SPOTLIGHT: ERIC HANSEN, DPD
Eric Hansen’s history and involvement in the denturist profession must begin with his father, Ron Hansen. The family joke was that Ron Hansen’s dental laboratory was his “other wife” because he lived there more than he lived at home. Eric recalls the many evenings his mom would bring his father’s dinner to the laboratory where he would continue to work well into the night. Eric was not left out; he worked in the laboratory after school and summers being responsible for cleaning the laboratory, maintaining and cleaning the equipment and other never-ending tasks. Eric did not like the hard work, so when he graduated high school and needed to get serious about his future, he didn’t want to consider his dad’s career. However, after attempts at a few jobs he realized perhaps the dental laboratory work was not too bad so when his father mentioned there was a position opened he asked for the job and his father said yes. Eric then realized that while he was working most of his life helping his father he was also learning a skill. Also, he realized that he actually loved the work.
They generated a good business and had several accounts fabricating appliances for local dentists. Ron was acquainted with several denturists in Canada, and dreamed of the profession but with the strong dental lobby in Washington considered that a dream for another day. However, one of their dentist clients and personal friend enjoyed working with them and was impressed with their talent and asked them to join him and open a denture clinic. This bit of independence was great and they were disappointed when circumstances required their friend leave Washington. They tried to continue their work but were harassed repeatedly by the dental board with cease and desist orders and threats of prosecution.
Ron had been working with the National Denturist Association, USA and it was at one of the national meetings they learned about the Indian Tribal Denturist Association and that some people were working independently on Native American Sovereign lands in Oklahoma. This was appealing to them and with acceptance from the Nooksack tribe in Washington opened a clinic. They enjoyed their clinic but the dental board continued their harassment.
Even though the dental board had no authority on the sovereign lands this harassment only spurred their interest in becoming totally independent. By this time all the talk was “total independence.” Following the lead of Oregon they attended Oregon Denturist College, were graduated, challenged the Oregon State Board Examination and received a license in Oregon.
After approaching the state legislature with these credentials, using as part of their argument that Washington State’s own Health Department’s study recommended recognizing denturists and still being denied, the group of about 12 decided to have a state initiative. This was an enormous challenge and required hours and hours of work and a major financial commitment. They worked tirelessly, gathered more signatures than required, bought newspaper, radio and television ads. They challenged the dentists to public debates and were interviewed on local television stations. Eric said they were “down to the wire” and out of money even after this dedicated group had mortgaged their homes, sold automobiles and boats. They needed $3000 more; everyone had reached as far as they could, but not to give up Eric secured a loan on his truck. Then there was the waiting. They all gathered at a local restaurant to watch the returns; Eric said, “This was the most exciting time of my life.” Bill #607 passed with almost 58% citizen approval; one of the highest initiative wins ever in Washington.
Eric’s work did not stop there; quite the contrary. Appointed by the governor he has been a member of the Washington State Health Department Denturist Board since the beginning serving as chair much of the time. He holds denturist license number two. He is an active member of the Washington Denturist Association and is a board member of the National Denturist Association, USA and member of the International Federation of Denturists.
Eric’s respect was noticeably heart-felt while saying, “We have to give a lot of respect to our denturist founding fathers. These men and women in their 60’s, started college and changed careers putting their fortunes on the line for the profession. They are due our admiration and respect.”
We were saddened with the passing of Eric’s father, but his legacy lives on; Eric’s daughter, Melissa and son Cody are denturists and work with him at his clinics giving him more time to pursue his hobbies fishing and hunting. Eric’s advice to anyone interested in this profession is to not be intimidated, get educated and be proud of your profession; be strong and stand up and take your rightful position as a denture specialist healthcare provider.
SPOTLIGHT: LENARD DEOCHAND, DPD
Lennie as he is affectionately called was born in British Guyana, a sovereign state on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana has the distinction of being the only South American nation in which English is the official language.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to work in the dental industry. His brother was a dental laboratory technician and when in high school his Mother made him work with his brother in the laboratory; he didn’t like it. However, when his brother immigrated to the U.S., Lennie took over the laboratory business and realized being his own boss, he loved it. He was happy and had a successful business for a few years, but his family immigrated to the U.S. and were insisting he join them. So after six years being his “own boss” Lennie followed his family and immigrated to the U.S. and moved to the state of Florida. He and his brother worked together again as laboratory technicians, but Lennie really didn’t like it this time because while in Guyana, even though denturitry was not a recognized profession, the need was so great that technicians served people and the “powers that be” turned a blind eye. However, that was not so in the U.S. He did not like the limitations and inability to do his best when mandated to follow a prescription more often with an inferior impression sent from a dentist.
Needless to say Lennie was quite disenchanted with the U.S. and Florida, yet he trudged along in his dental laboratory until one of his suppliers asked him if he was going to the denturist meeting. He was not familiar with the profession but was excited about what he had learned and anxious to attend the meeting. When he arrived at the hotel he saw hundreds of people and thought everyone was a denturist; he knew no one and, asked directions from a stranger, coincidentally Paul Levasseur, a denturist from Maine who was attending the meeting. Lennie was welcomed warmly by the denturist group. He said, “The registration fee of $25 to attend this meeting was the best $25 1’ve ever spent.” However, he learned it was not as easy as he thought to become independent, there was school involved, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t wait until Monday after the conference to call and enroll in George Brown College. He said he didn’t even ask what it cost; he was going to college to be a denturist and was more determined and worked even harder for recognition in Florida; he approached groups like the AARP and other associations but they all seemed to be owned or influenced by the dental lobby. He went to his representative who disappointingly told him quite frankly, “You have no money, I can’t help you?” He went to another politician who listened to his request, but told him quite frankly, “My brother is a dentist and if this issue should ever come up for a vote in the legislature, I will definitely vote against it.” By this time he had heard denturists could practice independently in Washington State and he had made friends with Michael Coffey, a Washington denturist, who had invited him to visit. One visit was all it took. He started looking for an office immediately, found a beautiful office for rent, and bought it. The rest is history as far as his business.
Just talking to Lennie, one knows immediately that he loves what he does and he has a heart to serve. He has a thriving business, but still will serve shut in’s if called. He would advise anyone wanting to enter the profession to enter it with their heart and always put the patient first. Patient satisfaction is the emotional reward which generates the tangible reward of a successful practice. He says with a bit of pride, “I have a patient that comes from South Dakota, one from Alaska and another from South Carolina.” He never tires of the comments from patients and seeing their positive reactions, he knows his efforts most often will be life changing for them. He is delighted to relate the comments from a patient’s son who said, “That is exactly how my Mom used to look;” or from another patient, “You gave me back my life, I can see me again when I look in the mirror.”
Lennie also wants to give back to the profession that has given him so much. He is mentoring a student from the American Denturist College. He says she is an excellent practitioner and he is pushing her to become the best she can be. As a mentor he wants students to serve with excellence and pride. He is active serving his community participating as a Community Health Partner working with the University of Washington Denture Program at the UW Community Dental Clinic providing the needs of disadvantaged working adults in southwest Washington. He has received recognition as a volunteer for the Clark County Skills Center training interns and Clark County Substance Abuse Center improving the lives of people in recovery. His wife, Analie serves as his office manager at their busy denturist practice and they agree the seven members of their staff are like family. He is proud of his children who are off to their various careers except the youngest still at home in middle school.
He is genuinely grateful to the pioneers who have nurtured the profession this far and all the individuals and the NDA, USA who he credits for his success by giving their support and encouragement from his first introduction to the profession. He states, “When I was first starting, they never denied their help.” He is a member of the NDA, USA and serves on the Education Committee. He is a strong advocate for national denturist recognition and his benevolent efforts have extended to the International Federation of Denturists and their efforts in the country of Malta. Lennie’s philosophy, There are dreamers and there are people who go after their dreams…I’m glad I went after my dream.”
A MESSAGE FROM NDA PRESIDENT, ANITA OGLE, LD
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
It is with appreciation that I have been elected to serve as a member of the National Denturist Association’s Board of Directors. I am honored and very excited about what I know the future holds for us. I literally grew up in the denturist profession attending dozens of state and national meetings over the years, first with my denturist father and then as a laboratory technician, as a George Brown College student, proud graduate and now a denturist; I hold a denturist license from the state of Maine.
I am encouraged to see how the association and profession has grown. The last few years especially have seen tremendous growth and it continues to grow at an astounding rate. I recognize the responsibility for this growth is the unrelenting work of individuals over the years who have been visionary and dedicated and those individuals who continue to build on that firm foundation. It is most important to remind us that we will continue to grow professionally as we stay united in our efforts.
However, some might ask, “What is our goal?” I can answer that unequivocally. Our goal is to gain the recognition we deserve as professionals in order to serve the hundreds of thousands of individuals all over the United States needing our professional talents. Being a part of this association proves that you are visionary and that you realize you are part of something bigger than your individual clinic, community or state and your efforts are not only for yourself, but for the bigger cause – seeking national recognition, thus enabling us to serve.
One of our own, who shared and acted on that vision was friend and colleague, William (Bill) Buxton, Jr. He recently passed away quite unexpectedly and our sincerest sympathies are with his family. A longtime denturist, Bill was the founder of the New England School of Denture Technology. We will miss him but we are confident that those he inspired will carry his mantle; he was visionary and inspired others. We are also saddened and send condolences to NDA, USA board of director’s member Cliff Christe not whose wife recently passed away. Lynn supported Cliff and his dedicated work for the Montana denturists and the NDA, USA. These colleagues and friends will be missed.
Summer is already upon us and plans are in full swing preparing for our 2016 annual conference. We anticipate the biggest and best meeting ever; please mark your calendar and make your plans now. The leaders I have met in this organization are incredible and their hard work and dedication never ceases to amaze me; their plans for this conference are incredible. The excitement of seeing colleagues, renewing friendships and meeting new people entering our profession strengthens our vision. You do not want to miss this event!
As your NDA, USA Board of Directors President, I am honored and humbled to serve and I look forward to meeting everyone. The NDA, USA leadership team and workers are awesome, but I know that it is the energy, devotion and enthusiasm that each of you brings to the association and conferences that weaves the fabric that binds us. Regardless of how hard the committees work, we would not have a successful association or annual conferences without each of you. We appreciate your membership and we are anticipating a great time at our upcoming conference; and are anxious to meet you at the Orleans in Las Vegas, October 12 – 15, 2016.
“Thank you” never seems enough, but with sincerity,“Thank you!”
Anita C. Ogle, LD
President, National Denturist Association, USA
SPOTLIGHT: JOHN MERRILL, LD, DD
John was born in Belfast, ME. The family moved to Bangor, ME, when he was a child and this is where he calls home, went to school and graduated. As a young man, only 17 years old, he wanted to join the military. His high school offered the opportunity for students in their senior year to join the Army Reserve. He had to have his mother’s permission, and he said with a smile in his voice, “He had to do a lot of begging but she relented.” So once every month during his senior year he marched off to the Army camp for training and then six months active duty after graduation. He served 10 years in the Army Reserve before going into the Air National Guard. While in the Guard he worked in the dental department as a dental assistant. and was trained in dental radiology. He enjoyed dental work and thought it would make a good career so after he was discharged from the service he attended and was graduated from Kerpel Dental Technician School in New York state. Money was scarce and he was fortunate to secure a job as an usher at the famous Radio City Music Hall. This was a fun way to earn extra cash and enjoy the “big time” in New York.
After graduation from Kerpel he worked in a very large dental laboratory knowing he would get a lot of experience working with as many as 60 technicians. After a time working in this laboratory he was confident enough to return home to Bangor and work in a dental laboratory for a private practice dentist. It was here he met a friend who worked with him as a technician When this friend saw the Canadians getting regulation to work independently he began promoting this idea among the technicians. The friend eventually lost interest in the project, but he had set a fire under John and the few other technicians who at that time had gotten on board with the idea of independence. Knowing they could serve people more efficiently with a more personalized, usable and much less expensive product without the “middle man,” the technicians were determined to win their independence. It was happening in Canada and they knew it could happen in Maine. So they organized and started visiting their legislators seeking recognition as independent practitioners.
This did not set well with the Maine Dental Association and who hired a lobbyist. “This guy buried us,” to quote John, “but we learned a good lesson how to lobby, so all was not lost.” The Maine Dental Association, in their efforts to fight the “uprising” began charging the Maine dentists $100 a month to fight this “threat.” That did not set well with the dentists who had been working successfully with these technician.
They went back to the legislators who finally agreed they could use the word “denturist” but to practice they had to go to school and the state was mandated to set up an educational program. Unfortunately, 18 years passed before, Ralph Dhuy, a Maine “denturist” took the initiative to start the procedure to get an educational program established. The state accepted the denturist program offered by George Brown College; this prestigious school established a college program that met and exceeded the educational criteria outlined by the state of Maine and offered an avenue for education for individuals seeking a career as a “denturist” in the United States. The state of Maine legislature finally approved a law that allowed denturists to work as independent practitioners. It was a rough road at first. Even after completion of their education and receiving a license these pioneers were required to obtain a Health Certificate before they could serve a patient. However, it was not long before this extra trip to a dentist or doctor was deemed unnecessary and an extra expense to the patient so the denturists were able to eliminate that requirement. Denturists in Maine have been successful in proving themselves proficient; their scope of practice now includes all removable dental prosthetics, they have their own sub-committee on the state health board, and are on the path to having greater board recognition.
John has been a pivotal individual throughout the years and all of the efforts in Maine. He is the senior member of the denturist subcommittee and continues to be active in promoting the profession. John is one of the last of the Denturist pioneers in Maine. He has a wealth of knowledge of the legislative process having lobbied and contributed to initiation of several bills which became law, including the 1996 law which opened the door for our education and practice. He is tenacious and patient; he never gave up and after enormous effort he along with fellow denturists finally received his “coveted” license to practice independently; at the age of 62 John was graduated from George Brown College.
John is a quiet sort of guy; very unassuming, but has textbook knowledge when it comes to his profession and has unrelenting determination that denturists should be available to serve in every state because denturists are the denture experts; he is proud of his profession He continues to serve patients in his private practice in Etna, Maine. When asked why he worked so hard seeking denturist legislation his inspiring response, “We had a dream; that kept us going.” The denturist profession owes this pioneer our respect and appreciation. To quote a fellow Maine denturist, “John is one of the best friends anyone could ever have. Generous to a fault, John is always there to help when needed. Truly a man to admire.” We are proud and honored to spotlight John Merrill.
SPOTLIGHT: TAD BURZYNSKI, RDH, LD
When the name Tad Burzynski is mentioned in denturist’s circles worldwide it would be difficult to find anyone who did not know who you were talking about. Tad has literally been involved all his life. His first introduction was as a youngster working in his father’s office….. doing scrub work at first but eventually through OJT doing relines and repairs. However, this was an aside job and not his profession of choice so after graduating from Umpqua Community College he worked in the lumber industry. Even though this was enjoyable work he realized a future in the lumber industry was a bit unpredictable. By this time he was married and children were part of his plans so he sought a career with more opportunity and security. Having worked with his father and seeing his success and the potential for a career in an industry in which he was familiar and enjoyed he sought advice from his father and other denturists. Ultimately, choosing a career as a denturist was an easy one; he has not looked back. His preparation to become a denturist was unique in that he believed having experience as a dental hygienist would be beneficial so he received his degree and license as a dental hygienist as well as a denturist. He split his time working as a hygienist for two dentists and operating a mobile denturist practice serving elderly residents in assisted living and nursing home communities. His goal was to eventually establish a private denturist practice which he did in 1993 when he and his wife DeeDee moved to Bend, Oregon, and opened The Denture In. Their well-respected practice has flourished; they enjoy reciprocal referrals to and from several oral surgeons and dentists in Bend and they will soon celebrate 25 years of service. Tad has been totally immersed in his career and the denturist professional associations and is the first to proudly admit he is fortunate that his wife, DeeDee is just as committed. Together they have worked as a team as leaders in the Oregon State Denturist Association (OSDA), The National Denturist Association, USA (NDA, USA) and the International Federation of Denturists. Tad, as his father, has served as president of the OSDA and NDA, USA. He has served on the boards of these organizations accepting various positions and has been active in organizing and participating in state, national and international conferences and activities. He has served as the U.S. delegate to The International Federation of Denturists.
Tad has always encouraged professionalism and education and even though educated and licensed, when the opportunity arose to receive a denturist diploma from George Brown College, he and fellow Oregonian denturist, Shawn Murray, attended and were graduated. He is proud of this earned diploma. He has been an outspoken advocate promoting education and professionalism encouraging denturists to proudly take their place as healthcare providers in their communities. His vision is to see that every U.S. citizen has the choice to visit a denturist in their own neighborhood for their prosthetic dental needs. Tad and DeeDee are very proud of their two grown sons, Ryan and Andrew (Andrew will soon be graduated from denturist college) and most proud of Kyle. Tad says, “Even though he was with us for only three years, Kyle lived a happy life. He gave me an outlook on life…..how short it is and how you never know what is going to happen…….Kyle, stricken with Fanconi Anemia, had everything in the world going against him, but it never stopped him from accomplishing things impossible for him. His life was influential in terms of what I do and how I try to do it….with energy, honesty and integrity.” Kyle was an inspiration to everyone who was fortunate to know him for the three short years of his life and see his bright smile and feel his happy demeanor. He will always be remembered as part of our denturist family! The National Denturist Association, USA is fortunate that Tad has agreed to continue his leadership role as a member of the board of directors. His vision and leadership are invaluable. If asked to describe a denturist, one would only have to say, Tad Burzynski! We are proud to spotlight Tad!
HONORING CANADIAN PIONEERS
“Denturist all over the world are members of a unique family of rebels.” This quote from a South African denturist is true and proven if one attends an international meeting of denturists and feels this kinship and hears stories about the denturists heroes. This quote generated the inspiration for the honoring feature in our magazine. William Lees, from Alberta, Canada, was a small man suffering from a handicap as a result of an accident which ended his ability to work his heavy labor job. He found his niche as a dental mechanic making dentures for dentists for their patients, however, the depression that hit in 1929 caused his work to drop significantly because people were unemployed, times were desperate and many were starving. Dentures, at the price charged by dentists, was a luxury few could afford. Realizing he could provide a superior denture for less without the “middle man” he started seeing patients. Of course, this displeased the dentists, they would threaten and fine him, but he would pay the fine and keep working. Eventually, the continued harassment and fines was so great he had to sell his home and everything he owned to prevent going to jail. Yet he continued. He partnered with Harry Courtney, also a dental mechanic and together they served with dedication and commitment and each harassment and incident brought on by the dentists created more and more publicity. The public rallied behind them and started a petition which yielded thousands of signatures that was sent to their legislators. Listening to their constituents the legislators amended the law in favor of the dental mechanics…this started the denturist revolution in Canada.
Each province has their story and heroes who fought for and received denturist recognition and no one is better known or appreciated more than Ben Sweet. He played an instrumental role in founding the Denturist Society of Ontario and was renowned as a man of principal and champion for the cause. Like many pioneers, as he led Ontario’s fight he was jailed and had his office raided and records and denture work confiscated. However, his perseverance and vision for and contribution to the denturist profession grew to encompass all of Canada and the world. These forefathers are an example to us in our quest for independence….we must maintain the perseverance of William Lees and the vision of Ben Sweet to look beyond where we are to visualize a global profession dedicated to serve. Everyone deserves the right to be served by a denturist because denturist change lives – one smile at a time!
NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEMBER
The Board of Directors of the National Denturist Association, USA want to welcome aboard Anita Ogle. The association members elected Ms. Ogle to the Board of Directors during their annual general meeting held in conjunction with the recent World Symposium in Alexandria, VA. Anita is a George Brown College graduate and holds a denturist license from the state of Maine. She has been an active member of the association and leadership team and an advocate for national regulation. We look forward to the contribution her dedication and energy will bring to the board and appreciate her willingness to serve.
2015 NDA AWARDS
We want to congratulate the NDA Award recipients for 2015. Click here to view our 2015 Awards given out at the World Symposium including Denturist of the Year, The Rayborn Award and the Distinguished Presidents Awards.
It may seem that Andrew Burzynski was destined to enter the dental field since he literally “grew up” in a denturist clinic. His grandfather, grandmother and father are denturists and have been actively involved in the profession not only owning and serving patients in their own clinics but also with their professional associations. These gentlemen have been leaders in their state as well as the National Association, USA and International Federation of Denturists. Andrew expressed how he remembers the dedication of his parents who worked diligently promoting the ballot initiative in Oregon attempting to advance the denturist profession there. He remembers the thrill and family celebration when the initiative passed.
So Andrew, you might say was “born into the profession.” However, even though he has enormous love for his parents, he believes his choice to enter the denturist field is his own, chosen because of his respect for the profession and for the service it provides.
This choice obviously required college but before starting college he was delighted when Joe Vize, a denturist and family friend, invited him to work in his clinic getting some hands-on experience in the laboratory. This experience has proven valuable. After much consideration he is very pleased he chose Northern Alberta Technical Institute. He states this college more than exceeded his expectations. He appreciates their policy of student input, the education is excellent. The classroom experience is perfect for him and the opportunity for patient care in an academic setting is awarding him the needed education in order to start his career as a competent denturist.
He states his goal is to practice in Oregon in his own clinic and become involved in his professional associations and ultimately be part of the leadership and be part of promoting the profession that he loves and respects.
SPOTLIGHT – JOSEPH C. VIZE, DPD, LD
Some people never discover their niche — their purpose — in life. For Joseph C. Vize, you might say being a denturist was his destiny. “There’s no question that this is what I was born to do,” he says of his chosen profession. Dentistry runs in his blood. He is the son of a denturist and the grandson and nephew of dentists.
But the 35-year-old denturist didn’t always feel so certain of his place at the dental chair. As a small child he saw the struggles his parents, Randall (Randy) and Janet Vize, endured as they lobbied tirelessly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, for denturists independence in Nevada.
He saw his father arrested and the family endure harassment and threats to the degree that the police had to intervene on their behalf. He remembers he and his younger brother being sent to his grandparents for months at a time because of the dangerous physical threats the family received from the Nevada dentists. These dentists also pressured people to stop patronizing Randy’s business thus money was scarce. He tried other jobs but his heart was not in it; he was a denturist and he wanted to serve. This was a major dilemma because of the financial and emotional hardship on his family. When he learned there was a group of denturists in Washington State who were seeking independence and even though he didn’t want to leave Nevada he decided a move would be in the best interest of his family and he was excited to join the effort in Washington. So the Vize family moved to Washington, joined in the effort for independence and celebrated with the passage of I-607 – the denturists won their independence by the biggest margin of any issue placed on the ballot! Randy received his denturist license and the family enjoyed five great years before tragedy struck; Joe’s father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and passed away; he was only 59.
Honoring his father’s wishes to maintain his denturist practice, Joe who was headed to Washington State University to complete his studies in engineering, quickly changed direction. “I decided that I had to at least try to keep my promise. I figured that I would fail, but I would at least be able to say that I tried, and did my best.” Joe enrolled in the denturist program at George Brown College and the further he delved into his studies the more he began to appreciate his “father’s profession.” He also realized he had a talent for it. The years of doing small odd jobs in his father’s laboratory had provided a strong platform for his career. After graduation and completing an internship with Oregon Denturist, Ken Holden, and sitting for the Oregon State Boards, Joe received his Oregon License and later a reciprocal denturist license in Washington State and has not looked back; he now has a clinic in Washington and Oregon.
“I really am doing what God intended for me to do,” he says. His patients agree. They continue to bring gifts and notes of appreciation to him and his wife, Stephanie who manages the front offices in his clinics. Joe believes that the tremendous satisfaction of providing beautiful functional dentures, and enhancing a patient’s quality of life, is the greatest reward of his work. He says, “My dad always said, ‘I wish I could pay my bills in thank-you notes’, and I agree.”
Because Joseph loves denturitry, he takes an interest in constantly improving his own practices and abilities and is always ready to receive new information. “Everybody does something a little bit differently, and you can learn something from everyone,” he says.
Following his father’s footsteps Joe is totally immersed in his profession. He is a member of the National Denturist Association, USA and serves on the Board of Directors as Vice-President. He is the past president and board member of the Washington Denturist Association. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Oregon State Denturist Association. He believes that active involvement in these professional organizations is absolutely vital to the protection and ongoing success of the denturist profession.
Along with the family practice, Joe inherited some key family heirlooms. The dental chair in his main operatory belonged to his grandfather. “Part of it is nostalgia, part of it is practicality,” he says. “The old-style barber-type chairs are better for taking impressions, because they hold the patient upright.“ He says that patients get a kick knowing that the chair they are sitting in dates to early last century.
Joe still works closely with his family, his wife is the office manager, his mother does the bookkeeping and his brother is the dental lab technician. Karleen Meyer is practically adopted; she has worked with the family as a dental lab technician for over 20 years.
Joe will be forever grateful to Ken Holden for “taking him under his wing” and mentoring his internship and knowing the valuable lessons he learned and realizing the importance of this college requirement he was delighted to be asked to mentor a student soon to graduate from The American Denturist College.
Joseph has also found a larger family within the network of denturists he and his wife have met over the years. “It feels like family,” Stephanie says. “They even know Ruger,” she laughs, referring to the couple’s 10-year-old miniature schnauzer. “He might tell you he has other hobbies, like target shooting or cars,” Stephanie says of her husband, “But when you catch him reading about surgical implant placement with color photographs across the table while you’re trying to eat lunch, and when he has a 15-minute break during a hectic day, and you find him watching a YouTube video entitled, Anatomy of the Skull, you begin to realize this is pretty much all he thinks about.”
It is, after all, his destiny.
SPOTLIGHT – SHAWN MURRAY, LD
Shawn Murray’s dedication to the denturist profession is evident in her extraordinary work for the National Denturist Association, USA (NDA, USA), for the state of Oregon and in her efforts to promote denturist education. She has been an active member of both the NDA, USA and Oregon State Denturist Association leadership for over 25 years. She has also been an influential member of the Oregon Board of Denture Technology and the Oregon Health Licensing Board; she is presently serving a fourth term on this board and has served as chair each term. During her leadership on this board the Oregon legislature has continued to increase the scope of practice for denturists to include all removable dental prosthetics with the exception of orthodontia.
She was also instrumental in generating a national written and clinical examination for U.S. denturists. The Oregon Health Licensing Board has accepted this national examination as the official board examination for denturists’ licensure for the state of Oregon. Washington State has also accepted this examination as their state board examination for denturists. Also generated under her leadership the NDA, USA has developed a program by which denturist colleges can receive certification after meeting required standards of excellence. This not only establishes harmonization within the denturist educational community it also assures that graduating students receive quality education.
As a result of her efforts as president of the NDA, USA the association’s membership has significantly increased. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors as Past President.
Shawn’s career in the dental profession began as a dental assistant, however she became disenchanted when she realized she did not like the sight of blood so the dentist she was working with suggested she try dental laboratory work. So off to dental laboratory school she went; she enjoyed this part of dentistry and found she was very good at it and she enjoyed the challenges. After dental laboratory school she worked in a couple of commercial labs before serving as an in house technician for a prosthodontist. While with the prosthodontist she enjoyed working with patients. She became involved in the Oregon Dental Laboratory Association and eventually owned her own dental lab business.
It was at a continuing education class she met, Lillian Peterson, who introduced her to the denturist profession and the Washington Denturist Association. She became totally involved participating in this association serving on committees, the Board of Directors and ultimately President of that board.
She worked diligently promoting education for Washington denturists and was involved in their initiative that eventually led to their professional regulation and licensure. She also met Washington pioneer denturists Kurt Roehl and Chet Charron who introduced her to the National Denturist Association, USA. She attended Oregon Denturist College, received her education and license in Oregon. She assisted in gaining accreditation for this college. After graduation, she contacted Lillian Peterson whose denturist practice in Florence, Oregon, was for sale and jumped at the change of owning her own practice, especially since she had previously visited Florence and loved the quaint coastal town. She eventually expanded her practice to include a second clinic in Eugene, Oregon.
Always an advocate for denturist education, Shawn became concerned when the Oregon Denturist College closed. She was delighted when George Brown College out of Toronto, Canada, offered excellent education for U.S. students and even though licensed she enrolled and was graduated from this prestigious school’s denturist program. However, Shawn wanted a U.S. college for denturists and with this determination she retained an individual to write a curriculum and sought to develop a program for denturists. Realizing the enormous task involved in establishing a school she sought out individuals who might be interested in following through with her vision for a denturist college on the West coast. She approached Todd Young, an Oregon denturist, who was excited about the offer; the American Denturist College was born.
With Shawn’s total immersion in her profession there seems little time for anything else, but not true. Shawn tends a five acre tree farm and she and Nancy, her partner of 20 years, are proud parents of four cats and nine chickens. They are also avid travelers and have visited most of the U.S. and several countries. The most recent trip was crossing the Panama Canal.
She has recently sold her two clinics and is presently working in a private practice. Her plans are to eventually retire completely so they can continue to travel.
Shawn’s contribution to the denturist profession is exemplary and untiring. Her leadership has brought incomparable advancements for every denturist in the U.S. We are proud and honored to spotlight Shawn as an example of dedication and vision for the advancement of the profession she nobly represents.
HONORING – PAUL R LEVASSEUR
Paul R Levasseur was born on June 22, 1926, third eldest of seven children in Lowell, Massachusetts. He grew up during the Great Depression; his first job was selling newspapers on a street corner at age 6 to help support his family. This would continue until he had to quit school after the seventh grade in order to work full time.
At the age of 17, he volunteered for the United States Army and was part of the liberation of Europe. He was in the second invasion wave, Omaha Beach, D-Day, three weeks before his eighteenth birthday. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, fell ill with the flu and was cared for and hidden by a Dutch family. That triggered his lifelong love of Holland and its people.
After WW II, in 1947 he met and married Marion J Meyer in Coburg, Germany during the US Army occupation. Neither spoke the other’s language, instead communicating through the language of love. Paul and Marion had a son; they named him Paul.
During the ensuing years, he provided for his family in any way he could. He cut up cars for scrap, swept floors at a high school, worked as a machinist and as a milk truck driver. After a severe back injury he spent 3 months in a VA hospital in Togus, Maine. While in the hospital, he broke his denture. It was repaired within hours in the in-house dental laboratory. He never forgot.
After healing well enough to be able to go back to limited work, he was tested by the Vocational Rehabilitation division of the Department of Labor of the State of Maine. Given many options, he remembered his broken denture and was intrigued by the prospect of becoming a dental technician, so when the position as an apprentice in a dental laboratory was offered Paul was pleased. Skilled with his hands, he soon became the head denture set up technician. He was also fast, averaging 32 set-ups a day in the era of porcelain teeth.
Branching out on his own, he bristled at the lack of respect accorded the technicians and dentistry’s high fees charged to their patients for dentures and the laboratory technician’s low fees – what the dentists actually paid the technician for making the denture. Soon he was circumventing repressive dental laws and making dentures for people without the middleman – the dentist. Eventually he was prosecuted for illegal dentistry. He was fortunate to draw a compassionate judge. Since that judge’s brother was one of Paul’s satisfied clients, the judge looked for any excuse to dismiss the charges. He found that excuse, much to the aggravation of the many dentists in court that day.
Around the mid seventies, the Denturist movement came to Maine. John Merrill, John Hussey, Ed Bates, Paul and others managed to get the profession regulated. Sort of; the profession was recognized but cleverly controlled. Unfortunately, the Maine dental board was tasked with setting up the curriculum for denturist education. They set it up as dental school. So much for Denturism for the next 18 years. However, right would eventually win and George Brown College entered the scene. Denturists won their independence.
Paul and Marion established Standish Denture Clinic (SDC). Drawing patients from as far as 150 miles, SDC became the premier source of high quality dentures, offering affordable denture care in southern and central Maine, northern New Hampshire and the Lake Champlain areas of Vermont and New York.
In its forty-seventh year, Standish Denture Clinic has proven to be a tribute to Paul and Marion’s vision of affordable denture care for everyone, with 4 offices and well over 50,000 satisfied patients. Their vision is continued by their son, Paul, also a denturist, who now serves the children and grandchildren of the patients his father served. He admits he was not intrigued by the business, but necessity required him to ask his father for a job. When his father retired he was forced to step up and take responsibility. Paul says, “My father made me a man.”
In later years, Paul and Marion have championed their favorite charities including youth boxing and Special Olympics in their second home in St. Kitts, West Indies and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. From street urchin to successful businessman, Paul proved that the American dream still exists. He passed away from cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2008. His vision lives on as young people proudly enter the profession with the same determination to serve. We are proud to honor a genuine pioneer.
CONGRATULATIONS DENTURIST OF THE YEAR
Fred Giovanini, LD, Past President of the Idaho Denturist Association has been named the 2014 Denturist of the Year. This award is presented to an individual by his peers and members of the National Denturist Association, USA for outstanding dedicated service to the denturist profession. He served diligently as the president of the Idaho Association and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of The National Denturist Association, USA and appointed to the Education Committee. The leadership of the association is delighted by this unanimous decision to honor Fred.
OUTSTANDING PERSON OF THE YEAR
Theresa Sulek was named the Outstanding Person of the Year at the 2014 annual National Denturist Association, USA’s conference. Theresa’s exemplary service to the profession has been invaluable. She has worked tirelessly assisting the Association’s President, Executive Director and the Secretary/Treasurer using her excellent computer excel organizational talents. She has also contributed much to the success of our magazine, The National Denturist, USA by contacting and soliciting advertisers. She is also a valuable member of the Event Coordinating Committee, the PR Committee and the Member Benefits Committee. She also serves as Office Manager for her husband, Clayton Sulek’s two denturist clinics in Washington State. She is quite a busy lady and certainly deserving of this honor. Congratulations and a big “thank you” to Theresa for definitely being the association’s Outstanding Person of the Year.
DISTINGUISHED PRESIDENT’S AWARD
Ricky and Less Hochhauser received the Distinguished President’s Award. Members of The National Denturist Association, USA were pleased to present this award to honor the Hochhausers because of their many years of loyal support of the Association and the denturists it represents. Ricky was founder of the American Dental Supply Company and assisted by her husband, Les, a chemists, the company has evolved into one of the dental industry’s leading manufacturer of dental chemicals and materials. The company is in the forefront also providing training courses via lectures and webinars. They have not missed an annual denturist conference for many years and have always participated as a vendor and often as a presenter and instructor.
DENTAL INSURANCE INFORMATION
CIGNA will be adding denturists to their Preferred Provider Network in the near future. Please contact them for more information. Also, the CIGNA for Healthcare Professionals website is a convenient internet-based platform that allows dental providers the ability to conduct transactions over a secure website directly linked to Cigna including eligibility verification and claims status. To register today, click here…
Also there are a few new CDT codes for 2015 relevant to the services denturists provide. These new codes should be used to file insurance claims effective January 1, 2015:
D6110 – Implant/abutment supported removable denture for edentulous arch
-maxillary (delete D6053)
D6111 – Implant/abutment supported removable denture for edentulous arch
-mandibular (delete D6053)
D6112 – Implant/abutment supported removable denture for partially edentulous arch
-maxillary (delete D6054)
D6113 – Implant/abutment supported removable denture for partially edentulous arch
-mandibular (delete D6054)
D6114 – Implant/abutment supported fixed denture for edentulous arch
-maxillary (delete D6078)
D6115 – Implant/abutment supported fixed denture for edentulous arch
-mandibular (delete D6078)
D6116 – Implant/abutment supported fixed denture for partially edentulous arch
-maxillary (delete D6079)
D6117 – Implant/abutment supported fixed denture for partially edentulous arch
-mandibular (delete D6079)
A copy of the CDT 2015 codes is available at ada.org or can be ordered from most dental supply catalogues.