Fulfillment through serving people
What can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in Anderson, Indiana, and was born and raised as a Hoosier. It was a great place to grow up. I learned to love outdoor activities with lots of camping and became an Eagle Scout. I attended Indiana University in Bloomington and graduated in Biological Sciences and Psychology in 1973. I attended Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis and graduated in 1977. I had several uncles who were physicians, and I knew I wanted to go into some field of medicine. Dentistry seemed to be just the right fit.
My high school girlfriend and wife of 38 years and I reacquainted while I was in dental school. We married 1 month after graduation, packed up a U-Haul®, and moved west to the Navajo Indian Reservation in Window Rock, Arizona. I served with the Indian Health Service, U.S. Public Health Service for the next 3 years as a Facility Dental Officer in a unique and fascinating cultural environment.
By then the West had grown on us, and we wouldn’t turn back. I established a private general dentistry practice in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, contiguous with Albuquerque, fueled with a 1980 bank loan with an interest rate of 24.25%. (Ouch!)
Is your practice limited solely to implants, or do you practice other types of dentistry?
I practice comprehensive dentistry and utilize implants as an integral part of my treatment planning. A significant part of my practice is reconstruction using the principles of Orognathic Bioesthetics International (OBI).
Why did you decide to focus on implant dentistry?
I began restoring dental implants in 1984 after attending training at a Brånemark course. A periodontist began using my office as a satellite in the 1980s, and he was placing the IMZ® implants with its intramobile element developed by Axel Kirsch in Germany. I saw the great opportunity to help patients with both fixed and removable dental prosthetics using implants, and I have developed my continuing education and training in that direction since then.
Do your patients come through referrals?
We frequently receive referrals from existing patients, other dental professionals, and the State of New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Program, where I have helped people from all over our large state, primarily with TMJ-related injury issues. Many of these patients have benefited from implant-retained restorations.
How long have you been practicing implant dentistry, and what systems do you use?
I have been restoring dental implants for 31 years, and I began placing dental implants 13 years ago. I have accumulated no less than 15 different surgical and restorative systems during that time. I have had the most success with the internal connection systems. I currently use the Ossotanium implant system, which uses nanoparticle titanium implants. These implants are twice as strong as implants using conventional titanium, and the osseointegration time and loading times are significantly reduced. This facilitates immediate loading and temporization, a much appreciated advantage to patients over removable appliances for temporization, especially in the esthetic zone. The Ossotanium system also offers bone level, tissue level, one-piece, and mini implants. We have been able to offer immediate temporization through immediate loading, utilizing the system’s temporary abutments and sleeves to fabricate provisional restorations.
What training have you undertaken?
I have been an avid believer in continuing education ever since graduation from dental school. I have sought and achieved Fellowship and Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry and have completed over 3,000 hours of continuing dental education. Membership and training in courses offered by the AAID have also been very valuable to me. I was fortunate to have Dr. Walter Schuman, a principal with the BASIC Dental Implant System, mentor me and coach me in the actual placement of my first implants in my office. For the last 10 years, the greatest and most valuable source of my hands-on training has been through the New Mexico Dental Implant Study Club, which I helped initiate. Our study club has up to eight members at a time, and we meet 8 times per year, for treatment planning and surgical sessions. We have been privileged to have the mentorship and support of Dr. Steven Holbrook since our inception.
Who has inspired you?
My personal inspiration has come from my faith and clergy over the years who have guided me along the path of serving my fellow man with my God-given ability to help other people. Professionally, Dr. Steven Holbrook has been a great inspiration and mentor with his seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm toward excellence in dental implantology.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
The heartfelt thanks and show of appreciation from patients whom we have served are the most satisfying aspects of my practice. Dr. Albert Schweitzer said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
I have many patients who have placed their trust in me since the early 1980s when I opened my private practice. As I have acquired new technologies, and as the science of implantology has grown, I have been able to offer the benefits of implants to an increasing number of patients. My patients now have children and grandchildren who still consider me their dentist. I am also proud of the relationships I have developed and nurtured with dental colleagues and specialists, as well as with my wonderful staff. I served as a Co-Chairman for the 2014 New Mexico Mission of Mercy, a large-scale, 2-day free dental clinic that provided just over $1 million of dental treatment. In 2 days of joyful giving, 1,344 volunteers, including dentists, hygienists, assistants, and community volunteers, served 1,055 patients with 8,633 procedures.
What do you think is unique about your practice?
We have a beautiful location with our operatories and balcony looking out over the Rio Grande Valley and onto the Sandia Mountains. We offer comprehensive care utilizing the diagnostic and reconstructive principles of Orognathic Bioesthetics International (OBI). We take the time to educate patients about ideal or optimum treatment after listening to their concerns, goals, and factors that influence their decisions about treatment. When patients have missing teeth, we offer them the same treatment we would want for ourselves and our families.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Balance and harmony in life are very important. It is easy for me to enjoy our profession so much that the other components of love, recreation, family, friends, and faith do not get an adequate share of time.
What would you have been if you had not become a dentist?
I think I would have enjoyed being an electronics engineer because of my love for gadgets. With the amazing improvements and technology in digital photography, I may still become a professional travel photographer. But for now, I’m still getting a lot of enjoyment from the practice of dentistry.
What is the future of implants and dentistry?
I think we will see much more utilization of the nanoparticle-structured titanium implants because of their greater strength and faster integration time, which will permit us to provide excellent service in a shorter period of time. As patients become more educated about the benefits of dental implants in general, more demand will occur for the services of qualified and trained generalists and specialists who can provide these services.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful practice?
I imagine myself sitting in the dental chair every time I treat a patient. Whether I’m giving a super-gentle injection or discussing a potential treatment plan with a patient, I want to treat patients with the same respect and dignity I would want for myself. I am currently blessed with having the best staff of my career in dentistry. They frequently speak of their appreciation for me, and I try to reciprocate with praise for a job well done to them. So much of the success of a dental practice depends on having a great supportive staff. I love going to work and treating people with the help of my dental family.
What advice would you give to a budding implant dentist?
Challenge yourself to move forward with your education and experience in implant dentistry. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Go to implant courses and participation training with different systems. Even though each system has its own unique qualities and selling points, you will discover and be reinforced by the commonalities among them. Find a mentor for support and learning, which is always a two-way street. Find a dental lab that gives you great support for implant cases. I have been blessed with having the support of two great labs in New Mexico — Esthetic Dental Arts laboratory and New West Dental Lab.
What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
My wife and I have enjoyed traveling to many parts of the world, and we have many more to see. Planning our trips is an ongoing pleasure in our spare time. I enjoy photography, and this has been an important part of our travels, internationally as well as within the United States, and our beautiful Land of Enchantment, New Mexico. We enjoy cruising both on river ships throughout the world and on oceangoing cruise ships. I had the pleasure of working with Holland America Line in the SeaDentist program for two or three cruises per year for 5 years, cruising in many parts of the world and doing dentistry onboard the ships. SCUBA diving has been an enjoyable hobby of mine since I was a teenager. Our yearly trips to Mexico include diving excursions.