Feb 20 / Dr. Dennis Hartlieb

Ep. 57 & 58: Interview with Dr. Robert Margeas


Due to technical difficulties, some parts of this episode may be difficult to hear. The complete interview transcript can be read below. We apologize for the inconvenience!


About the Sharecast 

In this two-part episode, our host Dr. Dennis Hartlieb and guest Dr. Robert Margeas discuss Robert's background, getting started in dentistry, his journey through dental school, and his career as comprehensive restorative and implant dentist at his own private practice in Iowa.

Check out Dr. Robert Margeas private practice here.

In part one of this episode, you'll hear:

3:29 How Dr. Hartlieb and Dr. Margeas met in Chicago
5:31 Why did Dr. Margeas pursue dentistry?
8:34 From waitlisted, to accepted at Iowa State
16:41 Changes in today's dental education 
20:33 How the AIDS epidemic affected dentistry
26:44 First porcelain veneer case in 1986
29:27 Mentorship with Dr. Bob Nixon and Dr. Buddy Mopper
34:31 The importance of repetition and feedback in dentistry

In part two of this episode, you'll hear:

2:00 No shortcuts in dentistry
6:08 How can great communication bring success?
7:08 Dr. Margeas gets fired from his second associateship
8:58 Becoming a scientific advisor at the Kois Center
11:59 Taking occlusion courses with Bob Nixon
12:54 Completing 500 hours of CE out of dental school
16:58 Prioritizing patient needs over financial goals
24:41 Learning from your peers instead of making it a competition

Interview Transcript

Dennis H: Hello, dental online trainers. It's Dr. Dennis Hartlieb. Back with another wonderful episode of our Sharecast with a dear dear friend of mine. Someone I've known for most of my professional career, a great great dentist, Dr. Bob Margeas. Bob is a graduate of the University of Iowa. He's a Hawkeye from from 1986 I believe. And then he did an AEGD residency program afterwards. Bob is, if you don't know Bob its about it's time to roll out of that rock that you're hiding underneath because Bob's everywhere he is. He really is, I think, really the face of our contemporary dentistry for a good reason. Bob's one of the hardest working people, individuals in dentistry that I've known over my career, the most humble person, I can tell you that I've met over my career in dentistry over the 30 plus years. He has tons of accolades. He is a member of the American Academy of restorative dentistry, the Academy of American Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry. He is are you I think a fellow of the operative dentistry master of operative dentistry, and he is publisher for a number of journals that we'll talk about in just a little bit. But he he keeps his nose to the grindstone. He's an incredible practitioner and incredible lecturer and just a dear dear friend. So without further ado, Bob Margeas just welcome to our Sharecast!

Robert M: Thank you Dennis. As you know, we're finally getting it done you we've been trying to get this done. Oh, and we found some time to do it. And in honor of you go blue. There we

Dennis H: So celebrating Michigan's national championship in football for all your Buckeyes out there. Eat it. And all you cheating scandal people.. I don't want to hear about it. It was great. So if you're not a football fan, you're just gonna have to deal with me just gloating for a couple seconds here. Well, just reveling in our wonderful victory over Washington Huskies just a couple of days ago. Bob, thank you for supporting the Michigan he's his stepson goes to the University of Michigan and so he's he's he's now drinking the amazing blue kool aid so it's Glad to have you on the and the party bus. 

Robert M: I’ve being a hawkeye all my life. So when when Nick started out at Ross, I decided you know what? I'm gonna have to be a blue fan. So I am, maze and blue?

Dennis H: Yeah, maize and blue. 
Yeah. So it's good to have you on board.

Robert M: Thank you so much. Thanks for the comments. 

Dennis H: In 100% truth and from the heart. So I met Bob so many of you know that I was partnered with Dr. Buddy Mopper who started cosmedent decades ago. And buddy and cosmedent started a teaching center in downtown Chicago. And early on when the teacher center was first built, I was down there taking a look at the teaching center and visiting and in should walk this fella who was about my age, my my years of experience a little more bold than I was sort of about a listening head and then walks Bob Margeas and introduces himself and was just so open and was just just so just generous with his time and was just so welcoming. When I when I first met Bob, I don't know, Do you remember that day Bob when we met at cosmedent? 

Robert M: I sure do remember it. Over 25 years ago.

Dennis H: It was 25 years ago, Yeah, we're both young dentists back then remember that? 

Robert M: Both learning from the master.

Dennis H: We were both learning from the master. That's exactly right. Dr. Buddy Mopper. So Bob, so fill in the blanks. What did I not fill in with your background? So University of Iowa for for dental school, where did you go for your undergraduate?

Robert M: I went two years to Iowa State. I was a cyclone for a couple years then I ended up going to Iowa for one and I I was fortunate to be able to be accepted to Iowa after my after three years. So my my freshman year counted as my as my senior year or so I could get done in in seven versus eight. And so that's how I decided to attend the University of Iowa.

Dennis H:Yeah, I did the same looking back I get it. I don't know what I was thinking. I may have missed out, you know, I still have a year of eligibility and I'm trying to get on the Michigan team. So I don't know. But it was, I think sometimes rushing through undergrad. I mean, it was great. I was great. So grateful to get into dental school. But looking back at it, sometimes you got to think about what's the rush. Now neither of your neither of your parents are dentists. You don't come from a family of dentists. So talk about your background, what'd your parents do? And I want to know about why dentistry? 

Robert M: Yeah, that's a great you know, my parents were in the restaurant business, you know, being Greek and all my, my grandfather came from Greece opened up a Coney Island back in 1980. And my father and his brother, worked in the shop, ended up opening a couple of their own restaurants. And I have a twin brother that went into business. And I didn’t want to do restaurant I started working from the time were 12 Till, till about 18. And when I went off to college, I knew that I just didn't want to be in the restaurant business, its a good business, but you got to be there. 

Dennis H: It’s a hard business. So the only thing I've done besides dentistry is restaurant work and restaurant work is I mean, I loved it. I love the service aspect of it. But man, it is hard, hard work.

Robert M: It really is. And so I decided that I was going to do something different. So I was a biology major at Iowa State. And after a couple years, I was thinking about medicine, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I didn't know for sure what, you know, career path I want to but I wanted to go in some into the like health field section. And after two years that Iowa state my roommate was was transferring to Iowa to go into medicine. I thought, well, maybe I should be at Iowa. It's more. I will say it's more engineering. So I went over there. And while I was over there, one of my other fraternity brothers was, was in dental school, started in dental school. And so he says you should come over to be a dentist.

Dennis H: Do I know your fraternity brothers?

Robert M: I don't think you would know him. His name is Dennis winter, Dennis winter is his name. And he was going to dental school and says you want to come over to the dental school. So you may be like this, I went over there. And I thought, wow, this is this is kind of interesting. This is me. And he said, Well, they're the DAT, you want to sign up for the DAT. And you know, I didn't know much about it. And so I had contacted, you know, the school and the DAT and they said, Well, you're a little bit late. But if you show up for the for the for the day of the DAT if someone doesn't show up, we'll we'll let you take the test. And so I showed up at that time and and somebody didn't show up, I started taking the test, I took the test. I did okay. And that was the year that I was going to be in the Rose Bowl. And it was December applications. Were due like December and they were picking the class this and that. And I decided to drive out to the Rose Bowl. So I didn't even get my app in really. And when I got back from the Rose Bowl in January, I sent my application in Dennis.

Dennis H: All right. 

Robert M: And and and so I waited.. 

Dennis H: Did you put put on your application like Sorry, it's a little late. I was busy. Busy watching the hawkeyes at the Rose Bowl.

Robert M: Yeah, you know, I didn't say that. But I probably could have said that because I had an interview at the university. They gave me an interview. And unfortunately, I was waitlisted. And and they said you're not accepted that class but you're waitlisted and because you're only a junior in the summer, you're going to have to take to qualify to get admitted, if you get admitted you got to take physics physics lab. So I had to take like six hours like in the summer to have the ability to be admitted. So now I went to the I went to the administrator's office and said hey, you know, I don't know if I really want to work that this summer if I don't have a chance to get into dental school, and she says to me her name was Janet Crowe. She says to me I can't tell you what number you are on the waitlist. But my recommendation would be that you take summer school and so here I am taking summer school, and July comes around August comes around I had not heard well school was starting like August 23. Well, once school started Dennis I get the letter it says you're accepted to dental school.

Dennis H: That's crazy. So had you signed up for classes for fall at Iowa? For your senior year? 

Robert M: Yeah, yeah, I planned on senior year taking classes and Um, all of a sudden the letter comes to Sioux City, Iowa, where I was, after some, like I got in, I guess I'm going to be a Dentist. Dennis. I never grew up thinking I was going to be a dentist. And I will be honest with you, if I did not get in that year. I mean, I may not have applied again, and I'm not even kidding you. Yeah, because it wasn't like I desired to be a dentist, I really never grew up thinking I was gonna be a dentist.

Dennis H: I think its so interesting in all these sharecasts. It's such a range of people, people like myself that knew they want to be a dentist when they were kids to people who in you know, for whatever influence it was, it was someone that they knew as a friend or so in some contact that said, hey, why don’t you look at dentistry, and then next thing, you know, they're they become a dentist and they become a one of our leaders in dentistry. It's it's such a crazy, you know, hear Frank spear story of being dragged to the counselor's office. And, you know, there's it's just one after the next I think it's so interesting how people end in dentistry

Robert M: it is, and you know, I just can't imagine my life, not being a dentist, right? And not growing up wanting to be a dentist. And I will tell you Dennis that dental school was so cool and influential, that when I was able to donate back to the school, I was given money, they go, What do you want the money to go for? I want to go to the Janet Crowe, radiology center. And so this was the best. I gave them money. They put the big plaque on and I tell her, I said because of you I'm a dentist. Well, her mom was visiting her. And they walked around, saw that, and her mom saw it, because I don't think she had told her mother about it. Because she would at that time was probably in her 60s her Mom, had to be in her 80’s. She goes by the room. And her mom just stopped and was like, so happy. And it brought a a warm feeling to me when Janet wrote me a letter and told me the story about it.

Dennis H: it sounds awesome. 

Robert M: So it was really great. 

Dennis H: Yeah, that's what it's all about. That's so cool. I bet your parents must have just so what was your reaction when you decide to become a dentist? So I mean, I commend my parents were both sort of blue collar came from blue collar family and stuff like that. And I think they were, you know, so, so proud. And, you know, very, you know, very, you know, just very proud of me going into the profession and stuff. What were what was it like for your folks?

Robert M: Yeah, nobody, nobody had gone into medical or dental mission, everybody was my sister was interior design. My mother went into business. And nobody went into the family restaurant until my brother did. And so they were really proud, like, Oh, we're gonna have dentists in the family and blah, blah, blah. And I will tell you that when we grew up, you know, we were middle class. I mean, my dad had a hot dogs restaurant, you know, the Coney Island, but he always made ends meet. And my mom always said to me, when you become a dentist, she says, You need to remember the people that need the work because Dr. Barnes, our family dentist, he was one of the last ones to get paid, because we didn't have our money and he let us have a payment plan. Yeah. And so I always remembered my mom saying that. And so I'm a little bit lenient as far as that goes, you know, and we do. You know, maybe we don't get paid for but but it's fun. And my mom being the kind of a spiritual person would always say, god gave you the hands to do this. You have to take care of the people and, and I do believe like you Dennis, I know you that when you're not motivated by money, if you just do the right thing. You're gonna be successful. You're gonna be successful.

Dennis H: You You started out at Iowa dental school. What was it? Like when you first walked into the school? Do you have any memories your first few days at the school?

Robert M: I sure do. Going into the school it was it was harder than before as a new school, or I started in 1982. So it was a it was a modern school. And the thing about Iowa was you went to the clinics right away. And so freshman year you at the end of your freshman year, you were doing like prophies and doing scaling and root planing. And then at the beginning of your sophomore year, you actually had operative dentistry.

Dennis H: Wow, you're lucky you're ahead of most schools.

Robert M: Yep, we were and I still remember we started operative as as sophomores. And I remember my first patient was the distal lingual groove on number 14 And I was very nervous and I opened it up and it's got some of that leathery decay and I'm very timid and my personnel assistant

Dennis H:Looks like you're already in the pope when you see that right. 

Robert M: Exactly right. And Taylor goes Come on, just clean that out. You know, that's not that's that's decay. The nerves not right there. So I cleaned it out I did the restoration and Taylor was, you know, really guiding me, you know great student. Fast forward 25 years I’m at Utah State Dental Association and, and I knew too Taylor was practicing in Utah. And I said to the guy who introduced me, I said, Is there gonna Is there a guy named Taylor World that is a member? Here he goes, Yeah, in fact, he's in the back over there. And I saw him and I recognized him, but he was kind of looking at me like you want to call up and talk to you. But I was avoiding him, because I wanted to share the story of Taylor. So when I started, I wanted to thank everybody I said, and it's a special treat because my I have my first dental assistant here in the audience. And I'm sure people thought it was like a female or something. Right, right, right today, and his name is Taylor World. He's in the back right there. And this smile, and we ended up hooking up for lunch and talk I told this story about how he is my dental assistant. And it was just a gas. It was so much fun. Dentistry has been just a fun career. 

Dennis H: That's awesome. That's a great story. 

Robert M: Yeah. 

Dennis H: When when you're going through dental school, we were all having different experiences. And I think back in the 80s and certainly before then, Dental school was different was different than than I think it is now. At least the way people educate, the people, the way people communicate. How was it going through through Iowa was what was your undergrad experience within dental school? 

Robert M: Yeah, the dental school was was great. I felt we got a great education. And I feel like education today, could I still teach I've been teaching there now since 1990. Education has changed when we went through dental school. It was mainly porcelain fused to metal, and gold, gold and amalgam. Yeah, and now today, what we have to teach is, is so many different materials, so many different techniques now scanning and implants, that there's not as much time really, to incorporate all of that, you know, with dentures, partials, you know, Iowa was very, very clinically oriented. And the way that they did it was after your sophomore year, your junior year, you would go through blocks, and you would have maybe six weeks in pedo, six weeks, and in operative, or eight weeks, and then you'd go into removal process, and then fix process. And then you'd have a block of Endo, then you'd have oral surgery. So all those were sub specialties, you would just spend time in it. And then your senior year in Family Dentistry is when they put it all together, where you did comprehensive treatment, and you could do what you wanted to do. And so I would back then it was a really, really clinically oriented, one of the top schools all the time. I still think it's a good school, a very big research base school, Dallas, Dallas research and stuff like that. Was it fun? It was difficult. I had a difficult time dentistry it wasn't a cakewalk for me. 

Dennis H: Yeah, same. You know, I say, for us back then we had to learn an inch of material a mile deep. Today's students have to learn a mile material, but they can only learn in an inch deep because there's so much they need to learn materials are changing. So, so frequently. And I think it's for us, I think we were we had the advantage that we had multiple reps doing the same procedures over and over and over. So I think we had a fair amount of confidence coming out of school. I think it's difficult for students today because they get so few reps, because there's so many different techniques, so many different materials that they got to become familiar with. I think it's way more challenging for students today than when we were in the fact that amount of information that they have to they have to learn. But that's sort of I think, the nature nature of practice as well. I mean, dentistry is just so accelerated that every, every year there's new materials, and I want to talk about that in a few minutes. Because I know you're you're really on top of all that stuff. But I think that's a real challenge for students today. And I and I don't envy them. I think it's it's tough to get on top of all that stuff. 

Robert M: No, and I and listen, I hired a dentist right out of dental school. With all my experience in doing these people all my buddies were like, Man, why are you hiring somebody right out of dental school? Well, he was a patient of mine since the time he was three years old. And and he has he has a great personality, great work ethic. But I will tell you that he has done zero dentures in my practice, he hasn't done maybe one partial, they never did cast gold they never learned cast gold and Dental school. And you know, I think it's kind of a shame because some of those techniques I mean, if you can't do a denture How are you supposed to be doing all on X you need to understand occlusion by doing dentures that's where we learned occlusion

Dennis H: Smile design, you know smile design with doing dentures.

Robert M: Exactly. And so I think there's they're a little bit behind the all in now that you know, some of the teachings to like kois and spear and panky and stuff are now having to maybe teach some of the things that we learned more in dental school, you know, but we I learned that when we didn't wear gloves. Yeah, we just started wearing gloves. Maybe the next year you remember that Dennis?

Dennis H: So I was in so I'm, I graduated in 88. So a couple of years behind you. And so when we're in pre clinic is when we started wearing gloves and I remember my instructors losing they're losing their minds over having to wear gloves. You don't some of these guys been practicing for 30-40 years and they just couldn't get the idea that they were gonna start wearing gloves. It was very interesting time for sure in Dentistry.

Robert M: Absolutely, no, no doubt about that. And that's when the AIDS epidemic came out. You know, which was scary for us.

Dennis H: You know, and I think that's so interesting. I have a my my eye doctor, he said, he's on the Illinois Board- for I always get ophthalmologists and optometrists, ophthalmologists, right. He's on the board. And he said, you know, we took the playbook when COVID hit, we took the playbook from dentistry for what you guys did during HIV. And that's just what we applied for when COVID hit. and for us, I mean, you know, we made some subtle changes to what we were doing in our dental practice. But everything that we're doing for HIV, I think completely protected us for the stuff that was going on during COVID. You know, we added air filtration. We did a couple other things. But, you know, we we learned some valuable lessons back then that I think have sort of paid off for us still still to this day with infection control. 

Robert M: Yeah, I agree. Totally, totally agree. We were way ahead of the curve there.

Dennis H: So when you're getting out of dental school, you decided to do a residency instead of jumping into private practice. What was that about?

Robert M: You know, I was going to join the Air Force. I told my buddy, I said, Hey, you know, we should join the Air Force together. Yeah, we're both single. And he goes, Okay, well, we're gonna go meet with Captain Stepnits. And he goes, in he goes, I don't know if I want to go in the Air Force. I said, But you know what, it's free pizza. They had a giovanno’s in Iowa city. I said, well just go have some pizza.

Dennis H: Fair enough. Spoken like a true student. Free food. 

Robert M: That's exactly right, free food. I remember like it was yesterday.

Dennis H: So you can get some more free food.

Robert M: That's right. And I remember like it was yesterday, that we go, we meet with him, and he says, Oh, you guys are good students, this and that. And I said, Well, I'd be interested in joining if I can get a GPR. But if I have to go in active and not have a GPR, then I'm not really interested. He goes, Well, he goes, you can apply for one. And, you know, we'll see what can happen. Well, I applied, Dan applied, neither one of us got the GPR in the Air Force. But Dan decided to go in the Air Force. And he stayed three years in the Air Force, I decided not to go in the Air Force. And the the director of the AEGD program said, Hey, we would love to have you stay here and do the AEGD program. Well, I remember at that time, the pay was $16,000.

Dennis H: I made $17,000 at my residency.

Robert M: $16,000? I said I'll take it. And so I stayed and that was a great year. That was a fabulous AEGD residency because they had let us do what we wanted to do. If you want to do Endo, you can do more Endo. You want to do surgery, you could do that. It was a great transition year for me.

Dennis H: Did you find I mean, for me, I did. I did GPR because I felt like I needed more time connecting the pieces, understanding more the relationship between, you know, restorative dentistry and ortho and Perio and trying to get all that stuff sort of figured out how all that sort of linked together. My residency didn't help me with that, because it was a GPR. So it's more hospital based. But it did feel good to get a lot more reps unde, and Michigan is less clinical than like Iowa, Detroit, some of the other schools in the Midwest. And so I felt like I needed to get more reps in. What were you looking for? Why do you feel like you needed to do a residency what was in it for you? 

Robert M: You know, what I felt like I was good. And from a clinical standpoint, I had done all of my requirements early, this and that, but and or, you know, there was a dentists in Des Moines that I really thought about wanting to go with, and he wasn't really ready for me to be an associate, you ought to do something else for a year, maybe perhaps it can work out that, you know, when you get done, because I'm not guaranteeing anything but do it. So I mainly did for the reps, like you said, and I wanted to follow- of the directors were prosthodontist. And I wanted to learn more, you know, some of the removable and comprehensive cases so I got a lot more training. And at that time, porcelain veneers were big. For me, Bob Nixon, who was one of my guys,

Dennis H: Yeah so, I wanted to talk about that because that's when you first saw Bob right? present? So for those who don't know, Bob Nixon was one of the pioneers in porcelain veneers. So Mark Freedman Bob, Bob Nixon, there were several others. But Bob was really on the cutting edge. And so talk about how Bob came into your life and for those who has since passed, but he was really influential and sort of prep design and so many other concepts with porcelain veneers. So talk about that a little bit.

Robert M: Yeah, you know, so during my residency, I was still on my residency at that time. And the director of my residency, said, you know, continuing education is super important. Is there some courses that you want to take? You know, let me know, and the reason why I'm a member of the Chicago Dental Society, and I haven't missed a Chicago midwinter meeting since 1986. I've gone every year since 1986, whether I spoke or was just a participant. Now, he sent us to the midwinter, so that's why I went but then brown dental lab in Davenport, Iowa was having a Beverly Hills dentist, Bob Nixon, Dr. Robert L. Nixon was putting on a veneer course. So he goes, I'm gonna send you there to learn how to do veneers because nobody was doing porcelain veneers at school at that time, and so he sent me there to learn from Bob Nixon. And when I came back. The Center for Clinical Studies was doing some porcelain studies, Jerry Dennehy and Daniel Chan. And they were doing, and Mark Jensen. They were doing clinical studies on ceramics and they said hey, find a case. And we'll do some porcelain veneers. So I remember doing my first case in 1986 Dennis, I had never done a porcelain veneer case. And I ended up doing this case live.

Dennis H: Oh my god.

Robert M: Live in front of 150 dentists and I listen, I'm a recent grad and let me tell you what, I'm in Cedar Rapids at the five seasons center they have a dental chair set up. The patient was a hygienist and I and I had prepped the teeth already and the veneers were made now I'm going to show them how to put the veneers on. So I tried to veneers on all the veneers fit, that I put them on the tray. My dental assistant puts the air water syringe on number 10 and breaks it.

Dennis H: Oh my god, oh my god.

Robert M: So I had never even done a temporary we didn't temporize back that dennis, when we prepped, We didn't even use anesthetic. You know, we wanted to know where the enamel was.

Dennis H: Yeah, stain enamel. 

Robert M: They knew it, and when I remember what you said Mark for Mark Freedman and Bob Nixon were they were the Guru's and their work today is standing the test of time right there. Their prep design, stain minimal prep and enamel people say Do you like minimal prep veneers or no prep veneers? I said well, I'm not a fan of prep less veneers. Really. I'm a fan of prep, less veneers, you know not prep less. So I did those veneers live and I ended up cutting them off a week later at the school because because I didn't like them, so I had to do them live. 

Dennis H: My God, I can't even imagine, I wouldn't even do that today. I'm sorry. You know that nothing could convince me to try and do that and split the bright lights and then the lights and materials. Oh my god, I can't imagine the sweat pouring off my head landed in the patient's face to do something like that. God bless you, boy. 

Robert M: Yes, I got my first start. 

Dennis H: Some big kahunas there. That's a that's a way to start out.

Robert M: I was too naive, probably. 

Dennis H: Well, yeah. You don't know what you don't know. Right? 

Robert M: That's right. Yep.

Dennis H: So that sort of led you to your connection with with Buddy Mopper, which is how you and I got together. Right. So talk about sort of your your relationship with with Bob Nixon, how that sort of developed. And, you know, I think this is an interesting thing, Bob, because we've talked about this before. Talk to me about how you connect with Bob Nixon, because I think it's important that other dentists hear this because I think this is important, if you want to if you want to connect with others, and so so talk talk a little bit about that. 

Robert M: Yeah, I'll talk about Bob first, then we'll get to buddy next. But Bob Nixon, so I took this course with Bob Nixon. And Bob was a great teacher. Bob was a fantastic mentor. If you had questions Bob Nixon was going to answer it, he's going to do the best he could Bob obviously, you know, was in Beverly Hills work with DaVinci dental studios and by trade, he was an endodontist and turned into being a cosmetic dentist. He started out as an endodontist for over 10 years in Delaware, and then moved on to be a work with Bob Ibson At denmat, He was one of the denmat guys originally, and then he went to DaVinci. But he took a liking to me. And so after that course, I kept in touch with him. And I would take more courses over the next few years. But that relationship led me to Buddy Mopper and Bob Nixon had said, Hey, there's Dentist buddy Mopper, who's close by you. He's doing composite resin. Well, buddy Mopper comes to Iowa to lecture at the State Dental meeting. And it was 1990. And I was out of school for four years. I had been doing some table clinics at the state meeting. And I remember my first table clinic was called etched porcelain restorations, they work and it was 19. It was 1987. And I had this board talking about maintain the enamel and bonded him on it. And at that time, a lot of the prosthodontics were saying you can bond that stuff on you got to use zinc phosphate cement and do crowns. You know, because veneers were not really, you know, mainstream at that time.

Dennis H: Yeah, I don't think people realize that that porcelain veneers didn't come out until the late 80s and didn't become popularized for to the mid 90s. Maybe towards the end of the 90s. So when we started our career, I mean porcelain veneers we're not we're not an option when I was starting I didn't even know about porcelain veneers back then.

Robert M: Yeah, you know, obviously the first was written by Calamia and Horn back in the early 80s. But nobody was really doing mainstream, like you said until late 80s 90s. And so, you know, Polly Doran, one of my mentors, he said, Hey, you're doing these veneers. You want to ought to do a table clinic. So I did a table clinic, and I got an honors clinic. So they invited me back the next year. Well, Buddy Mopper was lecturing. And I went up to Buddy Mopper And I said, Hey, I'm Bob Margeas. And Bob Nixon had told me about you. I grew up in Sioux City. He was Sioux City. He says I grew up in correctionville, which was 18 miles from Sioux City. I don't even know if you know this story, then. 

Dennis H: No, I don't.

Robert M: But he grew up in correctionville. And he says to me sioux city, he goes, Yeah, what do your parents do? I said, Well, my parents run the Coney Island restaurants in Sioux City, Iowa. Here's what the Coney Island restaurants he goes. When I would take my Hebrew lessons, he would take his Hebrew lessons, they drive the bus get on a bus from correctionville to Sioux City. And he would always stop at the Coney Island. That's hilarious.

Dennis H: That's crazy. That’s hilarious. 

Robert M: So my grandfather, who he knew, because he would go in there all the time. And my grandfather, he would he remember my grandfather, my grandfather was tall. And he always had a toothpick in his mouth, because he always smoked cigars. And he would want to break the cigar and he’d have a tooth pick. But, and Buddy would say, Oh, my God, I used to have the hot dogs all the time every week, but I go, we'd stopped at the Coney island because it was a few blocks from the Jewish Community Center. Right. So buddy took a liking to me. He was teaching classes and invited me to come to Chicago, you know, to at the to take some classes from them. So fast forward maybe, to that. I think it was a year or two after that, that I took my first course from him on composites. And the center wasn't open. But they were teaching it in the basement. Right? Oral and they had they it was like a like a room. And they had all the equipment there and Corky was teaching with him. And so I was in his first class with Brian Vince

Dennis H: Ahh, interesting.

Robert M: And yeah Vince was a great dentist. We took buddies first course. And I remember taking the course. And Dennis you know, buddy, he take a look at what your model you go, Oh, come on, look at this lining, or look at this or look at that. Nothing I did was any good. Yeah. And so I left there. Kinda a little bit dejected. But but not really because I had learned but I ended up taking the course again, about a year later when they were up in the in the actual teaching center. So I ended up taking buddy's class twice. And then by then I was learning a little bit and, you know, Buddy was giving people a little bit of a start and, you know, he took a liking to me.

Dennis H: I think that's important for when when you're going through this, I think there's a sense there can be there can be a sense that you take a class once and that you learn everything you need to know and that you're ready to roll. And I've taken buddy's class. I don't know how many times Newton's class Corky’s classes. I for me, I have to I have to learn I have to apply what I can get some more feedback. Take the course again, Get some more feedback. And that's how I built my skills is just, you know, being being willing to hear the negative, and being able to take just one step at a time and try to get a little bit better each time. But I think there is a false sense that you can learn everything unless you're remarkable. But that's certainly not me. In learning. I think it takes time to be able to hear the information and then adapt the information and then be able to clinically be able to produce it. So have some thick skin, be open to getting criticism, and welcome the criticism and understand that you have, I think it's important to rehear the information and re redo these workshops. I think that's critical.

Part 2:
Robert M: Oh, yeah, that’s something I admired about you, Dennis, you and I had talked about this. I was not the best clinician. I mean, I had good hands. But I wouldn't say I was a Newton Fahl by any means. 

Dennis H: Right. 

Robert M: I've had to train myself to get good in what you've been doing over the last several years where people can follow along with what you're doing and see what you're doing and play it over. And over. And over is when you get good. 

Dennis H: I think so.

Robert M: and you know, you know when you have that book that takes 10,000 hours to be an expert, I believe. I do believe that. 

Dennis H: Yep.I don't think there’s shortcuts unless unless you're just uniquely talented and gifted. I just don't I don't think there's a shortcut to it. I think it's just hard work and just repetition, at least for me

Robert M: Repetition.

Dennis H: At least for me, for many people that I that I trust and value and stuff, So.

Robert M: yeah, you know, and like he'll see me literally, after work, working on Denta forms and doing class fours still at my age. Dennis, why do I do this? Why are you doing this? You're so good. I said, I'll tell you why I do it. Because when you're doing it live in front of people, you got to make sure that you're continually keeping your skills up to be able to do it. Because I still screw up dennis, I could do a course and I still screw something up. And I was doing one at the kois and I was doing a live composite veneer, showing the layering showing the finishing pausing. And who was my dental assistant, John kois. So go blow air on my thing, and he's over my shoulder. You think I wasn't nervous? Then I get done doing the thing, and he goes “Yes. Oh, it's so beautiful.” And then I take the disc and I tried to open up the embrasure a little bit. And I opened the embrasure to much and John goes, “Man, I hate when that happens”. 

Dennis H: Yeah. It's so true. It's hard. You know, and I I think that's the other fallacy, Bob or one of the other fallacies dentistry is hard. And it drives me nuts when I hear people dentists say oh, dentistry is easy. I I can't think of a procedure that - look, You know, we're talking about doing tooth number 14 OL, I'm sorry. Doing any tooth in the back of the mouth is not easy, especially as we're getting older. But any cosmetic procedure? I mean, if you have any, I don't know managing lips, tongue. I mean, you know if you're placing rubber dams, getting those getting isolation proper just working in somebody's mouth. There's nothing easy about it. I think. I don't know. I'd not, no build 35 years later. I still don't find anything easy about doing dentistry. I think it's always so, I don't chitchat when I'm doing dentistry. I gotta concentrate. This is still you know, this still work.I love it but its still work.

Robert M: I still get nervous. Dennis. I still if I'm seating 10 veneers? Do I like it? No, I hate it.
I hate it. 

Dennis H: Stressful, stressful.. 

Robert M: Am I gonna get a little bleed if I put the etch on, am I gonna get any bleeding when I put the adhesive on it? It's gonna, after I get these on, are they going to is the last one gonna fit? You know? Because I'm not the one who puts all of them on at one time it does attack and we do it the old way I learned from Bob. And let me tell you what, it's hard work. Are we compensated well? Well, yes. But it's hard work. Very hard work. 

Dennis H: It's hard work. It's great work. It's hard work, it’s rewarding work. I think we're very fortunate to be in the profession that we are at the time we are with all the innovations and all the materials. I think we're just super blessed. But it's I don't think there's anything easy about it. Nothing at all.

Robert M: You know, and I will tell you this, then it's one thing to0, the kids are coming out of school are expecting to make $150 to $250,000 and I remember getting out of school, having no money in debt, I had an associateship that was terrible. In fact, I'm going to give you a one minute story. My first associateship here in Des Moines, I was taking a draw of $1050 every two weeks, so I was taking $2,100 a month against future earnings. When he fired me, after 12 months, I had made $1050 every two weeks, I owed him $3,000 What I left, because my draw was more than what he had paid what I had earned. I had no money, And the guy says to me, this is a great story, a guy says, good luck in Dentistry, your job is not to be friendly with your patients, been talking to him this and that your job is to sell the dentistry and do the treatment planning and blah, blah, blah. And he says, I don't think you're gonna have a hard time with it. Well, the story, this is a great story, because to me, you can be the best clinician, but if you don't have communication, you will not be successful. Some of the most successful dentists I know dentists may not have the best hands. Yep. But they can communicate. Would you agree with that? 

Dennis H: Without question, you know, the the old saying those who can do those who cannot teach those who cannot teach, administrate? I'd like to think that we can teach in can do also. But it's it is another another fallacy and dentistry is not just about what you can do. It's how you communicate, it's communicating with your patients, communicating with your team, collaborating with your specialists. All that stuff is about helping patients be able to get the type of dentistry that's right for them. And, you know, there's so much that goes into that, and so much of my learning has been beyond just doing the dentistry but learning how to communicate with patients so that I it's not about me, it's about them, and helping sort of guide them through the treatment that's right for them.

Robert M: Without question.I agree. I left one story out because that was my second associateship. My first associateship was in Iowa City. And I was working at River City Dental Care. And this was unbelievable. The hours were 8am to 9pm, Monday through Friday, eight to five on Saturday, and noon to five on Sunday. Pretty open seven days a week. So it was me and another guy. So if I was working, Dennis, I was working half those days. And then I would work if it was my turn and have to work the next Monday through Friday. So I would have 12 days on think about this 12 days on two days off. It was crazy. So he says, Hey, I know this gal you're dating. She was a cheerleader at the time. He says she needs some fillings. He says Don't give her a discount. I'm thinking to myself, why would I not give her a discount that and so she comes in, I do like an MO on 18. And I gave her like 20% discount. It comes in the next day and he goes, Hey, did you give her a discount? I said, Yeah, I gave her 20% off. He said, I told you not to give her a discount. So he fired me. So now I don't have a job. I come to Des Moines, I take that other job, the $1050 every two weeks. So after a year, I get fired from that job. So now I'm a two time loser. And so so I'm thinking to myself now what am I going to do great associateship for about I was an independent contractor from 1989 to 2001, where I took a percentage of everything that I did, but I didnt buy my first practice till 2001. So I was working 15 years as an Associate. Yeah. Dennis, back in 07 or 08 kois makes me his scientific advisor for adhesives and composites at the kois center. So now I'm at that. And he's starting out the program and he says I'd like to announce our new scientific advisors. Well, in the audience was the dentist who fired me turns around and looks at me like oh my god, what are you doing here? Because I hadn't seen him. And so he's thinking, I had to get to be like, what what is going on? Because he was a good dentist. So at the break, Dennis. I'm talking to a group of dentists. He comes up to me, and he puts his arm around me and he goes to the guys and says, “Dr. Margeas was my first associate.” And I go, Oh, really? Yes, I was. And I said, Let me tell you the story guy took a draw against future earnings of $1050 every two weeks, and when I left him, I owed him three grand and I paid you back every penny. This guy felt like two inches tall.

Dennis H: It's you know, what goes around comes around, right?

Robert M: You can't make that story up. It's just a crazy thinking here I'm gonna be a loser. I ended up being successful. And now I'm working for kois. I mean, come on. It's amazing.

Dennis H: How do you get started with kois? What was, what was your introduction to kois? And all their other learning? 

Robert M: Yeah,I'll tell you. I had taken spear, one class when they were together. And then when the-

Dennis H: It was the, Creating restorative excellence a CRE Course

Robert M: And that's when they talked about all function, biology, aesthetics, they had their, their curriculum, which they're both amazing instructors. I mean, when John had opened up the kois center, he was teaching all the courses. So I went out there with Bob Nixon. And, and then, John, a few years later, John Durango goes, Margeas, would you want to teach courses with Buddy Mopper, maybe you want to do a composite course at the kois center.

Dennis H: So I want to interrupt for one second because John Durango, he's he was a dentist from Illinois. And when I first took Spears first course out at the spear center in when back in Seattle, when Frank opened up his office, who should be at the bar, the first night before the meeting that I go to get a get a bite to eat is John Durango. And I met John Durango there for the very first time. And so that's funny that that name comes up as someone that was right there when you were taking kois’ courses. So hello, John, if you're out there.

Robert M: Yeah, Durango is the best. He’s a dentist who's just so humble, low key, he's got more knowledge in that brain of his, I mean, he's amazing. Amazing individual.

Dennis H: Yes, he is. So anyhow, so I hate to interrupt, but I couldn't let that pass. So alright, so you're so you, you take in you're taking kois with Bob Nixon, which I think is just incredible. Bob's taking that course. And you're taking the course. What was what was that like taking, taking that early course with a-

Robert M: It was, it was great, because Bob, Bob felt like he needed occlusion. Bob was an aesthetic guy, but never really had occlusion course,

Dennis H: because he was an endodontist. 

Robert M: He was endodontist. Yeah, that's right. So when we went out to take the course we decided to take it together. So we took occlusion one and two together. And we felt really great about it. I mean, you're never you think you know, everything is when you think you know everything. You really don't You don't know what you don't know. And I thought I had a good background, but I took those courses and I'd recommend any of those courses to people who are listening that want to get better. Yeah. Dennis, back to this. When I got out of dental school, I had no money, zero money. But my first five years out of dental school. I lived in an apartment, had a crappy old car. And I had 500 hours of CE, That's 500. And I became an AGD fellow five years after graduating from dental school the fast you can do it as you have to be a member for five years, you got to have 250 hours of ce I had 500 hours of CE and so that that, that if somebody came in and needed an implant, I could do it. Somebody needed direct composite veneers. I could do it if somebody needed porcelain, I could do it. I didn't have any money. But I had the knowledge. So I spent my money on CE.

Dennis H: Yeah I did the same I lived in a basement apartment in Chicago i Everything was I remember the first course I took the Spear it took me a year to pay that off on my credit card. The first time I went to the Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry meeting it was in Aspen, Colorado. I couldn't I mean, I was like, I mean first of all was just seeing all these incredible dentists that were there but beyond that, just like like try to find the cheapest place to eat and Aspen are proud of. And yeah, I mean everything everything I made was put towards CE and I drove my my buddy gave me his old car because I couldn't afford to buy a car that car literally caught on fire when I was driving to work one day. Yeah, it's, you know, the sacrifices. They're part of, of part if you if you don't have the, the, if you don't have the luxury of having financial opportunity, then it's just gonna take a little more grit in in the question is, are you able to are you willing to do what it takes and what the understanding what's the end game? The end game for me was like you I wanted to learn to be a good dentist. I just want to learn from the best so I could. So one day maybe I could be good. And that's I did the same as what you did. There was but it was a great journey, and I wouldn't I wouldn't do it any different if I had the opportunity

Robert M: No, no and you didn't live in a basement apartment it was a garden level apartment.

Dennis H: A gray, it was a graystone up in Andersonville in Chicago and banging pipes above my head, I didn't have a bed I was sleeping on a futon, my desk was a door I found in the alley and had milk crates for the legs. Just was what it was, you know? 

Robert M: No. And let me tell you, that was the best money I spent. So if you're graduating from dental school, and you're already 250, 300,00 in debt you mind as well borrow the 50 and go to Courses after a few get learned a little, getting a little bit of knowledge under your belt, but you gotta you got to still continue to spend money. And my associate gets out of dental school, what's to do, he gets a brand new Jeep Cherokee gets a $500,000 house, he's married, he has as a kid. And now he doesn't have money CE. You know, I can't teach you everything. I don't know everything, right. And so and I don't have the time to do it. And so you know, that's where my recommendation is. CE, you can ever go wrong. You can see, and Dennis early on, I learned to be a good listener. Why? And I'll tell you a story. That's a little embarrassing, but Mark Friedman in Demoise, and me and my as dentists that I was seeing that we go out to lunch with Friedman. And I'm telling Friedman how to do veneers, like because I think I'm good. And I'm like, Well, yeah, you know, you don't break the content, you know, and he goes, and whenever we go to the restroom, my buddy goes, just shut the hell up. He says, you're trying to tell this guy whose a smart learner, so I learned, you need to you need to listen, you need gotta be a little bit of humble, like, don't know everything because you really don't. 

Dennis H:That's the old saying, That's why God gave us two ears and one mouth. Right? You learn a lot more by listening than you do from talking and asking questions and being curious. I think that's that I think is part of our Sharecast I think it's certainly part of connecting with patients, understanding what their story is understanding what your expectations are. I think that was the one that challenges for me when I was a young dentist is removing myself from that and not making it about me and making it about the patient. And once I was able to make that flip, I will tell you my practice once I made that flip and it was not about me it was about the patient was about what the patient needed and what I could help them get to my practice change dramatically once I learned that lesson, but it took me awhile to learn that, you know, I was full of ego and full of self importance and all that type of stuff. And it took a little while for me to understand that the significance of all that 

Robert M: Yeah,yeah. And you know, Dennis people may look at us now and think god you guys are very successful. And you know, probably was easy, it wasn't easy at all. Not at all all the money that you borrowed to buy buddy out to open your practice to do what you're doing now me having a building, to build a building in 2000 I had no money. I had to borrow all this money and so it it's it's worth the journey, but it was not easy.

Dennis H: No, but it makes it all the more valuable. And it's and then you got better stories to tell at the end also.

Robert M: That's exactly right. I got some great stories. That's for sure. 

Dennis H: Bob,I really appreciate you spending this time with us. I would love you gave some great advice for for a young graduating dentists. They're coming out they're a boatload in debt. You said put your money towards education. Get a you know you have to It's sad. You spend all this money you spend, you know, hundreds of 1000s of dollars getting educated in at Marquette, we would say they're educating you to become safe beginners. Right. And I think that's a great way to put it safe beginners. 

Robert M: Yeah, that's a great saying. That's a great way to put it.

Dennis H: So I have always I've always recommended learn occlusion, learn occlusion. Go to kois go to spear go to Dawson go to panky get occlusion as a foundation. Then you can start learning about dental implants, you can start learning about the sexy stuff right? You can learn about aesthetics or porcelain veneers, composites all that stuff started with occlusion. What What are your thoughts?

Robert M: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I mean occlusion is the foundation for everything because if you're not understanding the occlusion, veneers somebody's got their function, they're gonna break your veneers, you're gonna end up having a problem. So I think that's fantastic. And you know, the ability now, dennis what you're doing. People don't have to travel. We used to have to travel we used to have to pay for hotels and all your food. And now they can sit in their operatory and watch us. I want to commend you for a reasonable price. You're not charging all this money to learn, I would say take hands on courses because you can't swim or play a piano like in the lecture. But as you said learn occlusion, learn occlusion and then start looking for People that you that you respect and can look up to, that are teaching the right thing. Because there's some Institute's out there that are just teaching you how to make money. It's all about money, money, money, if the case is you're not gonna get the foundation, you're not get the foundation.

Dennis H: I think you're right, I think burnout would be a real issue. You know, I can't remember who I just heard this from recently. But it's like, the great thing about dentistry, there's so many ways that you can do dentistry, right? If you if you want to just do ortho as a general dentist, I know someone who did that if you want to, if you just want to make your practice about implants. As a GP, you can just do implants. If you wanted to have an aesthetic practice. If you want to have a pain, paid practice, you won't be like jim mckee and have a joint based restorative practice, find what find what you like, and then get really good at that. Right. And I mean, I did, there's the old old saying that you need to work on the things that you're not so good at. And I disagree, I'd say you're gonna what you're good at, and that you like, and then just put everything towards that. And that's how my practice has been. And it's been a restorative based practice since I was a young dentist because I didn't like surgery, I didn't like Endo. And I thought that people could do a better let me just get better at what I can do that I love to do. And I think that's been really, really helped me be successful my practice.

Robert M: Um, so like you- I don't do endo and I don't do perio I don't do oral surgery. I don't do you know, any of the specialty stuff. But restorative dentistry? I feel like, I'm getting good at restorative, you know, crown and bridge implant process single tooth implants, composites, I think you need to find some that that, that you can be good at. And, and if you concentrate, and you're good, and you can be efficient, you don't need to do all those other things I'm not against GP’s doing endo and put out as long as they can do it as endodontist. 

Dennis H: Yep. Yeah, I agree. If you can do it as good as my specialists then all power. That's great. I'm just I can't do it. And so it was easy for me because I was no good at it. And I couldn't do it. So that was an easy decision.

Robert M: Yeah, I think, and and always treating the patients the right way, doing what's right for the patient is always going to, you know, help you be successful. Because if you treat people, you know, they're trusting you to do the right thing, Dennis, in 30? Well, let me see he said, 38 years of dentistry, I have never had a production goal or a staff meeting telling my staff we need to produce this amount of money. I know what we need to do in my mind. But how do I know who's walking through my door, I don't know how many implants I'm going to do this month. And I just want my staff if we do what the patient needs, if we can convince our patients to have the dentistry they need. That's all I can ask you to do. Right? Not as sell something that doesn't need to be done. And if we're at 90 crowns at the end of the month, they were our goal is 100. Does that mean 10 People are going to be getting crowns? No.

Dennis H: Yeah, that's a problem, isn't it? That's a problem. All right. Well, listen, Bob, this has been awesome. I knew so much about your background. I did. I knew about Mopper Going to the to the Coney Island after his when he was doing his studies. But I didn't know that was your parents, restaurants and your grandparents restaurant. That's just a crazy thing to know. As always, it's just a it's just wonderful hanging out and having a conversation and sort of learning, learning about how you got to be where you are. And for those who are out there. Look, I remember. And I tell the story we when the restorative Academy used to be at the Drake hotel, my buddy John and I would go and we'd go down to the bars, look up door, the golden rooster. And we would sit in the corner and we would just look at all the dignitaries that would come in and be frank spear and kois and Bon winter and church you know all these notoriety dentists and just like oh my God, and the reality is they just they're just hardworking dentists, right? And they just they just worked hard. They they figured out that they love dentistry, and they just wanted to get better at it. And so for anyone out there just, you know, learn from from Bob. Just get in the CE, do the workshops, do them again, learn again, learn again, get better at your skills and be open to criticism from your instructor so that you can get better and move forward and enjoy this profession to the to the highest level. Any parting words, Bob?

Robert M: No, you know, Dennis is always a pleasure seeing you. I respect you so much, because you've done it the right way. And listen, you and I both teach composites. I've never been in competition with you, buddy or any because we all learn from each other. I am proud of what You're doing, I can recommend your courses, I can recommend you because you're a consummate teacher, I appreciate you giving me a platform to be able to tell you my journey because that wasn't rosy. It wasn't like all of a sudden, I was successful. I found mentors. My My suggestion is, I'm not looking for a student to just say, Hey, come here, I want to teach you this, but somebody who wants to learn, I'm willing to help people, you want people who are, you know, active, that want to learn, and drink from the fire hose. So, like you, I've always been a CE junkie, I still take, you know, lots of hours myself, even though I feel like I'm pretty competent. And so I want to commend you keep on doing what you're doing. I look forward to seeing you at the restorative coming up. And it's always a pleasure. 

Dennis H:I look forward to seeing you in just just about a month or so. So. So it's been great. Thank you for your generosity and your time. It really is. I'm so grateful to have you here with us. 

Robert M: Thank you very much Dennis 

Dennis H:. For Dental online trainers. Thank you so much for hanging out and sharing this time with us. As always, yours for better dentistry and go blue because this is a national championship week. So thank you for joining us here for better dentistry. I'm Dr. Dennis Hartlieb.

Dennis Hartlieb, DDS, AAACD

Dr. Hartlieb is the founder & CEO of Dental Online Training. Dr. Hartlieb is an Accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AAACD), a MEMBER of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry, the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and he runs a full-time cosmetic and restorative practice in Chicago.

Dr. Hartlieb is the host of the Dental Online Training Sharecast which you can find wherever you listen to podcasts.

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