Jeffrey J. Taylor
313 Main Street N.E.
P.O. Box 307
Mapleton, MN 56065-0307
Mankato Welcomes First-Ever Minnesota Mission of Mercy
It’s a fact: The newspaper in Mankato reported that folks began to arrive to wait in line for the Minnesota Mission of Mercy (MnMOM) event Wednesday night in anticipation of being seen early Friday morning.
I was there, and can report: There were a number of local legislators who visited, most often in the company of MDA officials or staff. Hope they are still thinking about it. I was interviewed by a newspaper reporter. Fortunately, our MDA president was standing just a few feet away, and I had the presence of mind to direct the reporter to Zak (Dr. Michael Zakula). Dr. Zakula’s comments regarding unmet dental needs in Minnesota were, well, incisive, and were accurately quoted in the newspaper. It may be appropriate to coin a new word to describe a new, dauntingly large, and overwhelmingly successful undertaking in honor of our fearless leader: “Zakulean”.
It was notably humbling to observe the efforts of so many MDA members doing their utmost to make the MnMOM event work and be relevant. We were also blessed with participation by colleagues from all around the country. Many of these folks had multiple prior experiences at MOM events, so their input for the “first-timers” was invaluable. Additionally, praise is due to the MDA staff for their “above and beyond” contributions to the initial MnMOM — most especially to Shelly Conlin, MnMOM Project Coordinator. All those involved with the Minnesota Dental Foundation (MDF) should be recognized, as should the dental supply firms and the dental lab technicians who volunteered materials and dental appliances. The City of Mankato, area businesses, and local “civilian” volunteers were essential in the success of the MnMOM. Sincere thanks is owed to those who contributed funding. Kudos to Tom Smyth and all other local coordinators. Lastly, a “champion” for the MnMOM should be recognized: Dr. Alejandro Aguirre, for his steadfast dedication and optimistic presentations to the MDA membership that the MnMOM event was do-able and would be successful.
It was my privilege to serve Friday and Saturday under the exceptionally capable leadership of Christine Hermanson in the removable prosthodontics section. Furthermore, a greatly appreciated benefit was the presence and counsel of prosthodontic specialists including, among others, David Clay and Joy Lua, and also that of my esteemed classmate, Wayne Christiansen of Moorhead.
The dental assistant volunteers were excellent (though low in numbers), so I mostly served to set up and prep for my more capable colleagues. The prosth section was mainly involved with impressions and delivery of immediate temporary removable partial dentures (aptly referred to as “flippers”). Though VPS impression materials were available, a great number of impressions had to be obtained with manually mixed alginate, as many patients arrived directly from the oral surgery section with very fresh extraction sites. Regardless of conditions and time constraints, the team performed admirably in quality of impressions delivery, and adjustments. It was truly rewarding to view the patients’ reactions and grateful smiles when appliances were delivered.
Granted, the MnMOM event is not the solution to the myriad of barriers to dental care in Minnesota. The coordinators were resolute in their explanations to the media, legislators, and the public about the need to seriously reconfigure public dental programs to better meet the challenges faced by dental patients and dental professionals in Minnesota. For that, MnMOM is relevant, even if grateful patients and other reasons were to be ignored. So, was the MnMOM “fun”? Just what can you find that is not rewarding in being a part of something where you are surrounded with dental professionals you greatly admire serving a common and noble cause? How can you not be moved when a patient who arrived with rampant black anterior Class 5 caries leaves with an irrepressible smile and grateful tears streaming down her face?
South Central Dental Study Club meets every third Monday starting in December at the Mankato City Center Hotel.
SDDS Midwinter Meeting is January 11, 2013.
We’ll be scraping our windshields before you know it!
Susan E. M. Block
14070 Commerce Avenue NE
Prior Lake, MN 55372
Olympic Hills Hosts a Wonderful Golf Event
Monday, August 6 marked the date of the Minneapolis District Golf Day at Olympic Hills Golf Club . The golf committee was very pleased that 86 golfers were able to take a day away from their dental practices and join in the fun. The course was in absolutely beautiful condition! The competition was great even though the weather was almost too hot for August! (Thank you, Mackensie Quade, for sitting at the putting green and monitoring the contest in the hot sun!)
Sponsorship included 41 companies who were represented at the event by sponsoring a hole, the hole-in-one contest, putting contest, longest drive contests, or on-course beverage carts. Twenty-nine company representatives joined the members and enjoyed a round of golf. Raffle prizes where given away to the golfers following a wonderful buffet dinner and dessert table. Everyone left the golf event with a prize - a wonderful day for everyone!
Just a reminder that the golf tournament has moved to an every-other-year format: The next tournament will be scheduled for the summer of 2014. Stay tuned. This year’s big winners included Jason Jenny, members’ men’s low gross; Nancy Hamilton, women’s low gross; Bill Hoffmann and Kurt Carlson, men’s senior division (+55); and Chuck Hirt, Master’s division (65+). Sponsor’s low gross was won by Mike Sage and Jane Hartner. Congratulations to all!
Trapshoot was Held on a Beautiful Day!
The District’s annual trapshoot event was held Wednesday, August 15 at the Metro Gun Club in Blaine. This continues to be one of our largest annual events, with 88 members and guests registered to participate. The trapshoot committee is also one of the longest standing committees within the District — more than 88 years plus! Some members believe that the committee was formed before the district was even formed in 1926! Larry Carrow has attended the event for the past 52 years! Congrats, Larry!
The shooters always begin their day competing in duck tower, skeet, sporting clays, trap, and wobble trap following a wonderful barbeque luncheon for all those participating. Many members choose to make this an annual event with family and friends. This year’s wild game dinner continued the tradition of delicious excellence. Thanks to everyone who donated wild game again this year. Winner of the shotgun raffle was Michael Leonard, who practices in Chanhassen. A special thank you goes out to Chair Michael Gallagher and to Herb Schulte and Al Doucette, who developed an electronic scoring software program.
Greater Twin Cities Tennis Tournament
Tennis courts were abuzz with players participating in the Greater Twin Cities Tennis Mixer at Bearpath Golf and Country Club. Save the date now for Wednesday, September 4, 2013 to join us for a very popular event. We always enjoy welcoming newbies such as this year’s first-time attendees Tom Hoover and his fiancée; Adam Podratz; Carol Meyer; and fourth year
dental student Andrea Martin.
Big winners on the day were Men’s Singles, Travis Schmitt (from the Southeastern District); Doubles, Adam Podratz and David Noren; women’s singles, Wendy Gulden (first), Carol Meyer (second); Master’s, Michael Gleysteen (first), Steven Nielsen (second).
MDA House of Delegates
Our thanks to the following MDDS delegates and alternate delegates: Cale Strait, Susan Block, Douglas McNaught, Gary Bolmgren, Alejandro Aguirre, Monique Baune, Julie Clouse, Ryan Clouse, Andrew Doroschak, Michael Doroschak, Russell Dylla, Brian Grove, Patrick Foy, David Kline, Woody Kwon, Mark Madden, Brian Mondale, Kimberlee Murphy, James Nickman, Ian Park, Daniel Raether, Brian Singletary, Tasha Strait, Cindy Sundet, R. Bruce Templeton, Jonathan Twomey, Gary Williams, Gerald Wimmer, Melissa Zettler, and alternate Jeffrey Ryan.
Your Help is Needed
On Monday, December 10, the next Project Homeless Connect will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Help is needed not only on the day, but thereafter: Some local dentists open their private practices the day after the event to provide more basic care for these patients. This is where we urgently need more volunteers. It would be a great service if you practice within the city and are able to provide some pro bono care. Please consider opening your practice following the December 10 event. Contact Adele Della Torre
for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
A “bigger than you know” thank you goes to the many Minneapolis District volunteers who participated in the Minnesota Mission of Mercy in Mankato.
Welcome, New Members
Congratulations to the following new members of the district.
Tara V. Brodersen, D.D.S.
Katie E. Daniels, D.D.S.
Justin L. Hagen, D.D.S.
Angie Hasan, D.D.S.
John W. Heckert, D.D.S.
Joseph W. Johnson, D.D.S.
James A. Kerr, D.D.S.
Elias Kouvalis, D.D.S.
Anissa J. Kozlowski, D.D.S.
Kevin P. Lahr, D.D.S.
Corine N. McLellan, D.D.S.
Krista M. Miller, D.D.S.
Maria E. Miller-Rinaldi, D.D.S.
Lisa M. Power, D.D.S.
Erin A. Powers, D.D.S.
Jeffrey R. Remakel, D.D.S.
Joseph F. Rinaldi, D.D.S.
Ryan L. Ritchie, D.D.S.
Katie L. Schelling, D.D.S.
Mayra F. Soler, D.D.S.
Upcoming Programs and Events
January 10, 2013
Special Event Evening – Staff Appreciation Event General Membership Meeting
Speaker: Mr. Bruce Christopher
Subject: “Why are Women So Strange and Men So Weird?”
One hour of continuing education available
Minneapolis Marriott Southwest Hotel
February 2, 2013
13th Annual Give Kids A Smile Day
Sharing and Caring Hands Dental Clinic
Many volunteers needed.
February 8, 2013
87th Annual Midwinter Dental Meeting
Speaker: Peter Jacobsen, Ph.D.
Subject: “Fighting Dental Disease – Drugs, Bugs and Dental Products:
What to Prescribe!”
Five core hours of continuing education credits available
Minneapolis Marriott Southwest Hotel
March 7, 2013
Minneapolis Marriott Southwest Hotel
April 11, 2013
Annual Installation of Officers and Guest of Honor Meeting
Installation of President: Susan E. M. Block, D.D.S.
2013 Guest of Honor: TBA
Minneapolis Marriott Southwest Hotel
Paul K. Zollinger
925 County Road E
St. Paul, MN 55127-7197
Donna Stenberg Is SPDDS Outstanding Service Award Winner
Donna J. Stenberg is one of three children raised by Dr. Donald and Mary Stenberg in Minneapolis. Dr. Donald Stenberg practiced dentistry for more than 30 years on 38th and Nicollet in Minneapolis, and all three children subsequently chose careers in the dental/medical field. In fact, the office shingle that once hung outside her father’s practice proudly hangs in the Stenberg Orthodontics office today.
Upon graduating from Minnehaha Academy, Donna Stenberg completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in both French and chemistry. She then returned to the Minneapolis area and attended the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, where she completed the dental hygiene program, and subsequently earned her D.D.S. and Master of Science degrees and certificate in orthodontics.
Since beginning her private practice in 1986, Dr. Stenberg’s mission has continually been driven by service to both her patient families and the surrounding community. Her practice has participated in Give Kids a Smile, Smiles Change Lives, Donated Dental Services, and the inaugural Minnesota Mission of Mercy. An annual food-shelf drive and a Halloween candy buy-back program benefitting Operation Gratitude are two ways Stenberg Orthodontics involves patient families and community giving.
Along with her practice in Stillwater, Dr. Stenberg lives the life of a “perpetual student”. She currently leads a Spear Study Club, which fosters ongoing learning between specialists and general practitioners in the dental field, and is a prospective member of the Edward H. Angle Society, a global society of orthodontists dedicated to excellence and progress in the art and science of orthodontics.
To further emphasize her passion for education, she established the Donna J. Stenberg Scholarship at Stillwater High School, which recognizes and supports young women who have chosen to pursue a career in a science, health science, and/or math-related field. Fourteen scholarships have been given by Dr. Stenberg since 2008.
In her years as an orthodontist, Dr. Stenberg has been honored to serve her field through a variety of positions. For the Saint Paul District, she has been a delegate, served on the Executive Council, and was its president in 2002. She chaired the Midwinter and Ethics committees, served six years on Peer Review, and is a Trustee to the MDA. In addition, she was the 2009 president of the Minnesota Association of Orthodontics Board, served on Century College’s Dental Assisting Advisory Board, and was a consultant to the Logan Levin Cleft Palate Clinic at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Stenberg is currently a member of the Saint Paul Speaker’s Bureau and serves on the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure.
Dr. Stenberg and her husband, Steve Reed, a retired 3M engineer, raised two children, Chris and Emily, in the Stillwater area. The family continues to enjoy any — and every — outdoor adventure, including travelling, kayaking, skiing, and biking.
Dr. Stenberg will be honored at the annual Midwinter Meeting January 18, 2013.
Welcome, New Members
The SPDDS welcomes the following new members to organized dentistry:
Cassondra Braun, D.D.S.
Nicholas Brong, D.D.S.
Heidi Diekmann, D.D.S.
Jennifer Idziorek, D.D.S.
D. Cary McNeil, D.D.S.
Kathleen Logan-Rundquist, D.D.S.
And Welcome Back, Returning Members
Robert Kretchmer, D.D.S.
Ryan Lindner, D.D.S.
Angela Pieper, D.D.S.
Mission Accomplished, SPDDS Chapter
A “bigger than you know” thank you goes to the many Saint Paul District volunteers who participated in the Minnesota Mission of Mercy in Mankato.
Can’t Forget This One!
SPDDS Midwinter Meeting 2013
Friday, January 18, 2013
Crowne Plaza Saint Paul Riverfront
For all member dentists, staff, &colleagues
Do not miss this day for you and your staff!
• 8 Breakfast Speakers
• 9 Morning Speakers
• Programs and registration forms will be mailed to SPDDS members.
Outstate members can contact SPDDS to receive a program by mail at (651)697-0831 or email@example.com
More Tales of Two Cities
Saint Paul District members enjoyed a day of golf hosted by the Minneapolis District at Olympic Hills Golf Club in Eden Prairie August 6.
The Privilege to Give
I was talking to my father-in-law the other day, a retired world-renowned plant breeder and geneticist at the University of Minnesota for 30 years. It has been 15 years now since he has been active in his field, and I jokingly asked if they have been able to do without him. We reviewed his career, and I asked about China, where he had spent many years trying to create a scientific plant-breeding program to help conquer their hunger problems. He said the results there have been outstanding.
He said they brought all of the “germ-plasm” from Minnesota to jump-start their breeding program, and the results were fantastic. Food yields were astounding, and the result is that they have become able to feed their population better than ever before. Their hard work won scientific achievements that were freely and gladly given away for the good of mankind.
What a great example this is, showing how professionals in the United States, after so much hard work gaining the abilities, knowledge, and material wherewithal to excel in their chosen fields, make the choice to turn those resources to helping others.
As I thought about this tradition and this legacy, I did not have to look very far to see the continuum right here in my own backyard. Here “on the home front”, my mind was fresh with the joys and success of the first Minnesota Mission of Mercy we recently held in Mankato, headed up by Alejandro M. Aguirre. I began to run the list, knowing even as I did that there would never be an endmark to it.
There is SPDDS’s Vacharee Peterson, who has sacrificed to set up a huge dental clinic in Saint Paul to serve the low income segment of our population.
There is the Northwestern District’s indefatigable John Lueth, who set up a clinic for the same purpose in northern Minnesota.
Saint Paul has a long, long list of the volunteers who keep the Union Gospel Mission not only viable but evolving.
There is our current president, Rose Perpich, who set up a second office specifically for low income and elderly patients. These are only a few of many…
Years ago I got frustrated with the red tape and limitations of the state programs, and luckily discovered DDS (Donated Dental Services), where underserved patients facing any of the barriers to care we have been working to identify for the politicians and public at large were screened and sent to dentists who wished to donate their services to truly needy individuals. With Donated Dental Services, I can do the exact same dentistry for these patients with no need to either report or collect from the state. Well, that is just my style.
I also have “adopted” several teenage patients who need massive amounts of treatment they cannot afford. One, a young man, suffers from ectodermal dysplasia (sparse hair, mostly submerged root tips for teeth). It is a real challenge to restore his teeth rather than doing the mass extractions and dentures at age 12 everyone else had suggested. I am also treating another young man. He has leukemia, which came with 19 million dollars in medical costs by age 16. He has no dental coverage. Slowly we have brought both of these young men to adulthood with surprising success. However, the challenges will continue with them for each of their lifetimes.
Our dental generosity does not just stop in our state or with our nation, but goes overseas to places such as Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, and many, many more. My daughter, who is on the board of a charity in Haiti, has put me to work doing dentistry for the 100 orphans there. What a challenge to get equipment sufficient to do modern dentistry in a country which has such infrastructure problems. Electricity, clean water, compressed air, sewage, sanitary conditions! I just sent down some air compressors and shop vacs in a container that will take six months to get there, get through customs, and get to our space. I know there are many other individuals who have done this, and so am in search of someone who has the expertise in third world dentistry.
The goal of these efforts has never been fame or fortune. It is the kindly expression of gratitude for our fortunate circumstances and the great satisfaction in helping those who truly cannot help themselves.
Every dentist I know does “charity” work in his or her own way, some with reduced fees for patients in need, and many with outright gifts.
We don’t trumpet our contributions, for that is not the goal, but our anonymous giving has some unintended negative consequences. As a dentist who is active in legislative affairs, it is surprising that many view us with contempt as selfish and greedy as a profession. It has been frustrating to try to counteract that viewpoint. We as dentists know that is inaccurate, but despite our efforts, the stigma persists.
With our elections coming up, new legislators will be added to government service. We need to take time to get to know them personally and be a resource when they have dental questions, for all but a few are woefully ill-prepared to make any informed decision on health care matters, especially dentistry.
If we do this well, the goal of regaining the proper respect and influence at the Capitol can be achieved.
We are a generous nation. The great ingenuity of Americans has helped in many corners of this world. We are a generous profession. We deserve to be pleased with our contributions, even as we are, as I do know we are, grateful we have time and talents of value to give.
324 W. Superior Street, Suite 828
Duluth, MN 55802
More Fun Than a Fiscal One
I hate to break the news to you, but summer has come to an end. The leaves are starting to turn, nights are described as “good sleeping weather”, and talk of hunting for grouse and deer is more prevalent in barbershops and dental chairs. It’s also really hard to find your golf ball when the fairway (or the rough, in my case) is dotted with light-colored leaves that perfectly camouflage your dimpled Titleist. A lot of people describe fall as their favorite time of the year, so really this isn’t something to be sad about, but rather something to celebrate.
Okay, I lost some of you there. Well anyway, the calendar says we are moving into a new season of the year, and this also means that a new year of NEDDS meetings will be taking place throughout the Northeastern District. President Chris Carlson will be leading us through the coming year meeting by meeting, as First Vice-President Kim Lindquist has done
an excellent job of getting speakers and venues arranged for each of them. Brian McDonald is now our secretary/treasurer and will undoubtedly do a great job of keeping our District on track. Finally, I am working on getting speakers lined up for the 2013-2014 NEDDS “season”. It will be fun to see colleagues from other parts of the District at the upcoming meetings – hope you can make it!
Our House of Delegates pre-caucus meeting took place in early August at the Kitchi Gammi Club in Duluth. It was a productive meeting, with discussion about the proposed resolutions as well as development of a couple of resolutions from the Northeastern District. Some good discussion took place, which is usually a sign that people care about the issues and are paying attention at the meeting! This year the House is being held in Bloomington, and the Northeastern District will be sending a good delegation down to represent our interests. It will also be a bittersweet time, as the Minnesota Dental Association’s current president, our own Michael Zakula, hands over the reins. Mike has worked very hard for all of us during this past year, but I am sure he will be happy to get some rest!
Call Your MOM
There was another very important event that members of the Northeastern District participated in this summer, but it did not take place here. I am referring to the Minnesota Mission of Mercy, which was held in Mankato. You have probably heard any number of things about this event, which has been presented in several other states on a yearly basis, but this is the first time Minnesota has held one. It certainly won’t be the last! A number of Northeastern District dentists and spouses participated, and it was reported to be a physically draining, emotionally fulfilling couple of days of heavy-duty dentistry. Our thanks to the following NEDDS members and spouses who participated: David and Pam Perell, Michael Zakula, Matt Anzelc, Kim and John Lindquist, Matt and Linh Royal, Eileen Patterson, Kim Rostvold (daughter of Jim Rostvold), Lee Jess and son David, Scott Varland, and Jim and Barb Swanstrom. If there were any others whom I missed on this list, thank you for your service as well. Take a moment to thank these folks for volunteering for the Mission of Mercy, and consider signing up yourself for next year’s event, in Bemidji!
See you at the next meeting!
Jeanni R. Foss
15167 Edgewood Drive, Suite 240
Baxter, MN 56425
Gopher Golf Day Fundraiser a Sparkling Success!
The WCDDS sends out a special thanks to the dentists, sponsors, and speaker from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry for helping raise $1,500 for the dental school’s prosthodontic department. Specifically especial thanks to Rich Moen — pictured with Dan Rose discussing politics, I’m sure — who had organized this event for many years quite successfully and passed the torch my way this year. (Here’s hoping to keep the “success” in “successor”.) We had a change of location this year, to the Championship Dutch 18-hole course at the Legacy Golf Course in East Gull Lake. A round of applause to our sponsors for their part in this excellent event.
During our post-golf luncheon, we enjoyed a continuing education lecture on the “Space of a Smile” by the U’s Dr. Heather Conrad. District vice-president Dave Collier awarded prizes to nearly all the day’s contestants, and the weather was just plain gorgeous. Please email me any suggestions for next year’s event, which will be held the first Wednesday in August. This year all funds raised were matched by our district and donated to the dental school. That said, please note that this is not a competition, but an easygoing golf day at a beautiful course. We look forward to more hackers next year! And we can guarantee that you will be among friends. See the picture of the butterfly? That is how you will find me on the course, running into the weeds not looking for my ball but looking through my lens at creatures in the weeds. And if you want to see this photo in full color, turn to the Table of Contents for this issue. It’s almost as good as actually being there.
Northwest Dentistry Is Delighted to Hear It
I had submitted this section as a personal note, but the editors of Northwest Dentistry wanted to make sure you all saw it. They think it is very cool. So here you go:
I was inspired to start a non-profit by a Northwest Dentistry
journal article that I read back in 2008 or so about a dentist up north helping families in his community by starting a non-profit company called Northern Lights.* I thought, “I can do that! I know how to run a business, and what a great way to give back to the community.” Now three years have passed since filing the 501(c)3 with the state, and the non-profit, Brighter Days Foundation, which surprises families who have chronically or severely ill children, has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to help from many in the community and many dentists across the district area. I have to be honest in assessing the project, though. It is a fact that this is a very stressful and time-consuming sort of endeavor, and I would not recommend it for anyone working full- or even parttime in dentistry. Non-profits, I have discovered, are a completely different creature! That being said, it has also been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, and my thanks to this journal for being the initial motivator by featuring that story. You can read about my non-profit on the website www.brighterdaysfoundation. org
if you are nosey.
Third Annual Wine and Cheese Social is Here!
October 12 is the date when all fun will be had at Grandview Lodge on East Gull Lake. We have a new guest speaker, John Drilling from Kare 11 news, who will discuss his career in photojournalism. This event is always a crowded one, so make sure to call and reserve that spot for you and your significant other. There are a block of rooms reserved, and it is always a beautiful time of year to be up north. Appetizers and social hour start promptly at 6:32 p.m. Door prizes as usual! Wine tasting and “heavy appetizers” begin when the speaker is finished (around 9:00 p.m.).
We Recommend All Three
The St. Cloud Dental Society has continuing education events scheduled for October 1 and November 5, with their Christmas party December 13.
515 Delaware St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Meet the New Dean
During the 2011-2012 academic year, the University of Minnesota launched an extensive search for a new dean of the School of Dentistry. Fourteen months, many, many applications, and an extensive interview process later, Dr. Leon Assael was selected. He joined the School of Dentistry on August 1st as the 14th Dean in 124 years of University of Minnesota dentists. Because the dean is an essential member of the Minnesota dental landscape, I wanted to learn more about him as a person and a professional, and about his vision for the School of Dentistry.
NWD: Tell me about life growing up.
Dr. Assael: I grew up in a typical New York City household in the 1960s-70s. We were a family of fi ve, and all four of our grandparents lived upstairs in the same apartment building. In the courtyard was the sound of family and friends echoing in Ladino Spanish and the shouts and laughter of a close knit community. As a youngster I was passionate about sports, often starting games right after school and not getting home until sundown. My friends and I loved to play ringalevio (a children’s game — a variation of the game “tag” that originated in the streets of New York City), and school basketball, football, hockey, and baseball.
NWD: Tell me about your educational background and experience.
Dr. Assael: I graduated from Columbia University and earned my doctor of dental medicine from Harvard University with Honors. I completed my residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Vanderbilt University. I also earned a Certificate in Medical Management from the University of Kentucky Gatton School of Business. I have held a number of academic appointments and served as dean of the College of Dentistry at the University of Kentucky. Most recently, I was professor and chairman of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the School of Dentistry at Oregon Health & Science University.
NWD: How did you choose dentistry, and eventually oral surgery as your career?
Dr. Assael: Like many people, I was infl uenced by someone I knew and deeply admired. My uncle was a dentist in the Bronx, and I would help him clean up after a day of seeing patients. I didn’t plan to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. But after completing my oral surgery rotation in dental school, which consisted of a month-long rotation at the MGH Hospital, I discovered that I had a real desire to treat facial trauma, pathology, and infection.
NWD: What influences have helped shape your career?
Dr. Assael: I have always been aware of the importance of caring for the underserved. And it’s a personal understanding. I grew up in a community and household that was medically underserved. My grandmother received her medical care at the public hospital on Governor’s Island in New York, and I would go along to help her understand what was being said. Even at a young age, I understood the quality differential that can exist in a two-tier health care system and the problems real people face accessing health care services.
As a dentist, I know that oral health is critical to general health and wellness. And I believe that dentists can make a real difference in the world — we can make this a better place, one patient at a time. As an educator, I hope to be able to share this perspective and these ideals with the next generation of oral health providers. I hope to introduce them to the thinkers and experiences that allow them to understand the important role they will play in the lives of their patients, as well as the responsibilities they have to those patients and their communities and beyond.
NWD: What excited you about the opportunity to work at the University of Minnesota?
Dr. Assael: First and foremost I am a clinician and a teacher. I love being a dentist, I love teaching, and I love interacting with students and playing a role in developing the future of dentistry. A close friend of mine challenged me to make my vision for that future a reality, which led to my appointment as Dean at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. We did a lot to improve the way dental care was delivered in Appalachia, control student debt, and increase clinical experiences, but after six years of administration I missed patient care and being able to work one on one with students. I became chair of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the OHSU and spent almost ten great years there. Then I learned of this position at the University of Minnesota.
I liked what I saw, and the faculty and students were great recruiters. I learned that our school has one of the highest profile dental programs in the country,
with a reputation for excellence and innovation in its community-based service-learning programs and creative problem solving on workforce and licensure issues. We are recognized for educating the finest clinical dentists, and we attract great students. And we are located in a comprehensive, research-intensive University and Academic Health Center. Our research program has diversified its funding sources and invested in a cadre of new and well-respected investigators in areas related to virology, biomaterials, the mechanics of pain and bone development, and the relationship between oral health and general health and wellness. It has all that plus my wife’s family lives in Minnesota. So it was a little like coming “home”. Now I feel privileged to also call myself a Minnesotan and a Gopher.
NWD: In what specific ways do you hope to enhance dental education at the University of Minnesota?
Dr. Assael: We have 377 dental chairs in Moos Tower. Like many dental schools, we could use more patients. I also believe we have opportunities to enhance the interprofessional experiences we provide students. And to fulfill the mission of this great land-grant University, the School of Dentistry has a responsibility to graduate culturally competent professionals to care for all Minnesotans. I am committed to exploring new opportunities for outreach for our students. I am also concerned about student debt — increasing the number of patient encounters
will help reduce the cost of education. I also want to explore ways of enhancing our students’ experience as it relates to the use of technology and advances in the field — implants, cad cam, and digital impressions, as examples. That’s another great thing about being here at the University of Minnesota. It’s easy to look in new directions — for things to enhance and build upon — because there are so many things that are already being done so well.
NWD: How have you been active in organized dentistry?
Dr. Assael: I am a strong believer in organized dentistry and have been an active participant throughout my career. I have been on committees and served in leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels of the American Dental Association and my specialty organization. A highlight was my time as chair of the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure, and I just completed 10 years as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, which was also gratifying.
I very much appreciate the warm reception from the MDA, ASDA, and our Student District Dental Society. It is also great to know that so many MDA members are alumni of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and eager to work with the School. In my mind, both the School and the Association are working toward the same goal, that of improving oral health.
NWD: Finally, if you could compare dentistry to one sport, what would it be?
Dr. Assael: I guess I didn’t mention it before, but I’m also a skier, and I’d say that practicing dentistry is similar in some ways to downhill skiing. When you ski, you are at your best in an athletic position with your knees bent, wrists below your elbows, and chest and head up. And you need to focus your mind, body, and eyes on what you are doing. The same is true in dentistry (and oral surgery). Practicing with good ergonomics is fundamental. And you also need to completely focus on the procedure you are doing, shutting everything else out. And like skiing, you have to love it to do it well.
NWD. Thank you, Dr. Assael.
Dr. Assael: Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you and your readers. It’s been a pleasure.
And there you have it: the inside scoop on the new Dean at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. There is certainly a great deal of excitement among students, staff, and faculty. As you can see, the future at UMN is filled with great possibilities.
Travis A. Schmitt
204 4th Street SW, Suite 144
Austin, MN 55912-4427
SEDDS Annual Meeting
On August 24, 2012, the SEDDS Annual Meeting was held at Wedgewood Cove in Albert Lea, a gathering of 106! How would I characterize the morning program in one word? LAUGHTER! Our speaker, Bruce Christopher, who is by trade a psychologist, wowed the group with witty, real-life humor discussing men and women and how we communicate differently. Three hours went by like THAT. Bruce’s program was not only hilarious but informative, and contained simple and instructive suggestions about how to communicate more effectively with the opposite sex.
How was lunch, did you ask? Let me see… The sea bass was tender, and my taste buds exploded like the Fourth of July. The filet mignon melted in one’s mouth, and the accompanying wine sauce added just the right flavor to taste like a meat lover’s paradise.
Were there any dentally famous people at the meeting? Check! The Southeastern District had a lineup rivaling the red carpet at the Academy Awards. Here is the list:
Leon Assael, Dean of the U of M School of Dentistry
Michael Zakula, President of the MDA
Carmelo Cinqueonce, MDA Executive Director
Michael Flynn, President-Elect of the MDA
Daniel Rose, Second Vice-President of the MDA
Howard Taylor, MDA Speaker of the House
Alejandro Aguirre, Minnesota Mission of Mercy Chair
Matt Anzelc, MDA Legislative Affairs Chair
Laura Kramer, MDA Director of Government Affairs
Kevin Dens, MINDENPAC Chair
Travis Schmitt, MDA Treasurer
Ed McNiece, MDA Board of Trustees
John Lueth, MDA Board of Trustees
Matt Vaillant, MDA Board of Trustees for the Southeastern District
Plus your own District leaders: Steve Schwartz, Rick Nolting, Paul Morgan, Tim Holland, Eric Overby, Warren Johnson, and Chris Carroll.
This meeting was a fabulous opportunity to meet and network with your dental leaders!
Remember the Alamo! Er — the next SEDDS Annual Meeting will be our 100th Anniversary, Friday, August 16, 2013, in Byron at the Somerby Golf Club. You won’t want to miss this one. Dr.
Nolting has stated the meeting will be spectacular!
Now back to our regularly scheduled program …
The above list of dental dignitaries presented timely and valuable information about current events happening in Minnesota legislatively and our important work to restructure your dental association to achieve a level of excellence to be proud of. We owe our MDA leaders our gratitude for their leadership, passion, and a job well done. With that said, the MINNESOTA DENTAL
ASSOCIATION NEEDS YOU to do the following:
1. Become involved. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
2. Pay your dues by check instead of a credit card. Bank fees cost your association about $40.00 if you pay your dues by credit card. Show your support and do something easy to help the MDA!
3. Support MINDENPAC to protect our profession. The Southeastern District needs 100% participation!
4. Consider supporting MDA endorsed products. For instance, Electronic Dental Services charges $0.20- $0.25 per electronic claim submission versus $0.45+ per submission by other providers. If an office averages just 100 insurance claims a week, using EDS will net that office around a $1,000 in savings, which incidentally is more in savings than your MDA dues costs! My office manager also says their customer service is extremely helpful and the software is easy to use. Your support of any endorsed product also benefits your dental association. Reference the MDA website (www.mndental.org
) or call 1-800-950-3368 for assistance.
“The results of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Vince Lombardi
“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi
The MDA leaders are committed to making our Minnesota Dental Association the best in the country, but we need your help!
I thank you in advance for being involved, paying your dues by check, supporting MINDENPAC, and supporting MDA endorsed products.
John E. Lueth
Bemidji, MN 56619
My MOM, and One to Come
Through all the self-imposed long hours, the physical tiredness, the sore feet that at times threatened to dominate my existence, I could not help but be energized by the enthusiasm of all the many other volunteers working so hard themselves, each also doing his or her own individual part, in order to make this fi rst Mission of Mercy a success. I hope they will, and I challenge them to, remain involved, but also to share their enthusiasm so that others can experience at least once some of the many personal benefi ts that MOM volunteers have described - the least of which is to work ourselves out of the need to even hold a Mission of Mercy!
Volunteering at a Mission of Mercy defi nitely confim rms one of those clichés we all have heard, that “until you actually see it in person…!” You know the rest.
You find it hard to believe (thought provoking, sad for a variety of reasons, motivating) the amazing sight of people lined up more than 24 hours in advance of the doors opening for a chance to access a dentist.
Such great effort, heart and soul, time and talent expended, by so many individuals — planning and organizing before, conducting and troubleshooting during, and sharing each in his or her individual way, creating an event which I think was greater than the sum of its parts.
But the thought foremost in my mind on the Saturday evening after the last patients had exited and it was clear that this particular Mission of Mercy had been very much a success was how we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. In my mind were in particular the experience, mentorship, and invaluable participation by our colleagues from Wisconsin.
Secondly, without the four hardworking individuals from America’s Dentists Care Foundation, the visual organized chaos of the two treatment days would actually have been true chaos. Their outstanding organization of such a mixture of experienced and untrained volunteers; their unique, functional, and efficient equipment; and the efficient systems they have worked out in order to pull off a complex event of this size are obviously, to me, borne of the confidence that comes from the skill and experience of Bruce, Reggie, Gerry, and Jill, and it is thankfully well-tempered with patience! So as we stand a little taller by reaching a little higher each time, we can look ahead to MnMOM 2013 right here in Bemidji next June 14 and 15. And we can start lining up right now.
NWDDS 2013 Winter Meeting
If you just can’t WAIT for all this water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes to stiffen up so you can snowmobile, ski, ice fish, or just whip a few donuts with your vehicle on the surface of your nearest frozen body of water, then mark Friday, January 25, 2013 on your dental continuing education calendar! “Chase on the Lake” – on the then-frozen shores or Leech Lake, one of the best fisheries in Minnesota – will be the site of the Northwestern District’s 2013 Winter Meeting.
Dr. Gary Anderson is gathering other Evidence-Based Dentistry (EBD) experts to present to dental professionals all the latest regarding EBD along with information about the Dental Practice- Based Research Network (DPBRN). This is great stuff for the entire staff. When you’re faced with one of those diagnostic or treatment-based questions and the information is rattling around somewhere in the deep dark reaches of your brain, but you have a suspicion that there may be a better solution and you just don’t know it yet, knowing how to find the best science-and evidence-based answer can be just a few clicks away. Reliable, proven, tested, current knowledge. Know that you can find it. Provide the best care for your patients.
Although no formal excursions for ice fishing, snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing are planned as part of the District activities, informal opportunities will be available. Leech Lake is a great lake for perch fishing through the ice. Walker is located near great snowmobile trails, and cross-country ski trails in the Walker/ Bemidji area are also great! Come and play in the snow. Remember our Northwestern District motto, “If you don’t have fun…it’s your own fault!”