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Courses the PNDC Committee Won't Miss

Each year, the Committee on PNDC scouts dental conferences across the country to find the most relevant and interesting speakers for the Pacific Northwest Dental Conference. It can be tricky work, as scouts typically only stay for 25 to 30 minutes of a lecture, gauging a speaker’s worthiness by attendance, course content, lecture delivery, and the number of attendees remaining at the end. 

Fortunately, PNDC committee members will often recommend speakers whom they’ve heard at study clubs and at other conferences or meetings, where they’ve attended the full lecture. For this two-part series, we reached out to committee members Dr. Joseph Luchini, Dr. Chris Lee, and Midge Carstensen, RDH, to find out which PNDC speakers they’re excited about this year, and why. 

Dr. Joseph Luchini · An established dentist’s perspective

Dr. Joseph Luchini chose three speakers for this story: Karen Baker, MS, who will speak about “Advances in Dental Pharmacology”; Dr. Frank Milnar, whose lecture is titled “The Illusion of Esthetics With Composite”; and Dr. Gregory Folse, who will discuss “Difficult Denture Patients: Real-World Solutions.” Luchini says, “I have seen Ms. Baker in Spokane two times. Her lecture will focus on the way medications affect the mouth, and she’ll make it very dental-specific.” Baker’s intended audience will be dentists and hygienists, says Luchini, who likes the way she covers the gamut of products. “She’ll cover topics like high blood pressure medications and how they can affect the mouth, but she’ll also talk about everyday products such as mouthwashes and toothpaste,” he says. “She’s very knowledgeable and a wonderful lecturer, and I’ve always been able to use content from her lecture right away.”

When we asked Luchini why he thought a lecture on difficult denture patients was pertinent in today’s image-obsessed society, he was quick to respond, saying, “Dr. Folse’s lecture is pertinent because not everyone can afford implants. Dentures are still needed in the community, and it’s important to be proficient at it, even though a lot of the work is done by denturists.” As he pointed out, denturists cannot touch teeth, and if a dentist can work from start to finish with patients who need dentures, they may be more satisfied with the outcome. “I may charge more upfront for a set of dentures, but I put a lot of time and effort into a patient. And while a denturist may be able to fabricate a set of dentures more quickly and economically, it’s a la carte after that. They charge for any adjustments and changes, and that can add up quickly. As a dentist fabricating a set of dentures, all that work is included.” As for the value of this course for young dentists, Luchini says, “Young dentists can absolutely benefit from this because you never know who is going to walk into your office. Not everyone can afford an implant, and your patient may only be able to afford a denture. It is better to be willing and comfortable to offer the service to the patient. It’s a time-consuming process, but Dr. Folse can show us ways to make it less so.”

Luchini is really excited about Milnar’s esthetics lecture because, as he says, “Anterior composites are something we all need to do, and we all want to do better. Anyone can fill a hole, take a color out of our little box and stick it in, and have it look pretty close to the natural color of our patient’s teeth, but the real goal is to make that restoration disappear. The best work simply can’t be seen. We can give patients back something they have lost, and it’s much more economical than a veneer or a crown. There’s some really phenomenal work being done out there, and Dr. Milnar can show you techniques to deliver outstanding results.”

Learn more about Dr. Luchini's course picks:

Dr. Chris Lee · Through a young dentist’s eyes

Dr. Chris Lee has been practicing dentistry for a little more than four years, and we were keen to discern what he is most interested in this year. The needs of recent grads are much different than those of someone who has been practicing for decades, he says, adding, “I have school loans. I own my practice now, but I have been an associate, so I understand the pressures that young dentists are living with. I bring the perspective of a young dentist to the committee. I see through the eyes of my peers.”

Lee knows that his colleagues have many different resources for CE. “The PNDC is about convenience and good education. You can get nearly all the CE you need in one place, in one weekend. Between the cost, the convenience, and the quality of the lectures that are available, it’s a great deal,” he says. “Also, dentistry can get lonely, and it’s nice to be a part of organized dentistry and attend a conference with peers and colleagues who are going through the same thing.”

Lee is most interested in these lectures: Dr. Karl Koerner’s “New & More Efficient Ways to Perform Difficult Extractions”; Dr. Rob Lowe, “ Simplifying Posterior Composites”; and Dr. John Nosti’s “Staging Comprehensive Treatment.” He calls Lowe’s lecture “bread and butter,” explaining, “It’s easy to think there isn’t more to learn, so we only practice and improve the techniques we learned in dental school. Since a majority of our time is spent doing posterior composites, learning new and better techniques can minimize a lot of stress, and save a lot of time.” Lee scouted Koerner and Lowe at the Yankee dental conference last January, saying, “They’re both great speakers, and I like their subject matter immensely. It’s not just good content and educational, but their delivery really caught the audience’s attention.” As for Nosti’s lecture, Lee notes that coursework on practice management topics like effective treatment planning often play second fiddle to clinical studies in dental school. He explains, “John Nosti’s lecture on treatment planning is something that every dentist needs. As we get out of dental school and learn more skills, we add more types of dentistry to our practice, which makes presenting treatment plans more complex. This lecture not only benefits dentists, but patients as well, by teaching us how to clearly explain how a treatment plan will benefit patients and help them stay healthy.”

Learn more about Dr. Lee's course picks: 

Midge Carstensen, RDH · A voice for hygienists

Midge Carstensen is a hygienist who serves on the Committee on PNDC to help choose the best educators for dental staff attendees, and we’re happy to have her on board. She’s thrilled to recommend Kathy Bassett, RDH, and her lecture “Complimentary and Alternative Local Anesthesia.” Carstensen says, “Do you want to improve your local anesthetic skills? Who doesn’t! Kathy Bassett is a master in technique, and she’s an amazing clinician to learn from. You’ll leave knowing that on Monday morning you can immediately apply these skills with confidence. She’s an amazing lecturer.” Carstensen also recommends Dr. Timothy Hempton’s lecture called “Implant Therapy and the RDH.” She says, “Learning from Dr. Hempton is a privilege for all dental professionals, especially hygienists. He is a periodontist and a clinical professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and was a close colleague of Esther Wilkins for many years before her passing last December. Dr. Hempton works with hygienists on better understanding the overall management of dental implant therapy maintenance. He will be discussing anatomical concerns, surgical failures, and the role biofilms play in complications.”

Learn more about these great course choices for hygienists: 

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Not registered for PNDC? Be sure you get the Early Bird rate by registering before April 28. WSDA Member dentists save $100 by registering early, and staff members save $60. Visit and register today!

2017 Pacific Northwest Dental Conference
Conference: June 15-17, Exhibits: June 15-16
Bellevue, WA

Pricing (Early Bird rates, ends April 28)

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