar practice philosophy as he, too, practiced Pankey style dentistry and had a school called the Center for Professional Development (now called the Schuster Center) where a philosophy of practice management and the tools necessary to run a dental practice were taught. My team and I studied in this center in Scottsdale, Arizona for two years; and, during that time, traveled there on several occasions to learn how to better manage our office. In addition to the meetings in Arizona, there were monthly phone conferences, many books to be read and book reports to write. This course of study was like an MBA for dentists. After the first year, I clearly remember feeling so positive that I had recurring dreams about being able to fly –  seriously!

This course of study helped me to organize my entire life as well as our dental practice that eventually began to run like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, along with the process of self-discovery and success with the dental practice came the end of my marriage. I believe that if it were not for Dr. Schuster I would not be as successful as I feel today both professionally and personally. There, I was taught the value of setting goals and looking inward to take control of my life in a positive way. Thank you Dr. Schuster. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to you for providing exactly what I needed at that time in my life.

mentorsFinally, I’d like to thank Dr. Charlie Martin who is a dentist in Richmond Virginia and who ran conferences four times each year and facilitated a “mastermind” of like-minded dentists. Charlie is a passionate and hard-working dentist who has the ability to engage others with his point of view and extensive knowledge on various subjects. He was most helpful to me in helping to decide the most current direction in our dental practice. He provided what I needed to know,  and, as a result moved to the next level of my career. Unfortunately, Charlie has retired, but the effects of his efforts on all of our mastermind members will be felt for years to come.   Thank you Dr. Martin! This course of study helped me to organize my entire life, as well as our dental practice, which eventually began to run like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, along with the process of self-discovery and success with the dental practice, came the end of my marriage.

I am also grateful to Dr. Charlie Martin for having introduced me to a wonderful group of dentists who are equally passionate, hard working, intelligent and an absolute pleasure to share time with. I miss them and the conferences in Richmond, and I wish each of these friends much health, happiness and success for years to come!

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You, Maria and Our Hygienists

In today’s installment of our Thirty Days of Thanks, I have the pleasure of expressing my gratitude to Maria Slavinsky and all of our dental hygienists. Maria has been an important member of our team for the last eleven years! During that time, anyone who has been a “regular” in our office knows that Maria was married, had a baby and has become a most caring and involved mother. One reason that patients like her so much is that she begins every visit by “catching up” on the past six months and sharing the most recent pictures of her family. She has that natural gift of being able to bond with people and show her true interest in everyone for whom she provides care, not to mention her coworkers, friends and family.

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Patients also appreciate the fact that she is gentle and yet very thorough in her treatment. She provides a complete explanation of what is happening in each patient’s mouth, and has the knowledge to offer solutions for patients’ various issues and concerns.

As a team member, all of us appreciate Maria’s dependability, enthusiasm and cooperation. She has only missed being in the office on two extended occasions.  One of those occurred six years ago just after one of our office holiday parties. Apparently, Italian food jump started Maria’s contractions and she gave birth to her daughter Veronica within a day or so. The other occasion followed an incident in Maria’s kitchen when she was attempting to remove an avocado pit.   Without getting into too much detail, that incident resulted in surgery to properly reattach one of Maria’s fingers. She is no longer allowed to carve up avocados! I guess the only other time she regularly places herself in jeopardy is when she and her husband Dmitri and daughter Veronica go skiing, which I believe is as often as possible.

There is one trait which Maria has that you may not be aware of. It is a trait which I have come to share with her. We have both become rather germophobic over the years, so none of our patients needs to be too concerned about cleanliness around Maria. She and I wash our hands constantly after any questionable contact, and she is always cleaning up to get rid of any potential hazard.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Karen Cummins  I have known Karen for as long as I have been in Hillsborough, as her son Marty and my daughter Meredith were an item at one time. More importantly, Karen has been a part time hygienist in our office for many, many years; and, has a very loyal following of patients who want to be seen only by her. She has been a good friend to us over the years and we truly appreciate all her help.

Similarly, there have been other hygienists in our first two decades who were wonderful members of our team and provided excellent care for our patients. The work that hygienists do is not easy and requires dedication and skill to be done with proficiency.

Thank you to Maria, Karen and all the hygienists for your professionalism and friendship over the past thirty years.

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You, Our IT Partners

Thirty years ago, a dentist would not have had any idea that he or she would need IT partners to insure that his or her practice runs smoothly. So, in today’s installment, I would like to thank those companies who help to make our office run like a well-oiled machine while giving us more time to spend on patient care and less on managing our non-clinical affairs.

First there is Dentrix, our dental software company.   It is this company which provides all the software to make appointments, set up individual digital charts for patients, manage each patient’s account, submit insurance claims, and basically keep track of just about everything that goes on in our dental office. I vaguely remember managing all these details by hand until the late 1980s. It was very time consuming and not fun!   Dentrix is our second software company, and we have been with them for about 20 years. It is easy to take for granted everything that this software allows us to accomplish, but I believe that this company offers a wonderful product, keeps it current, and allows us to be so much more efficient.

Second, there is Dexis, our digital imaging company, which provides both the hardware and software for digital radiography (x-rays).  As I mentioned in our previous article, these digital x-rays are a huge improvement over the photographic system that we had used for over 20 years. So now, when we open the patient’s digital chart, all of his or her x-rays and photographs are visible and easily enlarged on our computer screens. The system has improved our ability to make proper diagnoses, explain what we see to patients, and keepg ongoing photographic record of patients’ conditions, which we have found to be so helpful in developing appropriate treatment plans for any given patient.

Third, I’d like to thank the Smilereminder Company (now called Solutionreach).    We have been with this company for close to ten years and they are responsible for the reminders which you receive before your appointments. They also allow us to stay in touch with you via our Digital newsletters, birthday cards, and holiday wishes. We have found that this company is very well managed and provides a great service for us as a dental office and for you as patients.

Finally, I’d like to thank Gilleard Marketing for producing our newest website and maintaining it in a professional manner. We feel that this website reflects a true image of our office and we appreciate Keith Gileard’s photographic and creative skills to produce such a fine website. I consider Gilleard to be a very important IT partner in the day-to-day management of our dental practice and I would recommend his work to anyone who seeks such service.

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I hope that this brief view of our dental management technology has offered you some insight. We always encourage and welcome your comments about this and any other technology. Feel free to ask us about it or offer your opinions the next time that you are in the office.

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You Technology

Before I begin today’s topic, I must correct a glaring omission from the thank you letter I wrote to April and all of our dental assistants. There is a woman who was our second dental assistant after Liz back in the mid 80’s and describing this person provides a perfect segue into today’s subject. The person to whom I refer is Remi, a very attractive young woman, who would come to the office dressed in popular clothing of the time, which were stretch pants and high heels with the top of her choice. Naturally, Remi was very popular among my male patients as well as being a top-notch dental assistant.  I had the pleasure of working with her for a couple of years until her family moved to North Carolina  but Remi and I stayed in touch.  Then, during the 90’s, we became quite good friends socially. When April began her first maternity leave, Remi stepped in to help us and remained on a part-time basis until she left for a new full-time position.  Remi is owed a big thank you for both her friendship and her contributions to our dental practice.  Remi, please forgive me for not having included you in the first article!!

But what does Remi have to do with today’s topic?  Today, I will express thanks for the amazing progress that we have made in dentistry owing to the development of various technological advancements. At the same time, I’ll have an opportunity to describe how the practice of dentistry has changed in the last thirty years. So, if you can picture Remi wearing stretch pants and high heels, you will realize that what we wear today is far different from the “uniform” of thirty years ago.  Better yet, if you can picture what Remi was not wearing at the time, you will understand the first major change that occurred in dentistry in the last thirty years.

Thank you technologyWhat Remi was not wearing back then was gloves, a mask and all the other outer protective garments, which are mandatory today. What changed was the AIDS epidemic had begun and the use of all  protective clothing and shields became mandated.  After having practiced “wet fingered” dentistry for several years, wearing gloves was initially quite a challenge due to the loss of tactile sensation that resulted.  But we all adapted and have since incorporated a multitude of protocols and protective items to protect not only those who work in the dental office but also every patient.

Thank you technologyThe next major change for dental practices was the use of computers which began in the mid to late 1980’s. I remember buying my first computer, an IBM with a whopping 50 MB of memory! Bear in mind that is megabytes and I’m not referring to RAM. This computer took some getting used to, but relieved us of hours upon hours of paperwork every day as all appointments and transactions had been done by hand up to that time. As you can imagine, the computers kept getting bigger and doing more for us every year.  Now, the practice of dentistry and the use of computers are totally integrated and amazing.

Thank You technologyToday, the world of dentistry is becoming more and more digital. By now, most of my patients have seen the digital x-rays which we employ.  These x-rays are so large and easy to read that patients can easily see what we see with minimum coaching. These x-rays can be manipulated in terms of contrast, size and various other features.  Similarly, in the future, impressions will be taken digitally using a small intraoral camera rather than all of that impression gook which many patients are not fond of.

If you’ve been in our office for the last dozen years or so, you’ll note that we also use a digital camera to record photos of your teeth.  In addition, we have an intraoral camera which takes close-up images of the teeth.    The use of these photographs helps us to better diagnose what is going on in a given patient’s mouth as well as the ability to easily explain conditions and options to patients.

Thank you technologyOne of my favorite newer pieces of equipment is called the K7.  We have been using this system for the past five years or so to help us better diagnose and treat patients who have Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.   This piece of equipment allows us to evaluate the jaw muscles, jaw movement and joint sounds. Using this piece of equipment, we can determine in an objective way the best position for an individual patient’s jaw.  Since using the K7, we have been able to help many patients who were suffering with a variety of TMD symptoms.   If you have any interest in the subject, you may find additional information on the website  www.myotronics.com  .

Other technological advances which assist us in our day to day treatment of patients include the use of the diode laser, the Wave One root canal system, and the Diagnodent cavity detection device.

Thank you technologyThe diode laser has a multitude of uses including preparing teeth for impressions, cosmetic re-contouring of the gums, the treatment of periodontal or gum disease and the speed healing of canker sores and fever blisters just to name a few. This is a marvelous piece of equipment which is kind to patients for its healing properties, its gentleness not requiring the need for anesthesia in many cases, as well as its ability to work without creating bleeding.

The Wave One root canal system is an equally wonderful system which helps us to perform root canal therapy for patients in less time than in the past while being more thorough at the same time.

Thank you technologyThe Diagnodent cavity detection device uses a laser to detect the presence of decay in an extremely accurate manner. We had even seen that it finds decay which is not visible either on x-ray or in the mouth but serves to help patients avoid more extensive treatment due to lack of prompt care.

The descriptions provided above of the technological advances which we have seen the last 30 years is by no means a complete list. Suffice it to say, the practice of dentistry is far more enjoyable, accurate and just plain better than it was in the 80’s.

Thank you to all the pioneers who helped to develop the technology that we use today. It will be fascinating to watch dentistry continue to evolve in the next thirty years!

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You Dental Specialists

This next addition of our letters of gratitude is dedicated to all the specialist dentists with whom I’ve worked during the past 30 years.  Many years ago, I was taught that there are the four “R’s” for fixing teeth. They are Remove, Restore, Reposition or Refer! So, in other words, the buck stops with the specialist.  These are the doctors who take care of patients who have more difficult and unusual and complex problems.  The general dentist will ideally remain as the quarterback for his patients by coordinating his or her treatment with specialists as needed.   So a good working relationship between generalists and specialists is critical. Serving as the patient’s advocate by choosing appropriate and qualified specialists is an important aspect general dentist’s role.

A great specialist is one who is absolutely up to date in the care that is delivered. He or she is an excellent communicator and can explain what possible treatment options are available and/or necessary and why.   I have had the good fortune to work with many such specialists.  What follows is a list of these dentists by specialty who deserve the gratitude of both the patients and the dentists who referred them.

Orthodontists 

Laurene Wolf who is the orthodontist of our hygienist Maria and her husband

Frederic Sterritt and Richard D’Avanzo who have several offices in central NJ.  Dr. Sterritt was my daughter Meredith’s orthodontist

Rick Wright with whom I shared a small world moment as I was walking through the Louvre and who was my daughter Meredith’s orthodontist

Mary Richmond with whom I’ve worked on cosmetic cases and who sees patients in the Skillman and Princeton areas

Barry Rosenfeld who treated my wife Liz back in the 1980’s

Endodontists (root canals)

Annmarie Brennan and Raj Lall who have wonderful chairside manners and are very helpful in helping patients who have pain which is difficult to isolate, teeth with tricky curved or narrow canals, and saviors of those with acute pain.

Oral Surgeons

Robert Albin, Joel Efron and Alan Hecht who have offices in Hillsborough and Somerville.  I have worked with Dr. Albin since first opening in Hillsborough and all three of these doctors since their group formed back in the 90’s.  This group removed my daughter Meredith’s impacted wisdom teeth.

Kerry McKay whose untimely, recent passing is mourned by many friends and patients.  We’ll miss him.

Samuel Levine is located in Princeton and has provided excellent care for several of my patients.

Periodontists

David Goldberg with whom I work very closely on the majority of implants cases.  Dr. Goldberg is well liked and respected by patients and dentists alike for both gum issues and implants.  Dr. Goldberg has a gift in how he works with patients and provides excellent care

Tat Chiang and I have worked on patients together for years.  He is a part-time professor who is well abreast of current techniques and care.

Jean-Pierre Arnoux, Raoul Figueroa and John Lu are located in Lawrenceville and were trained at U. Penn.  I have been working with this group for for about 7 years and have had only positive feedback from patients.  They are a pleasure to work with.

Richard Staller is located in Princeton and has provided excellent periodontal care for patients.

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I’d like to thank all of the doctors above and any who I may have inadvertently omitted for the excellent care which they have provided for my patients over the past thirty years.  All the best to you for a wonderful holiday and a happy, healthy 2015!

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.

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You Office Assistants

Many years ago, we began hiring high school students who would work after school and help us in various ways around the office. These students offered a breath of fresh air because of their youthful optimism, their lightheartedness, their occasional drama and their desire to help. From my point of view, there seemed to be a symbiotic relationship between these office assistants and our team; they received training in how an office is managed and how to be an effective team member.  They also received a paycheck and accordingly learned something about taxes :).   We received much needed help in the afternoons when it was most needed. This made our dental assistants happy.

In recent years, we have had some outstanding high school assistants. First there was Michelle, the daughter of one of our good friends, who was blessed with an infectious smile and upbeat personality to go along with her ability to learn fast and lend a hand. Next was Marissa, who remained with us for over two years before leaving for college. We watched as Marissa grew to be most helpful around the office and another smiling person who could be counted on as a pleasure to be around.  I am sure that she will continue to be very successful in college and I look forward to watching her educational development. Now, we have welcomed Jacqueline – Michelle’s younger sister – as our current assistant.  She has been a very fast learner and proves to be yet another positive asset to our team.

There have been many other such students who have helped us through the years. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all for being so helpful to our entire team and contributing to the fun work environment that we enjoy.

Office Assistants

Dr. Nadler with Jacqueline and Laura

In addition, over the past few years, we have added a new position to our team – our non-clinical personal assistant. This person is responsible for all non-dental communications with our patients and referring doctors.  It is she who keeps our patients and the public abreast of what is going on in our office, and it is she who creates the various monthly specials and disseminates news and information via social media.   All her efforts have received very positive feedback.

Our first personal assistant was Nicole and she was exceptional in her ability to organize and systematize all of her work.   In addition, she created office brochures, developed social media awareness and introduced me to other doctors with whom I collaborate to help our patients.  After Nicole there was Shilpa and Allison who were friends of each other and were both extremely capable. Our current personal assistant is Laura who you will see in our reception area when you first enter the office. Please make sure to say hello and perhaps ask her what is going on currently.  I am sure that she will have some interesting ideas to discuss.

In closing, our entire team would like to send a big Thank You to each of the high school student assistants and to our personal assistants for all that you have done to help us do what needs doing, and for just being such a pleasure to work with. We wish all the best to each of you for a wonderful holiday season and happiness and success in the future.

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You, Marty Schayowitz

It is a pleasure to write this thank you note to a man who I have known since the late 1980s, a man who has been involved with my dental practice since we first met, and a man who has grown to be my friend – Marty Schayowitz.

Marty was building his new dental supply company around 1987 or 88. I met him at a meeting of a dental study club to which I belonged where he was a guest ostensibly introducing his new company.  I distinctly remember cringing at the way Marty was treated by the dentist running the meeting, so I approached Marty once the meeting had ended and offered my apologies for this bad behavior.  I asked him if he would like to call on me to see if we might work together and I have been with Marty ever since.

Marty is not one to be complacent. After a few years, he sold his business to another bigger supply company but liking Marty so much, we stayed with him. Since then, he has moved on twice more and we are still with him and would not think of working with anyone else.

What makes Marty so successful? He is one of those special people who truly cares about those he calls on. If we ever had an issue, Marty would address it and find a solution pronto. If we needed additional information or recommendations regarding dental materials, disposable supplies, or the myriad of other items which a dental office uses, Marty would either know the answer or find the right person who could answer the question for us. He’s just one of those people who always seems to give more than he receives.

Marty Schayowitz and Richard Nadler

Over and above his caring for us professionally, I believe that Marty actually considers his clients as extended family. Every year, on at least one occasion, Marty arranges “appreciation dinners” or fishing trips or meetings at beautiful restaurants for his fortunate clients.   As a matter of fact, I am attending one such dinner this evening at a restaurant in Morristown where we will learn about new dental restorative materials. Thanks to Marty, my wife Liz and I have enjoyed many interesting and unusual outings with a great group of dentists.

In addition to these professional events, Liz and I had the pleasure of attending Marty’s wedding to his wife Arlyn.  A few years later, we and several other clients of Marty’s were guests at a dinner honoring Arlyn for her public service. Marty has always made us feel like friends rather than just clients and both Liz and I feel a special bond of friendship with him.

In conclusion, Thank You Marty Schayowitz for years and years of caring for our dental practice, helping us when help was needed, and for just being our friend.

Sincerely yours,

Richard and Liz Nadler

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/