Be inspired by this PA dentist who is helping to provide a ‘lifeline’

Susan lives alone in Pennsylvania and enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren whenever she can. Unfortunately, Susan (shown above) suffers from several challenging health problems, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, joint swelling, chronic pain, and mental health issues.

The former certified nursing assistant and medical assistant is no longer work, due to her health, and relies on a modest Social Security Disability benefit to make ends meet.

When her dental health deteriorated—only nine remaining teeth and some decayed—she was not sure where to turn. Susan’s existing partial dentures no longer fit correctly and caused pain and sores in her mouth. She could not afford the treatment needed to address her dental problems. It seemed she had nowhere to turn for help.

Finding a ‘dental lifeline’

Susan was referred to the Dental Lifeline Network and its Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. There she was linked with several generous volunteers, including Benco customer and Donated Dental Services volunteer Dr. Arnold Pfannenstiel.

How did Dr. Pfannenstiel (shown above) change Susan’s life? He extracted teeth, donated root canal treatments and crowns, an implant supported upper partial denture, and a full lower denture.

“Volunteering as a dentist with DDS is very rewarding. Giving back to the community, helping people who otherwise would neglect their dental care—puts a smile on your face as well as the patients face!”

Dr. Arnold Pfannenstiel, Dental Lifeline Network • Pennsylvania Donated Dental Services Volunteer.

Earlier this year, Dental Lifeline Network hosted it third annual Every Smile Counts Day, and during the campaign raised more than $165,000 for its efforts. Among the dental suppliers and manufacturers who contributed was the Benco Family Foundation, with a commitment of $24,616.00.

“We cherish our longstanding relationship with Benco Family Foundation as you have played a significant role in our ability to provide comprehensive dentistry to the most vulnerable citizens,” said Matt Yeingst, Dental Lifeline Network, VP Development.

Want to help?

Labs and dentists are invited to volunteer with the Dental Lifeline Network’s flagship program Donated Dental Services (DDS) to change a life in their community. Gain details about volunteering.

Donor partners are needed to support comprehensive care for those who need it most. Learn how to offer financial support.

Learn more about Dental Lifeline Network

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1974, DLN nationally provides access to dental care and education for people who cannot afford it and:

  • have a permanent disability or
  • who are elderly: age 65 or older or
  • who are medically fragile

Be inspired by this PA dentist who is helping to provide a ‘lifeline’

Susan lives alone in Pennsylvania and enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren whenever she can. Unfortunately, Susan (shown above) suffers from several challenging health problems, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, joint swelling, chronic pain, and mental health issues.

The former certified nursing assistant and medical assistant is no longer work, due to her health, and relies on a modest Social Security Disability benefit to make ends meet.

When her dental health deteriorated—only nine remaining teeth and some decayed—she was not sure where to turn. Susan’s existing partial dentures no longer fit correctly and caused pain and sores in her mouth. She could not afford the treatment needed to address her dental problems. It seemed she had nowhere to turn for help.

Finding a ‘dental lifeline’

Susan was referred to the Dental Lifeline Network and its Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. There she was linked with several generous volunteers, including Benco customer and Donated Dental Services volunteer Dr. Arnold Pfannenstiel.

How did Dr. Pfannenstiel (shown above) change Susan’s life? He extracted teeth, donated root canal treatments and crowns, an implant supported upper partial denture, and a full lower denture.

“Volunteering as a dentist with DDS is very rewarding. Giving back to the community, helping people who otherwise would neglect their dental care—puts a smile on your face as well as the patients face!”

Dr. Arnold Pfannenstiel, Dental Lifeline Network • Pennsylvania Donated Dental Services Volunteer.

Earlier this year, Dental Lifeline Network hosted it third annual Every Smile Counts Day, and during the campaign raised more than $165,000 for its efforts. Among the dental suppliers and manufacturers who contributed was the Benco Family Foundation, with a commitment of $24,616.00.

“We cherish our longstanding relationship with Benco Family Foundation as you have played a significant role in our ability to provide comprehensive dentistry to the most vulnerable citizens,” said Matt Yeingst, Dental Lifeline Network, VP Development.

Want to help?

Labs and dentists are invited to volunteer with the Dental Lifeline Network’s flagship program Donated Dental Services (DDS) to change a life in their community. Gain details about volunteering.

Donor partners are needed to support comprehensive care for those who need it most. Learn how to offer financial support.

Learn more about Dental Lifeline Network

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1974, DLN nationally provides access to dental care and education for people who cannot afford it and:

  • have a permanent disability or
  • who are elderly: age 65 or older or
  • who are medically fragile

Chilly temps and even cooler dental innovations

The nation’s largest family-owned dental distributor strives to make it simple to stay up to date with the latest equipment and technology. 

Benco Dental is driving dentistry forward with the newest and coolest technology doctors need in the form of its Six Neat Things promotion.

Z-Vac cleans and deodorizes systems and equipment.

While it’s cleaning and deodorizing, the Benco Brands Z-Vac concentrated Evacuation System Cleaner offers a neutral pH and leaves equipment smelling great with a fresh lemon fragrance. 

The Z-Vac Concentrated Evacuation System Cleaner from Benco Dental.

Used for cleaning and deodorizing systems and equipment, Z-Vac is compatible with amalgam separators and dissolves and destroys a wide range of dental debris. 

Among Z-Vac benefits: 

  • Non-foaming 
  • Biodegradable 
  • Premeasured bottle 

For more information on Benco Brands’ Z-Vac, click here.

Offer your patients affordable dentures with Nuvoflex’s Easy Denture 

With over 60 million people in the United States living life without even a single tooth in their mouth, Easy Denture can help provide full and bright smiles. 

Nuvoflex Easy Denture.

Once Easy Denture is in the patient’s hands, all he or she needs to do is follow simple steps: 

  • Place the denture in boiling water for 60 seconds 
  • Allow it to cool for 60 seconds
  • Fit it to the mouth shape
  • Create a tight suction by closing mouth and using a thumb to press against the top of the denture while sucking in.

Easy Denture costs a few hundreds of dollars in comparison to thousands of dollars for traditional dentures. 

Click here for more information on Nuvoflex’s Easy Denture.

Healthier gums? Look to Oral B GENIUS X Professional Exclusive and Oral B App

With the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence, the new Oral B GENIUS X provides real-time feedback to ensure best results from brushing.

Accessories offered with Oral B’s GENIUS X.

The power brush comes equipped with a timer to ensure that teeth are being brushed for a full two minutes as opposed to the 30-60 seconds that people brush on average.

GENIUS X benefits: 

  • Triple pressure control 
    • Reinforces gentle brushing 
  • Position detection 
    • Allows every zone to be targeted 
  • Customizable options with up to 12 different colors.

For more information on the Oral B GENIUS X, click here.

Enhance the protection, comfort of patients and staff with Provision New Safety Eyewear. 

The latest protective eyewear from Palmero offers everything from full-face shields and goggles to laser safety and bonding glasses. Every product offers comfort and affordability. 

Goggles offered in Palmero’s Provision New Safety Eyewear.

The Palmero Provision New Eyewear meets the 4 Cs of Safety Eyewear:

  • Certified – meets industry standards 
  • Clarity – high excellent optics with anti-fog and scratch resistance 
  • Comfort – ranges of frames, temple and nose bridge options to make the best fit 
  • Compliance – providing safety eyewear for everyone every day

Learn more about Palmero’s Provision New Safety Eyewear here.

Stay up to date with LED technology and Spring Health Product’s The CURE.

The CURE is the smallest, most powerful and durable LED curing light; now it features a wider lens. 

The CURE from Spring Health Products.

The LED has four diodes in the tip to provide a six-second cure at a wavelength capable of polymerizing most light-cured dental materials, even through porcelain. 

The CURE benefits: 

  • Lightweight (1.7 oz)
  • Slim, ergonomic design 
  • Durable, scratch resistant 
  • 11 mm lens
  • Easy disinfection 

The flat-back head and low-profile design ensure easy access to all areas of the mouth and the front and back power buttons allow for easy operations.

For more information on Spring Health Product’s The CURE, click here.

Use the Voco Traypurol Tabs to clean impression trays, instruments and more. 

Voco Traypurol tabs are simple to dose and use. Unlike traditional cleaning powders, the tabs automatically and completely dissolve in water. 

The Traypurol Tabs from Voco.

The Voco Traypurol Tabs:

  • Dissolve alginates and cements in a short amount of time
  • Are bio-degradable and pH-neutral 
  • Use gentle material – suitable for all rustproof metals and plastics

The solution is effective for up to 72 hours and doesn’t require the use of an ultrasonic cleaner. 

Click here to learn more about the Voco Traypurol Tabs.

Dentistry Hack: Save time and money with GantGuard

You have a full schedule, complete with many precautions taken to ensure a sterile environment for your patients. Do you wish for an innovative way to save time?

Some of your equipment, like scalers and burnishers, need to be sanitized following CDC or ADA guidelines to prevent cross contamination, but not all supplies need such extensive care. For example, if to save time and money, one option is a disposable alternative like the American-made GantGuard Self Adhesive Bib.

GantGuard no-clip, non-toxic bib in blue.

Great Coverage and No Clips

The GantGuard Bib is the only one without tabs or bib holders, so there’s no need to attach those costly alligator clips. Unlike cloth, paper or plastic bibs, GantGuard protects the patient’s clothing and shoulders while eliminating cross contamination.

A study performed by Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the Forsyth Institute found that procedural sanitation of dental bib clips might not sterilize clips completely. They analyzed 20 clips and found that 40 percent of the clips retained aerobic bacteria, and three of the clips had anaerobic streptococcus, a highly contagious bacteria.

With GantGuard Bibs, there is no risk of cross-contamination. Simply use and dispose.

GantGuard Bibs can be stored in a dispenser just like a roll of paper towels, allowing for convenient, quick use.

Save Time, Space & Money

Save time by eliminating the need to tie a bib. The GantGuard Bib simply attaches with a non-toxic adhesive, so no need to fiddle with knots or clips.

Save space by storing GantGuard in one of two ways:
* in self-feeding portable dispenser box
* in a wall mount paper towel dispenser (talk about convenient!)

Save money by eliminating the need for laundry services. Also, by no longer needed to sterilize alligator clips and chains, you save time and money. Focus on more important tasks, like building relationships with your patients.

Ready to give GantGuard Bibs a try?

The GantGuard Bib, which can save time, money and space at your practice, is available in four styles:

  • GantGuard Signature Dental
  • GantGuard Surgical
  • GantGuard Pediatric
  • GantGuard Classic

Order today or contact your Friendly Benco Rep to learn more at 1.800.GOBENCO.

3 Steps to Increase Your Production—Now!

Increasing production is much easier than most dentists think. The reason it doesn’t happen continually is that most dentist don’t stay focused on it. When you’re happy with your income, lifestyle, and savings you may not put a whole lot of time into improving practice production performance. People who are comfortable in this way tend to, as they say, “take their foot off the gas.” But you shouldn’t.

Increasing production is the mainstay of any business and it requires constant attention. If production doesn’t go up, profit won’t go up either. Dentistry has more competitive factors than ever before, so every practice must be focused on growing its production by either small amounts or to hit larger goals. Growth is always a best defense against a decline.

Here are three powerful steps you should consider if you want to increase production quickly:

  1. Diagnose periodontal disease.  Practices that are not diagnosing periodontal disease lose tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in initial therapy services. Adding the diagnosis and treatment of basic periodontal services for patients is like adding a brand or service to the practice.
  • Schedule all patients. Many practices have only 80 – 85% of their patients scheduled. Think about how much production is lost through the 15-20% of unscheduled patients every year. That’s why you should set the goal of scheduling 98% of patients at all times. In fact, 93% of them should be scheduled before they walk out of the office. The other 7% can be scheduled using a nine-week follow up system powered by effective scripting. Keeping patients scheduled in this way is the smartest way to keep patients bonded and loyal to the practice.
  • Give hygienists more control. Hygienist should be trained to identify all potential treatment, educate patients about treatment, and motivate the patient to have treatment.   They should also be encouraged to go over fees and close the case.  Don’t panic—the doctor should still be the final decision-maker to review all findings. However, because the hygienist has much more time to talk to patients and explain findings and recommendations, they have more opportunities to close cases than the dentist, who is rushed and typically spends less than five minutes on hygiene checks. Keep in mind that that hygienist should make the effort to follow up on all unaccepted treatment. Many practices have a “one-and-done” type of mentality. If the patient doesn’t accept treatment that’s it—nothing can be done, and nobody ever mentions it again. However, when you do check in with patients again, they’re often still interested.

By implementing the tactics above almost any practice can grow production—by a lot. It’s only a matter of having the desire, the strategies, and putting them in place.

About the blogger

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.

To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com. 

From East to West: Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad exemplifies determination #IE40Under40

What would you do to protect your family in a country plagued by war, poverty, labor camps and the very real possibility of execution? Would you escape?

That’s what Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad’s parents did to flee post-war Vietnam, although it wasn’t as easy as hopping on a plane. In fact, the government declared leaving the country illegal.

“We were so poor, and living in that state of poverty was no way to live. We didn’t have much food. My parents’ jobs didn’t provide for a hopeful future for our family.”

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad said, recalling the stories her parents told of Vietnam.

The only way many Vietnamese people could escape communist oppression was by boat, a risky attempt some refugees did not survive. Those who were brave enough to flee, an estimated 1.5 million of them from 1975 to 1995, were known as “Boat People.”

This is the same type of boat Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad and her family spent 38 days in as they drifted in the South China Sea. (Photo Courtesy Dr. Tori-Thuy Conrad)

In 1980, when Dr. Conrad was just six weeks old, she and her family boarded her father’s fishing boat, a vessel not designed for the open ocean, and were joined by seven other siblings and cousins.

They sailed into the South China Sea from Hue City, not knowing where, when and if they would make landfall. They sailed for days, weeks, over a month, not knowing where the tides would take them.

“We spent over 38 days at sea without a definitive destination. We arrived at a refugee camp in Hong Kong, where we resided for months until we were brought to a brighter future by the sponsorship of a United States family.”

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad, recalling the stories her parents told of Vietnam.
Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad, held by her mother. Her brother and father to the right. Photo taken shortly after their arrival in the U.S. (Photo Courtesy Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad.)

Dr. Conrad ended up in Denver, Colorado, a stark difference from the tropical climate of central Vietnam, and began to live an American life.

Finding her dentistry destiny

Dr. Conrad attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry, but the atomic mass of atoms was not all she found. She also met her husband there, and a burning desire to help people.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be in the health care field, helping others heal through medicine, especially children.”

After graduation from Coe, she moved to Minneapolis to study dental hygiene at the University of Minnesota, but she wanted more, and continued her education to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

Today, the 2019 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 honoree owns and practices at Tweet Pediatric Dentistry in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and is a mom of three. She juggles the responsibilities of a full-time dentist and a mother, an act that has its challenges.

“I think the most challenging aspects of dentistry is not the dentistry, it’s running a business. I had to learn as I went along and made a lot of mistakes. My mentors have guided me along the way.”

Although it’s difficult to run a business, Dr. Conrad loves her patients. She believes she makes a difference in their lives, and they return the favor to her.

“I am so grateful I get to do this and make such a difference in these children’s lives. The high-fives and hugs that I’m left with when my little patients leave their appointments leave me beaming with happiness.”

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad

When not in her operatory, Dr. Conrad is in the kitchen experimenting. She loves to cook for her family — and with them. Her favorite cuisine is Italian, without the pasta. She likes to stray from her cookbooks and allow her creativity to take over.

“I love using the fresh herbs and flavors, and pairing them with more proteins and vegetables in place of pasta. I try to create dishes without a recipe. I find it most rewarding when I have someone who eats my creation and provides raving remarks on a recipe that does not exist. It’s the best compliment.”

Dr. Conrad’s dreams never end. She wants to improve her culinary skills and one day compete on the Food Network show Chopped, a challenging competition where three chefs battle for supremacy. She also wishes to pilot a plane.

With many years of dentistry behind her, she has advice for those who dream to be who she is—a successful, practicing dentist.

“Utilize all resources and mentors out there. There are so many people willing to lend advice, reach out often and be willing to extend the same as you gain experience and knowledge. I give many thanks to my mentors for helping me reach my dreams, but also to alleviate and get me through the challenges I face.”

If anyone doubts their dreams, they need to speak with Dr. Conrad, whose tenacity and motivation is the stuff of inspiration.

Learn more about Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad and the #IE40Under40 experience.
Nominate an inspirational dentist at Incisal Edge today.

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad (front left) during the 2019 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 photo session in NYC. (Photo courtesy Incisal Edge/Macrae Marran)

Striving for vs. attaining perfection. Where do you fit in?

Dentistry in one of the few fields of study where what we create, as practitioners, is physical in nature. As a result of that, it’s easy for us to compare the fruits of our labor to photographs found in textbooks or ones referenced on the lecture circuit. All too often we lose sight of the fact that we work in a very unforgiving environment of a human mouth. We try to recreate the ‘Taj Mahal‘ of crowns in patients who are fearful, who wiggle and dance in the chair, who cough and spit during procedures, and who are constricted by finances. Furthermore, our fairy tale mouth rehabs are limited to an hour of chair time and are constantly interrupted by hygiene check, patient messages and the occasional compressor mishaps.

This idea of seeking perfection isn’t an instinct, but is rather self-taught and further reinforced by our educational background and consequently our practice. Growing into a relationship with what is perceived as perfect we suffer both physically – as we hunch overtime in tedious practice and emotionally – in lacking self acceptance and resorting to self deprication). And as we fail to produce the textbook endo, each and every time, we are unable to forgive ourselves and often forget that we, too, are human. We struggle with wanting to be perfect when we should realize we are just good enough being perfectly imperfect. As far as the quality of work is concerned: striving for perfection and attaining perfection are two very different things. In understanding and separating them, we can find more peace in our mind and satisfaction in our work.

How does it all begin?

As early as high school we begin in our pursuit of numbers. In those numbers we develop an anchor. We start chasing that ‘the high score.’ .This doesn’t necessarily pertain to everyone, there are some very talented people out there to whom this won’t apply to; but I’d estimate that most of us, who have the seed in ourselves to seek higher education, any kind of graduate study, will end up making ourselves vulnerable to numbers.

In its infancy this relationship with numbers is fairly underdeveloped and as inexperienced and vulnerable students that’s when it’s initiated. At first it’s very unassuming. Higher grades in high school tend be received with much less study, than in college or professional school.  As we keep those grades high, we gather the attention, and dare I say respect, of our parents, teachers and classmates. In time, chasing the A, becomes like a casino machine payout. Get an A: ding! ding! ding! And so, we keep chasing the payout. The other thing that begins during these formative years is a quest to be the number one, and looking at our peers as our fierce competition.


The ease of high scores settles a bit in college. It’s a larger pool of thinking minds, chasing that same A. But as our plans toward graduate school sharpen, so must our grades. And once again: we chase the A, the DAT score, the ranking. Ding, Ding, Ding, goes the payout. Like an addiction. The anchor is established even deeper. And as before we continue to compete. Upon college graduation, having been habitually graded, we become comfortable with our anchor number. And this in turn, ends up tying to our self worth. It becomes automatic on our minds: high score produces a good day, it increases our self worth and a low score can lead to self loathing. 

Maggie W. Augustyn, D.D.S.


Each one of us comes up with a sort of scale of what that lucky  anchor number. Is it a 3.5 GPA or 3.9 GPA? The higher the number with which we have this relationship, the more intense the pressure. And this goes on all the way thru dental school, who knows maybe even post grad. As does the peer rivalry. Our self esteem is at its peak as we gain that acceptance to dental school. That’s the we hear the biggest Ding! of all.

Once in dental school we may crash a bit. We are no longer that 5%, 10%, maybe not even top 25%. Now, we are all pretty much the same. Similar GPA, test scores, extracurriculars. Nothing to make us extraordinary.  The Ding’s don’t come as often. Of course, as with everything, there are outliers, but most of us, are just average, smack down in the middle of the bell curve. And now what: does the occasional C, or mostly Bs cloud our self worth? No, we are forced to find a different type of anchor; we begin to tie our self worth to what we perceive to be the quality of our dentistry. 

Remember that we have been chasing a number on a grading scale, we have tied our self worth to some anchor; we have tied our self worth to the act of being graded; And now comes the translation which starts with our preps being graded. Our endos being graded. But not just that, we can see the tangible prep, its inclination, the uniform margins, the fill to the apex, or past the apex; and we start to grade ourselves. Sometimes, we repeat in our minds what even our toughest critics wouldn’t dare to say. A dry socket can make us feel like a failure. A dry socket can make the patient look at us as a failure. None of this is true! We replace the number grading system to which we tied our self worth to, with an anchor of biased self evaluation of the quality of our work. 


How do you overcome it? How do you balance the scales?

We can ask ourselves: Can we do better? Can we produce more ideal dentistry, to increase the highs and eliminate the lows? Can we work harder at being perfect? It’s a simple answer, and the answer is: no. I think all of us do the best that we can, with the skill set that we have, with the procedures and materials, with the flow of the practice and with the quirky environment of the oral cavity. We care about our patients and we care about our reputation. So to say, that if we just became better dentists, our lows would be eliminated is unrealistic and erroneous and quite frankly impossible. It’s impossible to attain perfection, each and every time, maybe even ever.

Overcoming the desire to attain perfection: A how-to

First and foremost we must accept that we are perfectly imperfect. We must stop using our short crown margins and endo underfills as the definition for our self esteem. But how? As trivial as it may seem, allow me to restate: we must forgive ourselves for the imperfect. Not walk away from it, but simply forgive, and build on it. We tried our best, we may not have attained that grade-A endo fill, and we forgive ourselves. Or maybe, look at it this way, we give ourselves permission to be imperfect. Please understand that imperfect doesn’t translate into sloppy dentistry, nor is it substandard care.

Imperfect is simply what it states: not perfect, or at least not perfect each and every time. “I have permission to do the best I can, and still come short of what is ideal.” And as we have that permission, we also piggyback the fact that we have room to improve in the current clinical situation and in the future. If the endo fill isn’t ideal, we can redo it, or we can refer out to a specialist. We can choose more continuing education, which may lead to ease of practice. But in truth, neither a referral to an endodontist, nor an 8- hour course in the use of microscope will produce perfection every time. Accepting the idea of imperfection will keep us grounded. And in time will add humility. Because aren’t we just a bit arrogant to expect that every treatment we render be textbook worthy?

We must define and recognize our weakness.

We can’t turn weakness into a strength if we keep denying our weakness. A weakness can be a learning experience. But more so, we also can’t forget that imperfection isn’t a weakness, it isn’t even a characteristic… it’s an unavoidable reality. We have to acknowledge when we are being self critical and recognize that every emotion, serves a purpose; negative feelings are simply a way of receiving information. Having recognized a negative experience we give ourselves permission to be upset and to be regretful. And that’s how we stop it from becoming an exercise in self loathing. This entire exercise will lead to forgiving ourselves our shortcomings. When we are unable to forgive ourselves that’s when we forget that we too are human.

Another practice to follow is to make a commitment to celebrate! celebrate! celebrate! our strengths. If necessary, take a minute each day and write down what is celebration worthy. When receiving a complement, take the time to marinade in it. Really, take a nominal 90 seconds and allow yourself to just be present. Let it seep in. Let it sink in. Stay mindful of it as much as you can all day.

Now, if none of those are working and if we are still really having a hard time with guilt or shame or other negative emotion: writing a note of apology to self can be very helpful.

And last, if your self critical nature is disallowing you from a mindful living, if your self loathing prevails, seek the help of a professional. 

About the blogger

Maggie W. Augustyn, D.D.S. is a practicing dentist with over 15 years of experience. She graduated from Benedictine University as a University Scholar and pursued her education towards a dental degree at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a co-owner of Happy Tooth, a private practice in Elmhurst Illinois. She resides in Lombard Illinois with her husband and daughter. Contact her at dr_augustyn@yahoo.com

“Each day I try to be a better person than I was yesterday. The most rewarding part of life is cultivating and maintaining relationships, but more importantly helping one another navigate the turbulent times of our existence.   My mantra is ‘Life Is Good’, even if you have to shift your focus and look for it, with the right skills and attitude life is nothing short of being an amazing gift.”  

Where can you get smiles like these? Try Pittsburgh. #countdowntoHalloween

If you want to see some transformational teeth, Jordan Patton suggests any number of the mutation scenes in John Carpenter’s The Thing.  

“The majority of those creatures just had such interesting anatomy choices, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Another great one is the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London! There were so many different dentures used through each stage of the transformation each one getting more and more intense.”

Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center

If Patton sounds like he’s got insight on the subject, it’s not just because those Rick Baker creations are among his favorite dentition-related scenes in film. The artist dedicates his talents as a Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center, just outside of Pittstburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jordan Patton during a painting demo for a graduation class portfolio at Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program before he became an instructor at the school.

Realism is vital in these projects, says Patton, who in 2018 was featured on SYFY’s FaceOff, a competition/elimination series in which special effects make-up artists participate in elaborate challenges for a grand prize and the honor of being Hollywood’s next great effects artist.

“Some of the biggest challenges to achieving a realistic look comes from subtle detailing that most wouldn’t think to pay attention to. If you want to achieve realism, you have to replicate every little detail to create the illusion of life inside your piece, down to broken capillaries, veining, pores, body hair, gloss finish versus matte finish.”

Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center

The freelance sculptor, mask maker, and special effects artist explains some of the curriculum at the school. Before students begin working on major projects, they learn the fundamentals of anatomy.

“We start with a basic human anatomy class. We also stress the importance of anatomy in all of our base sculpture courses, as well as all of our prosthetic makeup classes, because anatomical knowledge is one of the main keys to being able to create a believable makeup.”

Photos courtesy Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program at Douglas Education Center.

Like Patton, graduates of Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center move on to successful careers, some where the teeth aren’t designed to, well, terrify. Like dental labs.

“Our first introduction to dental labs as a viable employment option for special makeup effects graduates occurred when many years ago one of our graduates obtained a job in a local dental lab. This graduate realized that the skills he learned at DEC could be applied in a different industry and he was very excited to share that revelation with the Career Services office. By engaging with current students via Mock Interviews and classroom presentations, we were able to present a different career path option to upcoming graduates.”

Dana Melvin, Career Services Department at Douglas Education Center

“In addition to dental labs, our graduates move on to develop successful careers in the film industry, theaters, special effects and prop-making shops, medical prosthetics labs, theme parks, set design, toy making, professional makeup artistry, and much more.

Amanda Smith, a graduate of Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor works today as a CAD CAM Production Manager at a dental lab in Pittsburgh. Seven years ago, she was hired for her artistic ability. Here she explains her role.

Back at the school, Patton shares some of the techniques that help students advance in their fields.

“Here we teach a digital sculpting program called Z-Brush that gives the students an introduction into the 3D modeling world and how to utilize those tools, as well as the knowledge of how to work with different file types. Both will be helpful tools to utilize with the ever-advancing world of dental prosthetics.” 

He also explains the evolution in the field, using prosthetic dentures as an example.

“While some prefer to stick with the techniques of sculpting in clay on a stone positive and making molds of that, others might be more inclined to go a more digital route by utilizing 3D modeling programs, as well as 3D printing.”

Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center

Haven’t got your fill of special effects as related to dentistry yet? See a few more examples of student creations at Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center, shown below.

Learn more:

About Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program at Douglas Education Center: https://www.dec.edu/

About Jordan Patton: https://twitter.com/jpattonfx

Candy invented by a dentist? #countdowntoHalloween

Antque_cotton_candy_eatingWould you believe that a dentist invented that favorite sugary food of the local fair: cotton candy? It’s true! A dentist named William Morrison created it in 1897 with help from candy maker John C. Warton.

Originally called “Fairy Floss,” Dr. Morrison and Mr. Warton debuted their concoction at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where it cost 25 cents. Today, that doesn’t sound like much for one of our favorite sugary treats, but in 1904, that was half the price of a ticket to enter the fair. Even though it was expensive, many people were intrigued by the spun sugar confection and more than 68,000 boxes were sold!

The early cotton candy machines were unreliable and often broke down. In 1949, Gold Medal Products of Cincinnati, Ohio, introduced a spring base for the machines that improved them. Today, Gold Medal Products manufactures almost all cotton candy machines.

While Morrison and Warton called their product “Fairy Floss,” I’m not sure the name was ever patented. In 1921 another dentist, Joseph Lascaux, improved on the earlier machine and patented the name “Cotton Candy,”  by which the confection is known today in America.

Antique_candy_bookWhile most dentists these days will tell you to stay away from sugar, cotton candy has less than other treats, simply because it’s mostly air. So, if you have the choice between cotton candy, funnel cakes, or deep fried Oreos at the next fair you attend, go for the cotton candy. Just be sure to brush your teeth when you get home, preferably with a toothbrush purchased from Benco Dental.

About the blogger

Guest blogger Jenn Ochman, Database Publishing Production Specialist in the Branding and Communication Department at Benco Dental, dedicates her time outside work to historical reenactment. She shares knowledge of dental history with TheDailyFloss.com readers on a monthly basis.

Help make healthy smiles possible on 11.02.19

In just a few days, an annual event hosted by the Global Smile Foundation will dedicate its proceeds to making life-changing cleft lip/palate surgeries possible.

On November 2, the Celebration for Smiles will raise funds to support upcoming medical missions by Global Smile. Purchase tickets here: https://www.myrollcall.com/app/#/org/view/4217 or at the door on Saturday in Randolph, Massachusetts.

Can’t attend? Opportunities to volunteer, donate and sponsor are available at: https://gsmile.org/gala-event/

During a recent mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Global Smile Foundation dental team performed 266 dental procedures, including one on Matias, shown below. Global Smile Foundation (GSF) volunteers have been involved with outreach cleft programs in Guayaquil for the past 32 years. GSF has become the largest provider of cleft care in the country and works closely with el Gobierno del Guayas, Hospital León Becerra, Fundación Global Smile-Ecuador, and the local medical community.

When the Global Smile team evaluated Matias in 2018, he was too malnourished to undergo surgery.. Thanks to donations from several supporters, including Global Smile Foundation Board Member RG Conlee, Matias received the baby formula he needed to grow and our team was able to perform his cleft lip repair this year. He is shown at Hospital León Becerra de Guayaquil.

“As we reflect on our 11-year anniversary, we are able to see how far we have come as a foundation, bringing together the experience & dedication of our volunteers for over 32 years! Join us in celebrating this important milestone & mark your calendars for November 2, 2019!”

Global Smile Foundation commented on Instagram

According to their website, Global Smile Foundation (GSF) is dedicated to “making first-class cleft care accessible to all patients regardless of geographic or socioeconomic barriers. There is a pressing need for sustainable cleft care in developing countries where the consequences of those conditions are devastating, if left untreated.” They explain some scenarios that exist:

  • Fathers often leave the family, believing their child or their marriage, has been cursed; parents will abandon their infant in the hospital, unable to cope with the future the child will face.
  • Children with cleft are generally ostracized from society, unable to go to school or make friends.
  • As adults, patients with cleft lips or palates have little chance of making a living.
  • Most patients keep from one to five family members home caring for them, rather than earning wages to support the household.

Want to learn how you can help?

Learn more about the organization: https://gsmile.org/