One could say Glen started his denturist career in the late 70s if, as a kid, sweeping the floor in his father’s dental lab counts. However, Glen states, “Realistically, I got started in 1986 when I enrolled in college and needed a job. My parents offered me the luxury of living at home while attending college which was great, but college is expensive and I needed a job. My Dad’s offer to work in his dental clinic was appreciated. He was a strong advocate for establishing legislation to recognize denturists, was an active lobbyist and was defying the dental community by serving patients. However, I was not thinking about this as a career; I just wanted a job.”
This was in Kentucky in the late 1980’s; denturitry was not tolerated by the dental community and any avenue for licensure or education was rejected by the legislature. Glen had seen his grandfather and father push tirelessly for this right. His father had advocated education and was graduated from the “Academy of American Denturists.” This program offered by Community College in Florida promised upon completion a degree in denturitry. However, with pressure from the American Dental Association, the college rescinded on rewarding the degree (these accredited hours were later accepted by Covenant College as transfer credits when his father pursued and earned his Bachelor’s Degree.) Yet, Glenn says, “My father’s attempt at opening the profession in Kentucky was met with harassment, threats and arrests.”
After graduating college and picking up the torch from his father, Glen continued the “pursuit for independence” in Kentucky. Glen, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science from Williamsburg College and a graduate of George Brown College receiving his diploma in denturitry is a licensed denturists in Maine, but Kentucky legislators have yet to recognize his profession giving him the freedom to serve unencumbered.
Glen’s talent with his willingness to serve is needed in the area of Kentucky where he chooses to have a denture clinic. He is serving patients in the 5th Congressional District in the Eastern part of Kentucky. This area which includes part of Appalachia has ranked the last among all 436 congressional districts in the health index of the American Human Development studies and investigation in this area has revealed the largest number of individuals needing dental care. (website of KFTC & MACED) Unfortunately, drug use is prevalent in these counties contributing to the dental crisis and so many people missing some if not all of their natural teeth. Recent studies have indicated over 65% of the population in this district have some or all of their teeth missing. (NYT – In Kentucky’s Teeth, Toll of Poverty & Neglect) The dental needs in this area are at a critical level and are not being met by the dental community. Kentucky has been listed by the Department of Health and Human Services as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area, meaning residents often cannot find or afford a dentist. According to a report in the New York Times, Kentucky is among the worst states nationally in the proportion of low-income residents served by free or subsidized dental clinics, and less than a fourth of the state’s dentists regularly take Medicaid, Denturists, with a much lower overhead than what may be in a traditional dental office, are more apt to serve Medicaid, or low income patients. The reports continue: A report in The Courier Journal (Deborah Vetter; 2/25/2016) Kentucky has a high rate of adults over 65 who have had all their natural teeth extracted. About 25% of such adults have no teeth, making Kentucky the fifth worst in the nation. Many people have trouble getting access to a dentist. This report said four counties have no dentists, 13 have only one dentists and 12 have only two dentists. The need is dire.
Glen accepts referrals from a community benevolent organization, Come-UNITY-Cooperative Care (CCC), endeavoring to help these individuals and is rewarded by “thank you” notes from patients who have been able to secure jobs and “turn their life around” after having their confidence and smile return. Glen is also a provider for Isaiah House, a state-licensed Alcohol and Other Drug Entity (AODE) and a state-licensed Behavioral Health Service Organization (BHSO) treatment center for young men. In 2015, Isaiah House became one of the few treatment centers in the state of Kentucky to achieve national accreditation by Joint Commission and are recognized for providing a gold standard of quality care to their clients. Glen says helping these young men who have lost their natural teeth due to the consequences of drug use is most rewarding.
So Glen continues to ask the question, “What is the problem. With this evidence of need and the exemplary service denturists offer in other states and countries around the world, why would anyone contest our willingness to serve in Kentucky?” He goes on to say, “We’ve been surveilled, arrested, inspected, sued, and continually harassed, and the “powers that be” are targeting those of us who hold a denturist license apparently fearing we are the greatest threat to the dental monopoly they control. Those of us lobbying or bringing public attention to the situation are especially targeted and the dentists who value our contribution and work with us are also being harassed putting their license in jeopardy.”
However, Glen says they are not giving up. This harassment has only generated a greater determination. In fact, he assures that they are “on a roll” in Kentucky and working with an attorney believes their quest will be won soon; they are pursuing several tactics. Glen’s attorney is quoted, “ Kentucky needs denturists; they are denture specialists. Establishing the denturist profession in Kentucky will be a major step in addressing the dental crisis created by the increasing fees being charged by dentists contributing to the lack of access to affordable denture services. I am confident we will be successful.”
Glen says, even with years fighting there is no gloom and doom affirming he has made a good living and has been rewarded. “Sometimes a great set of teeth makes all the difference and helps generate a positive future for an individual; I’ve learned a lot about compassion and how to help someone who is broken. A reward can’t get much better than that. I feel that God has put me in Southeastern Kentucky, the capital of edentulous people of the United States, for a reason. Not only to help the unfortunate but to change the unjust law so more people can be served.” Glen goes on to say that most of the dentists he has worked with have been the best people anyone would want to meet, “I’ve established some of the best friendships a guy could ever want.”
Glen is one who actually does what he professes. He has been an active member of the National Denturist Association, USA (NDA, USA) serving on the Board of Directors for several years. He continues to serve the board as a Regional Chairperson being the liaison between denturists and denturists students in the southeastern states and the NDA, USA Board of Directors.
His sincerity is evident when he says, “I’ve enjoyed serving on the NDA, USA Board of Directors with some great people; the talent, professional wisdom and unselfish service of our members are a model the dental associations should follow. I am appreciative of the denturist education which progressed my professional journey. Denturists pioneers have fought a Goliath, have suffered unquestionable abuse, yet they are motivated and determined to continue to fight for our profession. When I received my ruby red slippers of licensure, my path is made easier; lobbying is easier and my argument is impenetrable. We will have our recognition in Kentucky.”
Glen stays busy in his clinic and his family is involved. His wife serves as his Office Manager and his three children have all helped as most denturists “kids” have. Whether one of them is ready to “carry on the 4th generation” tradition is yet to be determined.
Glen encourages anyone that has an artistic “flair” to consider a career as a denturist. Educational opportunities are available for beginning a rewarding career. Glen’s advice, “The opportunity is there and should be seized upon!”