What can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale and Duck Key, Florida, the youngest of four children of a medical surgeon father and adoption attorney mother. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and dental degree from Nova Southeastern University. While in dental school, I met my future wife in the anatomy lab, and we have become quite the dental couple!
During this time, I received several awards for clinical and academic dentistry, including being able to present an implant case poster at the Astra World Congress in 2008 with my wife. After graduating from dental school, I went to practice in the Florida Keys with Dr. Fred Troxel, a recognized restorative and implant dentist. Fred taught me an incredible amount about dentistry and practice management while giving an opportunity to cement my desires to be intimately involved with implant dentistry with an emphasis on implant overdentures. I returned to dental school, enrolling in a Prosthodontics program at Ohio State University, and did everything I could to absorb the “fire hose of information” in a residency program. Under the tutelage of Drs. Julie Holloway, Wayne Campagni, Ed McGlumphy, Ernest Svensson, and Robert Seghi, I was able to develop and publish foundational research on implant overdentures.
Soon after graduating as a Prosthodontist, I became a dual faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and Loma Linda University. While at UNLV, I took over a pre-doctoral implant program that was doing a trickle of cases and opened up the floodgates, as my goal was to get every student to restore implant cases and, for those who had an interest, to place standard and narrow diameter implants. The dental students at UNLV are a special group, and throughout my tenure they were thrilled about learning as much as possible about implant dentistry. My greatest academic reward was knowing that in UNLV’s first 9 years, two students enrolled into Prosthodontics residency programs, but during my 2 years as faculty, we had three people enroll in 1 year! While my wife was studying at Loma Linda’s Orthodontics program, I became involved with the Prosthodontics program. It is such a pleasure being able to teach side by side with amazing faculty, Drs. Matthew Kattadiyil and Charles Goodacre.
I began practicing in Sonora, California, after a practice opportunity became available from a retiring implant dentist. After previously practicing in a more rural environment in Florida, I have fallen in love with the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as it allows me to focus on comprehensive restorative and implant dentistry.
Is your practice limited to implants?
Since I am in a more rural environment, I have decided that limiting my practice to only implant dentistry would not be the best fit for my community. While my principle focus is on implant dentistry, specifically full arch restoration with fixed or removable restorations, I feel it is important in my area to be able to provide comprehensive Prosthodontics and be able to provide specialized services to patients and to assist other dental providers in challenging cases.
Why did you decide to focus on implantology?
Implant Dentistry is exciting. People come to my office asking for implants because they know it will change their lives. When I was in dental school, I was told by faculty that people don’t come in asking for implants; they come in asking for teeth. I find that this has changed significantly over the years. People are now coming to my office because of my credentials, clinical experience, and reputation within the community.
How long have you been practicing, and what systems do you use?
I have been practicing for over 7 years and have almost every major implant system in the marketplace. In my own office, I use Biomet 3i™ standard diameter implants for my fixed cases and Zest Anchors narrow diameter LOCATOR® Overdenture Implant System (LODI) implants for my overdenture cases.
What training have you undertaken?
After 3 years in Prosthodontics residency training, I keep my skills active by constantly challenging myself with implant dentistry courses at the American College of Prosthodontists meetings, American Academy of Implant Dentistry, and International College of Oral Implantologists.
I stay active in the teaching and training side of implant dentistry, specifically toward full arch restorative options such as Zest LOCATOR® Overdenture Implants, and Biomet 3i DIEM® 2. Through my experiences at courses, a huge amount of lateral learning occurs. I believe collaboration with other professionals, faculty members, and dental students/residents greatly enhances my learning and training.
Who has inspired you?
On a personal note, my family is my biggest inspiration. My father passed away too early while I was in college. I am constantly motivated by knowing that he is keeping an eye on me and making sure that I push myself to excel. I would not be here without the support of my wife, Melissa, who constantly inspires me to be the best that I can be.
On a professional level, I am inspired by Dr. Wayne Campagni, my mentor and friend. Dr. Campagni has constantly challenged me to think about the literature and how I justify my clinical decisions. As a truly inspiring individual who has served in several graduate director roles, I am beyond fortunate to have been able to work with Dr. Campagni.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
The best part of my practice is the resounding welcome that I received from people of Sonora and the professional community! The community has given me such a warm welcome that I feel they know that I can help the residents of Tuolumne County. As a result, I feel that this level of commitment enables me to have a long-lasting and trusting relationship with my patients.
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my board certification in Prosthodontics, an honor that is shared by only a small group within Prosthodontics. I am also very proud of my continued development of research and educational materials for implant overdenture available for dentists.
What do you think is unique about your practice?
I provide a thorough, comprehensive approach to clinical dentistry that not only focuses on complete mouth health, but also imparts a high level of trust with my patients. I want patients to walk out of their initial appointment believing that our office is on the cutting edge of diagnosis, treatment planning, and options in implant dentistry.
What has been your biggest challenge?
By far the biggest challenge has been to manage clinical, professional, and family time. I am very active within education, professional development, research, and clinical dentistry.
What would you have become if you had not become a dentist?
A marine biologist or ecologist. I spent countless hours in research in the Florida Everglades, coral reef, mangrove ecosystems, and pine forests. I love the outdoors and biological research.
What is the future of implants and dentistry?
The future is absolutely in giving full arch restorative options that are affordable, minimally invasive, and highly effective for patients. Even though the rate of edentulism has been decreasing, because of the baby boom, the amount of edentulous arches is expected to rise over the next 10 years. The future of implant dentistry will be providing treatment for these patients, and those who are better equipped for providing this treatment will be poised for success.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful practice?
The Number 1 tip is to engage with your community and to establish relationships with your patients that facilitate a high level of trust. In a small community, trust is paramount to success.
Clinically, I maintain a successful practice by providing services that are unique within my area. With the assistance of the InPlace™ marketing campaign from Zest Anchors, I have grown my implant overdenture practice significantly. Since I am able to offer LOCATOR® narrow diameter implants for my patients, I can provide minimally invasive surgical options for the older population within my community. Patients come in because I market specifically toward this treatment, and since I offer both removable and fixed full arch treatment options, many choose removable and some choose fixed, helping me continue to grow my practice.
What advice would you give to budding implantologists?
The biggest thing that I can tell young clinicians is that they need to know how to make really high-quality dentures before they launch into full arch implantology. Many dental schools are reducing pre-clinical and clinical exposure of students for removable prosthodontics, which is a slippery slope. You cannot effectively treat full arch implant patients without knowing how to make a good denture. Additionally, narrow diameter implant overdentures have been a tremendous practice growth tool, and patients are seeking out my office because we offer this solution.
What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
Education is my passion. I maintain the YouTube channels “LearnLOCATOR” and “LearnLODI” where I post informational video content for implant overdentures. I love working with other clinicians and bringing new and informative content that is challenging the traditional paradigm of implant education. During my free time, our two Shih Tsu puppies keep us very busy!