Dr. M. Dean Wright, Changing lives, one implant at a time

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What can you tell us about your background?

I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I’ve been married 42 years and have one son Matthew, an attorney with Koch Industries. I come from a middle-class family (I’m one of five brothers), and I’ve been working since I was 15 years old. While in college studying to become a medical doctor, I worked at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita as a medical technician.

Because of that experience, I realized that being an on-call medical doctor and having a family was going to be difficult; so I switched paths and went on to obtain a dental degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas, hoping to have more regular office hours.

No, we handle all phases of general dentistry. Our practice has 20 operatories and five dentists. Probably two-thirds of my day is spent doing implants, mainly 3M ESPE MDI Mini Dental Implants and Bicon Implants.

140310 drwright 01Why did you decide to focus on implantology?

People with missing teeth really suffer. In the past, partials and dentures were pretty inferior, and when we didn’t have implants, it was the best we had. I enjoy the challenge of combining oral surgery, advanced prosthodontics, and helping to put people back into everyday function by having their normal teeth back. Each day is new and exciting, and it keeps me going.

How long have you been practicing, and what systems do you use?

I began in 1976. I use 3M ESPE, Bicon®, and Straumann®.

What training have you undertaken?

I am a 1972 graduate of Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, with a BS in Chemistry and a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri – Kansas City Dental School.

Who has inspired you?

It really started with Dr. Gerald Niznick. He was the first American to build his own implant. When he started Core-Vent®, I took his courses and studied with him back in the late 1970s. He inspired me because having worked in the hospital, I could see the Core-Vent system made more sense and was simpler to understand. Dr. Ronald Bulard of Imtec Corporation and Dr. Victor Sendax of New York have also inspired me.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?

The ability to change people’s lives is the most satisfying aspect of our practice. People really struggle with their teeth. When you see that you can give hope to people who have given up hope, that’s so satisfying.

Professionally, what are you most proud of?

I’m pretty proud of that fact that I’ve placed over 15,000 implants. I’m sure I’ve placed more 3M ESPE MDI Mini Dental Implants than any other person in North America — over 100 implants a month at our practice.

What do you think is unique about your practice?

The fact that we can just about do it all, in-house, under one roof. When a patient comes into our office, we can do the 3D cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan, surgery, prosthetic, and ongoing maintenance.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Keeping up with technology has been my biggest challenge. Every day this business changes with new equipment and materials coming out all the time. You have to really filter through and try to figure out what’s good to use, what isn’t, what’s going to help you, what isn’t. Holding it all together while still treating patients is the biggest challenge.

What would you have become if you had not become a dentist?

That’s an interesting question. When I was young, I thought about becoming a professional musician. I could have easily been a medical doctor or an architect. (I earned a draftsman award in school.)

What is the future of implants and dentistry?

The future is enormous. I look at all the empty spaces in people’s mouths and the amount of implants they could potentially have. There’s no way we can even keep up right now, with twice as many people wanting them as before. And yet, we somehow have to keep implants cost-effective.

What are your top tips for maintaining a successful practice?

  1. Work hard.
  2. Be very good to your patients; we’re here for them.
  3. Do your very best work.
  4. Be enthusiastic, and stay excited about what you’re doing.

What advice would you give to budding implantologists?

This field’s too complicated to not give it your all. Learn, learn, and learn. Take continuing education courses. Get more advanced doctors to be your mentors, and do whatever it takes to keep advancing your education. You’re going to have to learn to just go out there and do it!

What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?

I love to play golf, and I love to travel. I like going to live shows and movies. I love to work out, and work out everyday. I really enjoy sports of all kinds, and family.

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