Dentist, composer, motorcyclist: How one grandmother’s pioneering spirit lives on through her Sol.

Dr. Margarida de Souza Menezes de Figueiredo, shown, the only woman in her dental class in 1928, and the first female dentist in the Brazilian city of Recife Pernambuco, earned recognition later in life for her work as a composer and musician.

During Sol Figueiredo’s first visit to a dental museum tucked in the mountains of Pennsylvania, she did not expect to be overcome with emotion.

When the Brazilian interior designer and architect walked past a dental operatory representing the 1900-1940 era, her eyes filled with tears.



Sol Figueiredo reminisces over dental instruments similar to those used by her grandmother, who in 1928 was the first female in her Brazilian city to earn a dental degree. (Eric Larsen/ Benco Dental)

Sol Figueiredo, who recently joined the CenterPoint Design staff of Benco Dental at its Orange County, California location, stopped in her tracks on a tour of the company’s home office in Pittston, Pa.

What caught her eye? Dental instruments similar to those used by her grandmother nearly 90 years ago in Brazil.

Dr. Margarida de Souza Menezes de Figueiredo was the only female dentist in her graduating class in 1928, and the first female dentist in the Brazilian city of Recife Pernambuco.

“I feel so close to her,” said Sol Figueiredo, of her paternal grandmother.

“She graduated in 1928 from dental school, and I’m in her world. It is so inspiring.”

Sol noted that her grandmother (shown above), in addition to establishing a dental practice and raising three children with her husband, earned national recognition in Brazil as a musician and composer.

“In 1954, she won a competition and her music was featured on the radio. During an interview they asked her how a woman in her time could be a dentist, a composer, drive a motorcycle?”


Dr. Margarida de Souza Menezes de Figueiredo, center, is interviewed in 1954 by RÁDIO NACIONAL for her work as a composer and musician. (Courtesy Sol Figueiredo)

Sol explained, “If there was something in her way, it wasn’t a problem, because she was very focused. She didn’t care what people said about her. She just lived her life intensely.”

Though Dr. Margarida died 12 years ago at the age of 98, Sol recalls the vibrancy with which her grandmother lived even in later years, when she resided with Sol’s parents and siblings in their home.

At age 18, Sol admired her 88-year-old grandmother’s zest for life.

“She was always singing,  reciting poems and telling people stories. It’s something that never leaves my mind: She never felt old.”

Mirroring that energy,  Sol, by age 28, had earned degrees in architecture and interior design from the Instituto Medotista Bennett College, collaborated with noted architects Andrea Chicharo and the late Eduardo Pinho, and established a successful design firm in Rio de Janeiro: Sol Figueiredo Interiors.


Dr. Margarida de Souza Menezes de Figueiredo, in 1928, aa she earns her degree in dentistry.

She relocated to the United States in 2005, where she met her husband Blue Michael Plante. They live today today in Corona, California with their daughter Yasmin, 5.

After her departure from Brazil, Sol took heart when her father, Fernando Antonio Menezes de Figueiredo, told her, “You’re like my mom, you’re not afraid to go away to learn.”

Sol explained,”I’m the first generation of my family in America,”

In her new position with Benco Dental’s CenterPoint Design team, Sol said she finds a unique opportunity to channel the legacy of her grandmother, Dr. Margarida de Souza Menezes.

“I’m proud that I’m going to be working in her field. I just think, ‘If she was alive today and young, what would she would be capable of doing?'”


Dr. Margarida de Souza Menezes de Figueiredo the only woman in her dental class (shown), and the first female dentist in the Brazilian city of Recife Pernambuco.


Meet some of the newest clientele for one Texas dental assistant.

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) teeth, Brazos Bend state park, Needville, Texas, USA.


When Christy Kroboth worked as a dental assistant in south Texas, she still carved out time outside of the office for side pursuits.

As a lifelong animal lover she found herself drawn to looking out for the little ones – stray dogs, turtles, cats. Her dedication of time to her efforts grew in proportion to the size of the animals in harm’s way: alligators.

According to an interview with BBC News, where Kroboth  lives, alligators take up residence in the man-made ponds of master-plan communities. They’re not necessarily welcomed guests, and Kroboth decided to help “change people’s mindset” by becoming an alligator catcher.

“I registered to be an alligator hunter with Texas Parks and Wildlife and we had to go through a whole training course. I was the only girl in the class, and also the youngest….

I’d never even touched an alligator before and for a split second I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ …I ran out to the pond, got the alligator, taped him up and ended up passing the test. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and that adrenaline rush lasted the whole day.”
Read Kroboth’s full story at and hear more about her adventures. She told BBC NEWS:

“When I first got my license I was only doing this as a hobby, I’d go to work as a dental assistant and catch my alligators on the side. But I got well-known for taking the alligators alive, and I’m now doing this as my full time job.”


Stop drooling, Monopoly. Face facts: Cheek retractor games acquire prime real estate.


Watch Ya’ Mouth. Speak Out!speakout-large_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqopwlct4cfczrqrbbf9zazcku-nb9emmzlsitsj8ofcq

So say some of the most sought after interactive games of the season, according to51812560 and The Telegraph.

The challenge: A player states nonsensical phrases while wearing a cheek retractor, and his or her teammates attempt to interpret.

shutterstock_238278919Is it any surprise that a competition featuring spit, drool and slobber soared past the tuxedo-clad real estate mogul of Monopoly?  (Flashback to the last flavor of the month, Pie Face.)

In 2016, cheek retractor games by any name made leaps in popularity over other games, selling out in retail stores and online, after being touted on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier in the year, reported  in her story for the Australian news source.

However, months before Ellen, nighttime talk show host James Corden spotlighted similar hijinx on CBS Late Late Show, and early adopters in the dental community were hot on his heels:

Finding it impossible to finesse one of the famous maker versions? Fear not.  Create a lineup of s- and p-laden phrases, place an online order for  Extraoral Cheek Retractors and hilarity ensues.

Dentists as new millennium entertainment trendsetters?
Did you expect anything less from the profession that invented laughing gas in the early 19th century?


How a Dental Circus shaped today’s dentistry.


While you’re coordinating your calendar for 2017 and planning your April 27 visit to the The Lucy Hobbs Project 5th Annual Celebration in Philadelphia, clear an extra day or two to enjoy a city of firsts.

One historical stop: the Kornberg School of Dentistry’s Historical Dental Museum Collection at Temple University.

According to the museum site, it’s possible to  “trace the beginnings of dentistry in America through three generations of dentists from Josiah Flagg’s Revolutionary War-era practice to his grandson J. Foster Flagg, who in 1863 was one of the founders and a member of the faculty of the Philadelphia Dental College, the second oldest dental college in the country, which merged with Temple in 1907.”

Alongside the recreation of a nineteenth-century Victorian dental office,  dental equipment displays, and the personal possessions of former dental school students, faculty, and alumni, you’ll find evidence of one dental, ahem, showstopper: Painless Parker and his Dental Circus.

Grisly artifacts of this early 1900s charlatan include a tooth necklace and advertisements he used to generate business. aptly describe Parker (who legally changed his name from Edgar Randolph to “Painless” in 1915):

“Donning a top hat, coattails and a necklace he made out of teeth (supposedly the 357 teeth he pulled in one day), he partnered with William Beebe, a former employee of P.T. Barnum, to create a traveling dental circus in 1913. ”

Read more:

The college’s current dean, Dr. Amid Ismail, told that Parker “was a terrible student and only graduated because he pleaded with his dean to pass him.”

If there’s wisdom to be gained from past foibles, Parker’s practices seem a great place to begin:

1. ETHICS: “Parker’s most indisputable legacy to the field of dentistry is his contribution, through his bad acts, charlatanism and relentless pursuit of profits, to the development of professional ethics in dentistry,” Temple University Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry Dr. Amid Ismail told

2. SCIENCE: “Scientific evidence must remain the foundation of clinical care in any health field. Otherwise we will be victims to modern charlatans,” said Dr. Ismail.

3. MARKETING:  Though his messaging was less than truthful, Parker became the first dentist to openly advertise a dental practice. His success later allowed him to open a chain of clinics.

Read the history of this huckster and his “traveling caravan” at:

Plan your walk through history at the Kornberg School of Dentistry’s Historical Dental Museum Collection at Temple University:

Save the Date for The Lucy Hobbs Project 5th Annual Celebration in Philadelphia:


Candy canes as decorations vs. snacks.


Sugar-free peppermint gum might be a safer bet if you’re longing to savor the holiday flavor, but want to avoid chipped or broken teeth.

Recently, The Daily Meal’s Michael Serrur queried dental professionals across the country (nine, to be exact) as to which holiday foods and beverages they will not partake.

Among the experts, Bill Crutchfield, D.D.S. from OBC in Chantilly, Virginia, who weighed in on candy canes.

“These iconic holiday treats are better left as a Christmas tree decoration. Candy canes and other hard candies are notoriously bad for teeth because they are packed with sugar and can also cause chipped or broken teeth, Dr. Bill Crutchfield warns.”

Want to avoid the holiday “triple threat” among other tooth tormentors? Read the full story at :