Dennis Hartlieb

Interview with Dr. Buddy Mopper Part 1: Fostering a Lifelong Love of Dentistry

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How do we foster lifelong love of our careers as dentists? What experiences lead to developing a speciality within a career?

In the first part of Dr. Dennis Hartlieb's interview with Dr. Buddy Mopper, we get to hear about Dr. Mopper's amazing experiences as a dentist, first as a naval dentist and then as a pediatric dentist, all of which led to his specialization in composite materials and the establishment of Cosmedent (which he'll share more about in Part 2... stay tuned!). 

After a phenomenal career spanning more than fifty-five years, Buddy is now mostly retired, but as you can hear in this discussion with Dennis, his love of the profession and his passion to continue pioneering are still at his core! 

More about Buddy from the Cosmedent site - "[Dr. Buddy Mopper] is an internationally renowned lecturer in esthetic dentistry with an emphasis on composite bonding using direct application techniques. He co-authored, A Complete Guide to Dental Bonding, which was the first definitive book for the dental profession describing bonding techniques. He is a member of the Academy of Esthetic Dentistry, Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, and Fellow of the American College of Dentistry. He teaches direct resin bonding on a continuing education level at many major universities including the University of Iowa and the University of Illinois.

Dr. Mopper is the recipient of two of the most prestigious awards given by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. One for "Lifelong Commitment to Providing Excellence in Continuing Education in Cosmetic Dentistry" and second, an award for "Outstanding Contribution to Cosmetic Dentistry." He received New York University College of Dentistry's "The Irwin Smigel Prize in Esthetic Dentistry," and recently received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the World Aesthetic Congress in England for his outstanding contribution to cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Mopper is Director of Education for the Center for Esthetic Excellence, in Chicago, IL, and is Co-Founder and Chairman of Cosmedent, Inc."

Want to tune in but don't have time to listen? Read the full interview and watch video clips below!

Dennis 0:00  
Hello, Dental Online Trainers! Dr. Dennis Hartlieb back with you again for one more of our Sharecasts, and today I'm thrilled, super excited, to talk to my mentor, my former partner, someone that you probably already know but I want to talk to Dr. Buddy Mopper today. We're going to talk about some stuff that you probably don't know about his history and his background. So first of all, Buddy, thanks for joining me today!

Buddy 0:26  
My pleasure! Thanks for having me, Dennis.

Dennis 0:28  
You're welcome I know this whole technology thing isn't your your favorite thing, so thank you for for getting through this.

Buddy 0:35  
We'll work it out! 

Dennis 0:36  
So good we're doing good so far. Yeah. All right. So, Buddy, I know so much about you, but so many people don't. So I'm going to ask you some questions that you're going to say, "Dennis, you already know this stuff!" But I want everyone else to know about it. So Buddy grew up in this small town called Correctionville, Iowa. What I don't know, Buddy, is how'd Correctionville, Iowa get its name?

Buddy 0:59  
It got its name because it had a line of correction that went through it. And in the county, they had a correction lines. And they had a line that went through the main part of this town, through Main Street. And and that's why they called it Correctionville. That's how it got its name.

Dennis 1:19  
What's a line of corrections? It's like where railroads would meet or something?

Buddy 1:21  
I don't know! I looked it up also. Look it up on Google! They'll show it to you! I don't know exactly. But that's how it got its name. And also, it's the longest name of a town in Iowa. It's 15 letters.

Dennis 1:38  
Iowa has the shortest name of the state. So you got the...

Buddy 1:41  
And that's right, and with two vowels in it. 

Dennis 1:44  
There you go. 

Buddy 1:45  
I O.

Dennis 1:46  
I thought... Well, you've got three vowels: I, O, A.

Buddy 1:49
I, O, A, but it has two starting it. The only two.

Dennis 1:52
Oh, right! Yeah. I figured Correctionville came from... I figured you guys had penitentiaries there.

Buddy 1:59  
No, none there!

Dennis 2:01  
All right. 

Buddy 2:03  
I almost started my own field of dreams. When I was a kid, I used to have to walk about a mile and a half down to the park through the cornfields to get to our baseball field. So we had a... next to my house, I had an alfalfa field. So, we had to cut it down. And we cut it down and made a baseball field, and then the police came after me and said, "What the hell did you do?" So, I got in trouble that way. But I was a little troublemaker in my day. But we we enjoyed ourselves.

When you were in Correctionville, your dad owned a market, correct? The store?

Actually, it was a general store at first for a long time. Then he turned it into a small supermarket.

So you grew up having that influence of your dad owning a business? 


And you're this small town. What I don't know, Buddy, is how did you get influenced to get into dentistry? Where did that come from?

It was by happenstance. Okay. My parents' path, since I was... I was born with a physician's kit. I think that's what they gave me some, like a stethoscope and stuff like that. They thought I was going to be a doctor. And I was I was pre med in school. And during my second year of undergraduate work, I had taken physics a year before in summer school, and then I took organic chemistry. And I had a tough time with organic chemistry. It was at Drake. It wasn't at Iowa. So I dropped the course and took Russian Intellectual History and Geography and did real well in that. 

And at the same time, I called my folks, and they said, "You better find yourself in job!" Okay? So I got a job at Methodist Hospital, and I worked in the recovery room. And I saw what was going on in the recovery room, patients struggling, patients dying. And I really didn't like it very much, so I went back home. And I said to my dad, I said, "Dad, I don't think I'm going into medicine." He said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I think I want to go into advertising." He said you'd better go back to school and find yourself another thing to do. So I had a friend of mine, Chuck Rosenbaum, who was going to dental school at the University of Iowa. I told him my problem. And Chuck said, "Come over the dental school, take a look, and see what you think!" So I spent a day over there, and I said well, it's worth a try. Maybe I'll make my parents happy. And I applied to dental school, and in those days, they accepted 15 at a time and I got accepted in the first 15. And my parents were... they were okay with it, but they weren't... It wasn't a real doctor, but that was okay. But I got into dental school, and I did well but I found my... You know, I'm a pediatric dentist...

We'll talk about that in a second.


Well, before you get into that, so you went to Iowa for undergrad? 


Okay. How many years did you go for undergrad? Were you three years or four years? 

Three years. And I got a BA degree in science at the University of Iowa after my first year of dental school.

Was that common back then that you would go to undergrad for three years? Or was it?

It was there. The University of Tennessee at had a different ballgame. And I think there were other schools that did that. But we only had to do three years of undergraduate at the University of Iowa, and they gave us credit for the first year of dental school.

Okay. When you were hanging out with your buddy, Rosenbaum, and you and saw... What was it about dentistry that you said, "You know what? I think I could do this!" Or this might be something I'd be interested in.

Buddy 5:51  
Well, it was actually the attitude of the students there that... I met some people there, and I was very comfortable with the surroundings. I really didn't know, Dennis. I was trying to find myself and I was trying to make my dad happy. But it was just through happenstance, I got into dentistry. And it, you know, I've never... I'd been to dentists. I'd never had anything against dentists. But, you know, I thought I've got to do something because I'm not going to make them happy this way. So I did it for the my parents, really, to tell you the truth. Because they want a professional in the family. They'd been hard working system in their business. They didn't want me in that business. And so you know, it's just something... I said, you know, I'm going to try it. And I did, and it turned out unbelievable for me.

Buddy, you hear this so much from young dentists. I mean, from everybody that they... And I think even... it seems to me like so many dentists come from one of two things, either their parents were dentists or they had, you know, maybe an uncle they had someone influence right, and they go into dentistry. But so many people, they, you know, they want to make their parents proud. Same thing. They don't want to go to medicine because they don't want to deal with you know, people dying, they don't want to deal with all that stuff, right? But they want to be in this profession. And I tell you, you hear it so often. And a lot from like kids who [their] parents were immigrants, and they want their kids to be successful. And dentistry is like this magnet for people who want to be in a professional career. And I think your story that you tell is so similar to what I hear from so many other people.

Well, that's the way it happened with me. And I'll tell you, as a result, many people my family -- my niece, my, my nephew, their kids -- they've gone into dentistry also as a result of it.

Yeah, and I think that's so cool that you can influence people, right, once you... how much you love it. So we're going to talk about how much you love it a little bit later. But I think that's so I think that's so cool because I... Buddy, I will tell you when I was a young dentist and I would... and so I was practicing in Chicago and -- I never talked to you about this -- I was practicing in Chicago, and Buddy Mopper is up in Winnetka. And Buddy Mopper is like this icon, right, when I'm this young dentist. And I would drive up to Winnetka, and I looked for Buddy Mopper's practice. 
And when you're a young dentist you think, "Well, they had it... they had a different. They had it easy. They, you know, they were just natural!" You know, you have all these sort of thoughts in your head, and the reality is that so many of us were going through the same thing, right? We're trying to figure out what we want to do. We're trying to make their parents happy; we're trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up someday. And, you know, you don't think that you're just like everybody else you think that someone like Buddy Mopper never / always... [That] Buddy Mopper, when he was in the cradle, was going to be a dentist. That's what I would have thought, and so it's interesting having these conversations. I think it helps people to hear that, you know?

Buddy 8:53  
It just happened, and it was a great thing for me.

Yeah, well, and I think a great thing for the profession, so not just for you, but for the profession.

I loved the social aspects of dentistry I just thought that your intimacy between the patient and... there's nothing like that patient and Doctor relationship that you have in dentistry. It's so unique, it's unbelievable.
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Dennis 9:14  
That's what drew me in... When I'd go see my physician, my doctor, he was kind of a jerk, and he'd spend, you know, he'd spend one minute with us. And our dentist was a nice guy, and he'd spend time with us and, you know, it was a... you know, and I was lucky I didn't have to have a lot done as a little kid, so I wasn't scared of the dentist or any of that, and he was a great guy. And I thought, "Well, I could do that. He seems really nice. He seems happy." And I didn't want to deal with death and dying, and my doctor was kind of a jerk so, you know, it seemed to make sense. 

So, you went to Iowa. You went to Iowa dental school? What was dental school like then? What years were you in dental school? 

Buddy 9:50  

Dennis 9:51  
What years did you go to dental school?

Buddy 9:53  
I was in dental school from 1962 to 1966... wait a minute. Wait a minute! I graduated in 1958, so... I got to think this out. 

Dennis 10:06  
So late 50s in the 60s. 

Yeah, I graduated in 62. 


Buddy 10:18  
Okay, from dental school. Then I graduated from... I'm trying to... Let me think! It' know, you go back so far!

Dennis 10:28  
I know, right? I know. I hear ya.

Buddy 10:30  
I just... We'll continue on that later on....

Dennis 10:34  
Tell me what dental school is like back then.

Buddy 10:35  
It was a completely different ballgame. When we first of all, it was more it was more tedious. And as a result, I think you learned skills, unbelievably, because the first thing we opened... We went to our lab, we opened our case, and there was a blacksmith's apron, and an iron cast, and 16 blocks of ivorine, and we had to sculpt and make our own teeth that we could work on an operative dentistry the next semester. 

Dennis 11:13  
No way! 

Buddy 11:14  
Yes. So we had we, we had these bastard files, and we had to file down the route, and then carve the occlusal in these... and make our own teeth to to do our operative dentistry on. It was work. Let me tell you. 

Dennis 11:33  
Wow! That's crazy! 

Buddy 11:34  
It was not easy. But it was a great teaching mechanism. Yeah, it taught all kinds of things. From polish... The cast, we had to polish like you couldn't believe. Iowa was tremendous. There was never a school that polished like Iowa. We polished everything. Through all the... And it started right out with polishing the cast before we made our teeth and polished them and things of that nature. And that was our lab the first semester.

Dennis 12:03  
That's crazy. I've never heard that story before. 

Buddy 12:06  
It was unbelievable. 

Dennis 12:07  
So do you have any of those? Do you have any of those teeth still around?

Buddy 12:09  
I don't know. I think Jonie has one or two laying around.

Dennis 12:13  
That's crazy.

Buddy 12:14  
Oh my god, it was so difficult it was unbelievable.

Dennis 12:17  
So literally you had a hunk of ivory. You had a carve?

Buddy 12:20  

Dennis 12:21  
Ivorine. So what is ivorine?

Buddy 12:24  
It's... it was like a plastic, but it was like... I don't know what it is, ivorine. Look it up! I don't know. 

Dennis 12:30  
I will!

Buddy 12:31  
That's what it was called, ivorine.

Dennis 12:33  
So then you had a carve a tooth out of ivorine. And then those teeth you would you use the next semester,

Buddy 12:39  
We made our own cast, we polished our own upper lower casts. And those teeth, okay, we put eight upper and eight lower, and we put it in the casts so that we could do operative dentistry, and things of that nature, the next semester.

Dennis 12:54  
So you created your own Typodont. You guys made your own Typodonts. 

Buddy 12:58
That's exactly right! 

Dennis 12:59
That's crazy. I had no idea. I've never heard that before! 

Buddy 13:02  
Yeah, that's... Really, it was wonderful. But it was... it taught you a lot.

Dennis 13:07  
Yeah, you learned what you really learned anatomy.

Buddy 13:09  
Yes, we did.

Dennis 13:10  
Yeah, no doubt. All right. Wow. All right. So, I wasn't ready for that. That's blowing my mind! That's so cool! All right. Yeah. Far different than what happened when I was in school.

Buddy 13:22  
Far different! Where you carved it out of wax. Yeah, whole different ballgame.
We went to our lab, we opened our case, and there was a blacksmith's apron, and an iron cast, and 16 blocks of ivorine, and we had to sculpt and make our own teeth that we could work on an operative dentistry the next semester. 
Dr. Buddy Mopper
Dennis 13:27  
Alright, so what year did you actually start treating patients when you were in dental school?

Buddy 13:33  
In our junior year.

Dennis 13:35  
And do you remember the very first dental procedure you did on a patient?

Buddy 13:41  
No, I don't, Dennis, to tell you the truth. I just remember that I had a hell of a tough time putting on the rubber dam, and it wasn't easy. And I was scared to death. But I don't remember the first patient! And I don't think the first patient wanted to remember me, either! 

Dennis 14:04  
That's fantastic. Did you... were you guys numbing patients up back then? 

Buddy 14:08  
Yes, yes. Your bet. I didn't have a tremor, but I tremored then, when I gave my first injection. I'll tell you that! 

Dennis 14:15  
Who didn't? Who didn't! 

Buddy 14:17  
It scared me to death! But I did it. 

Dennis 14:19  
Same, same same.

Buddy 14:21  
Oh, yes. We always used anesthesia. And, I'll tell you, we always sat down in those days. We had... It was a very advanced, 

Dennis 14:31  
Very, very progressive school.

Buddy 14:32  
Because they felt that, you know, you're not going to be in this a long time. You've got to be comfortable. We sat down with our patients. They tell you this much. Even when we went up to Pedo... They came down, got our instruments, and stuff like that. We had an assistant up in pediatric dentistry. It was sort of, it was really an advanced school, to tell you the truth.

Dennis 14:53  
Did you guys get an experience in orthodontics when you guys were at the school? 

Buddy 14:57  
Very little. We had some courses. But we... I did some interceptive orthodontics when I was up in pediatric dentistry, okay? And I had a very good mentor, Dale Reddick, who I loved, who taught me a lot up there, and I did a lot of interceptive up there.

Dennis 15:17  
I want to talk about that in a second... I have a question I've never asked you. When you were in dental school, it was a little bit of a crazy time in the United States, because you're just getting out of Korean War, and then you're sort of pre-Vietnam era. What was the... What was it like being a student, when all that stuff's going on in the United States and stuff?

Buddy 15:41  
You know, every war is bothersome. Let me tell you, I hate war. But I've got to tell you, I'm a very real patriot. So when I went into dental school, I knew I was going to go into service. I always thought... my dad served, and I felt I should serve. And so they had a program called the Dents, it was a 1925 program. And I enlisted in the Navy as a freshman. And that assured me that when I came out -- I had to go through officer's training school my senior year in the summer, okay, in Newport, Rhode Island -- but that assured me that I would come out, and I would be a naval dentist, and I would serve two years, which I did. And you know, wars? Wars? I hate wars, but what's going on in this country? I don't even want to get into that now. 

Dennis 16:31  
Yeah. All right. 

Buddy 16:32  
It's terrible.

Dennis 16:33  
So did you go from dental school, then? Did you go into do your naval service? Or did you go first to your pediatric program, and then to the navy?

Buddy 16:41  
They wanted me to go into the pediatric program, and I felt I'd had it. And I said... they wanted me to apply then. I didn't. I went into the Navy, and then I applied the University of Iowa, and the University of Illinois, for pediatric dental... for a position in pediatric dentistry after I came out of the service. 

Dennis 16:48  
Can ask you about your Navy experience?

Buddy 17:05  
That was wonderful. I served... My wife and I, we were we were on Midway Island. 

Dennis 17:12  
Oh, I didn't know that. 

Buddy 17:13  
Yeah, we were on Midway Island for 18 months. And Joanie couldn't even get over there. But they had a job available at teaching. They had 600 -- that was a neat thing for me -- because they had 600 children on the island that were civilians or children of the of the military. And so a teaching position opened up. And I called Joanie and told her to contact the office of overseas opportunities. She got a job, and she came out very early. And they... We didn't have housing. So they they made two rooms in the BOQ for us. We lived in the Bachelor Officers' Quarters for six months, and they decided was such a good idea, they'd do it for other people coming out of there. And it was... it was a great experience for us. It was wonderful. It was small, a mile and 2/10 square. There were 3500 people on it. And, you know, that had the the the airport there and things of that nature. And so we were there, and then we were able to travel to the Orient. We went to Hong Kong in 1963 and Japan in 1963. And, yeah. It was 1962 when I graduated! I knew I was right! And last was Hong Kong. Hong Kong was, let me tell you! It was a neat experience, and we went to Manila. And so we traveled all over the world at very young age. And my military experience was great. And for me, it was great because I knew I was going to go to Pediatric Dentistry, so they said, "The kids are yours! You anything you can on them. 

Dennis 18:56  

Buddy 18:57  

Dennis 18:58  
How many other dentists, do you remember, were there with you?

Buddy 19:00  
I had a good friend, Roger Triphouser, who ended up being, I think, the only dentist at least... maybe the only officer... that made it to Admiral through the dental reserve. 

Oh, no kidding! 

Buddy 19:21
And he had come through an internship, a navy internship, and he was out there. And Roger and I, with, I think, one or two other dentists. We had technicians, assistants, and things of that nature. It was a well run clinic. We had we had a great time, and we serviced our [population]. And I polished everything I every amalgam I did out there! It was sort of neat! It really was. You know, amalgam was the thing in those days!

Dennis 19:38  
Yeah, I heard about amalgam. For our young practitioners and our dental students, that's the stuff that's silver in people's mouths (in case you're not familiar). 

Buddy 19:49  
A lot of people are still using it, Dennis! 

Dennis 19:51  
Yeah, I know. Yes, they are.

Dennis 19:55
So, Buddy, when you started your pediatric program, then, so you did your two years in the service... What was it about treating kids that was in it for you? Like why did you want to be a pediatric dentist? What was that about?

Buddy 20:07  
Oh, when I... Like I said, in our senior year, they'd take us up to Pediatric Dentistry. And I just had a knack for getting along with kids. And I treated them more like adults than I did like kids. I had... I developed... I looked around, and all of my contemporaries were having trouble. I didn't have much trouble. And I had a real great mentor, I told you, Dale Reddict, who helped me a lot. And I just... it clicked with me. And it was... And I liked doing it. I was able to work with stainless steel crowns, and things of that nature. And I placed amalgam, and we had silicate. That's the only thing we had as a restorative material, but I used that, okay? And then they had a... And it just, it was my relationships with the children. I had knack that was great. And I had very few criers, and when they did cry, we had methods to take care of... They don't use them anymore now, but that's okay. But I just got along with the kids beautifully. So, that was the whole thing.

Dennis 21:14  
I just had someone in the practice this week, Buddy, and I can't remember who it was. But she said to say hi because you had treated her kids. And her kids are probably... they've got to be... I don't know, I don't want to tell you! They're probably 40 or 50 years old! So...

Buddy 21:29  
Probably! I treated a lot of them!

You went to Iowa... you had two years of treating a ton of kids when you were at Midway, so it must have been just a walk in the park when you did your pediatric program.

Buddy 21:41  
It was. I was very advanced when I went to graduate school as far as I did well in graduate school. I was a late bloomer; I kept doing better and better as I went higher and education, okay? And I just excelled later on, as I went along. And, you know, it was easy for me. Graduate school was easy for me. And especially the treatment aspect.

Dennis 22:04  
You know, I had one of my professors in dental school told me, Dennis, you want to be successful in dentistry, treat your kids like adults and treat your adults like children, and you'll be successful. I think that's wise words, don't you think?

Buddy 22:24  
Well, we had an understanding with the people, the mothers and fathers that came through our practice, that, Hey, you know, if your child needs you, I'll have you in the room. But if it interferes with the progression of what I'm going to do and my relationship with the child, I have to... You have to leave. And then that's what happened. And so most of the time, we didn't have the parents in the room. I developed a relationship with the child and me, and it worked beautifully. We had very few really patients that we ever had to take to the hospital because of management and things of that nature. Of course we worked with handicapped kids and disabilities of all kinds. And those... many times I had to go to hospital for that.

Dennis 23:07  
Right. Did you... when they would sedate these kids, how often were you guys doing... like in your program... did you guys have... Was that a big part of your program? 

Buddy 23:20  
I never did sedation in my program. 

Dennis 23:21  
Oh, really? Oh, no kidding.

Buddy 23:24  
I didn't do it in my office.

Dennis 23:25  
So then, just general, you'd have GA cases, general anesthesia cases, where you'd have an anesthesiologist, and then... How often were you doing those types of cases when you were in your residency? Were those pretty common back then?

Buddy 23:38  
Well, in the residency, I can't even... To tell you the truth, we didn't do that many, you know? 

Dennis 23:44  
Not that many? Okay. 

Buddy 23:45  
We didn't do that many. And then when I came out, as I... You know, I was I was consult to, and on staff at Illinois Masonic hospital. And they had a program for handicapped kids and kids with special needs and things of that nature. And they've had kids coming from all over the country through the Masonic order, and things of that nature. And so I was very involved in treating those kids at Illinois Sonic. And we, at the same time, we had residents there. I taught residents there for 16 years, okay? And so, that was a great experience for me also.
Well, we had an understanding with the people, the mothers and fathers that came through our practice, that, Hey, you know, if your child needs you, I'll have you in the room. But if it interferes with the progression of what I'm going to do and my relationship with the child, I have to... You have to leave. And then that's what happened. And so most of the time, we didn't have the parents in the room. I developed a relationship with the child and me, and it worked beautifully.
Dr. Buddy Mopper
Dennis 24:26  
So you went to University of Illinois, Chicago for your pediatric residency? 

Buddy 24:30  
Yes. Yes. 

Dennis 24:31  
Why did you pick Illinois? Because Johnny was from Chicago, and you wanted to get to Chicago?

Buddy 24:36  
No, it's... I wanted a Master's degree. 

Dennis 24:41  

Buddy 24:41  
University of Iowa wouldn't give me a Master's degree. Okay? So I was all set to go back to Iowa. And so, they wouldn't give me a Master's degree. And I didn't like that. And so on a on a whim -- this is, you won't believe this! I called The University of Illinois, and I got Tom Barber, who is a tremendous guy, on the phone. And I told him my plight, and this was very close to, you know, either getting accepted or not. He says, "Come on down and talk to me." So I went downtown, talked to Tom. And it was a great experience. My sister in law came with me; she comes in the door, and she says, "You've got to take this guy! You'll like this guy!" 

Dennis 25:33  
Is this Myrna?

Buddy 25:34  
Yes, Myrna.

Dennis 25:35  
So Myrna is Buddy's sister in law, and Myrna used to work in our office. So 

Buddy 25:41  
And I go home... 

Dennis 25:41  
I hate these, like sort of inside stories, but they give people color. Myrna used to work in our office, so I know Myrna really well.

Buddy 25:47  
So I go home, and a week later, I get the acceptance from the University of Illinois.

Dennis 25:52  
Because Myrna told them what they had to do.

Buddy 25:54  
Yeah, and I got my... I was able to get my Master's degree. And my mentor was Tom Barber, and Morrie Massler, one of the great scientists in dentistry. So I learned a tremendous amount through those two people. They were great. And they were my mentors.

Dennis 26:11  
Well, Buddy, you talk about mentorship, and I don't think anyone has had a stronger mentor than I have had with you. And I talk about this all the time when I'm talking to young dentists; they have to find mentorship because there's... I think, in dentistry, but probably in everything, you need someone to show you the way! I know with my daughter in marketing, she's... you know, she has someone that she's mentoring from, right? You need people who have gone down the path before, and help... You know, when you're when you're going the wrong way on the path, which you did many times for me -- You'd grab me by the ear and pull me on the right way on the path! -- You need that! You've got to have that, right?

Buddy 26:47  
It's very helpful. Morrie Massler, he used to pull my cheek, and he says, you know, he says, "You know, you've got a real problem." He says, "You read, but you don't think." He says, "You've got to think! And not everything you read is right. And remember that!" Aand this is all scientific stuff he was talking about. He was a great teacher. And I wrote my thesis under him. And researched... And there was some really nice stuff in there. And it was well thought out. And it was because of him that I think, really my... I have the ability to read scientific literature, and get the most out of what I read, you know, and he was wonderful!

Dennis 27:34  
Oh, that's awesome. Buddy, this goes a long way back. And this might put you sort of on the spot. When you came out of art school and you started practicing. What surprised you from going from education? Alright, I got my Master's degree. I'm treating kids. But now I have to go out and private practice and do it. Do you remember, like, sort of like, what was... Like I just had a conversation with a young dentist who just graduated, and he said, "Dennis, I just... I've done 35 restorations in the month since I graduated, which is way more than all the restorations I did while I was in dental school!" Which obviously was not your situation, because things are much different then, but what do you remember about getting out into practice that was different than being in school?

Buddy 28:19  
I'd had so much experience by the time I got out of the practice that really, it was, you know...

Dennis 28:25  
Pretty seamless?

Buddy 28:25  
Even in graduate school, I was... I worked part time because we didn't get any money for graduate school. Okay? I had to pay for graduate school. So I worked at nights part time for dentists who had practices on the Southside of Chicago. And my partner member, Joe Moore, he and I worked together in an office on the south side, and eventually we opened our own practice on the south side. I had tremendous practices, okay? So as a young dentist, the transition, it wasn't difficult for me, because I've been doing all this dentistry all the way along. The only thing was how to run a practice. And that wasn't really my forte, okay? My forte was being able to get people to accept treatment, to produce, to make money. And, but I had other people around me who managed the practice and things of that nature. I'm a great delegator, as you well know1 I didn't tackle things I really didn't know.

Dennis 29:30  
You know, it's interesting. I think you bring up a good point. The fact that you were so strong in your restorative treatment than your clinical skills had allowed you to sort of concentrate on, like building your practice and stuff. And I think that what's one of the big challenges for dentists today, the young dentists, is they do so little dentistry in school, that the first years are really just trying to get the skills up, right? Get repetitions. 

Buddy 29:52  

Dennis 29:53  
Right? And so while a lot of people have issues with DSOs, and where there's these programs or these offices, where they say they're using dentists. Well, dentists are getting a lot of clinical experience that they're not getting a dental school these days. So I think that getting your chops, right? Doing a lot of restorative work is important, and then growing from there to be able to figure out then how to talk to patients, how to manage your practice, and all that type of stuff.

Buddy 30:18  
Well, I think one of the shortcomings of education today, and I mean this, is that there's so much emphasis on high tech, and it reduces the emphasis on skill level. I think that skill level is still the most important thing in dentistry, and enhances your ability to do everything including diagnosis, treatment, planning, and performing the the dentistry that needs to be done.

Dennis 30:44  
There's no doubt. And we talk about digital dentistry a lot these days. And the reality is, is if you don't have a good hands on... if you can't use your hands, it doesn't matter what you're designing digitally because when you put that stuff in the mouth, oftentimes it needs to be reshaped, recontoured.

Buddy 30:58  

Dennis 30:59  
And we're always going to have to be doing direct composites. I mean, I cannot imagine a world where there would be a time when we're going to have everything machined. So skipping over that, I think you're right. It's... and that's something that students have to, when they get out of dental school, they've really got to sort of pick it up. Which is actually my next question for you is: we have a lot of young dentists, we have dental students who are listening, a lot of young dentists. What advice would you give them as they're starting out into dentistry? What would you tell them that they should be thinking about when they're getting into dentistry?

Buddy 31:35  
Well, you know, as far as relationships... First of all, a lot of the other dentists are getting into dentistry, but they're going into group practices. Am I right about that?

Dennis 31:45  
Yeah, for sure. 

Buddy 31:46  
In that case, they have to think about how to increase their skill level. You know, that's number one, okay? I think that's an important aspect. And then they have to... First of all, they have to, with their treatment plans and things of that nature, they have to visualize what they're doing. I think there's a... You have got to be able to... For instance, if you're doing a smile design, you've got to be able to analyze a smile in an instant. It shouldn't take, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to analyze somebody's smile, but I think you have to look and see and try to develop the concept of what a smile, what it really entails. It's not that difficult. And then you got to look and see where the defects are, and how you would, and how you... and which side of the mouth is more effective and relationship to the other side of the mouth. There's so much into... A lot of it, it does involve vision, I'm telling you right now, 

Dennis 32:44  
Yep, you've got to be able to see it.

Buddy 32:45  
And as far as where they go from there, I would hope that... To tell you the truth, a group practice is great. But for the young student coming out, I would hope that they'd have, set their sights on developing their own practice and their own group, to tell you the truth. And maybe doing interrelated groups where you have an orthodontist, and a general dentist, and a pediatric dentist, in that group setting where you combine all aspects of dentistry in one group, I think that would be an interesting way to go. And I don't see a lot of that. A lot of groups like that, okay?
Write your awesome label here.
Dennis 33:27  
Yeah, I think that's great advice. And so for those who are listening to this, watching this, I joined Buddy's practice in 1997. So, Buddy, how long had you been up in Winnetka at that point?

Buddy 33:43  
I opened, we opened up the Winnetka office in 1966.

Dennis 33:47  
Okay, so you'd been there for 30 years? 30 plus? 
And the building that Buddy had built there was an orthodontist in the suite next to

Buddy 33:57  
No, no, no... we opened up in different building. 

Dennis 34:03  

Buddy 34:04  
1966, okay, but the orthodontist, Bill Ford, had his own... He was in a building that had a house... They owned the building, and next to it was a house, okay. And I developed a relationship with Bill, and one day he came to me and he said, "Would you like to build an office with me?" And I said, "I certainly would!" And so he, they bought him out of the building, okay? And they gave him the land with the house.

Dennis 34:47  
Ah! Next to the building that you guys were going to build. Got it.

Buddy 34:51  
Bill came to us and said, "Will you build the building with us?" And that's what we did. We got attached to the other building.

Dennis 35:00  
What year was that? 

Buddy 35:03  

Dennis 35:03  
What year was that, that you guys built that?

Buddy 35:05  
Oh my God! That's just got to be... 66. It had to be at least 70.

Dennis 35:15  
Okay, in the 70s. 
So that building, though, what was nice was you walked in and immediately to the left was the orthodontist. And then you walked into the suite where you were doing your Pediatric Dentistry at the time,

Buddy 35:28  
And then we had a a periodontist downstairs, which later became an endodontist office. So, it was really sort of group practice right then.

Dennis 35:37  
Yeah, really progressive for the time! I can't imagine there were a lot of people who were doing that because that was, I think, ahead of its time.

Buddy 35:43  
Yeah, and it was very nice. And Bill was a good orthodontist, and his son came in after that, and he was tremendous. And John's now retired! Somebody else is in there now. I sold the building to them when we went to... when we built our new practice in the Glen.

Dennis 36:04  
So, Buddy, a lot of people don't realize that you're a pediatric dentist. That's where you started out before you got into cosmetic dentistry. So, talk about that path. How did you end up becoming one of the pioneers in cosmetic dentistry? How did that happen?

Buddy 36:18  
Well, I did not like repairing eight year old fractures... Eight year olds' fractured anterior teeth with crowns.

Dennis 36:27  
Okay. Stainless Steel crowns, or were they plastic polygon?

Buddy 36:30  
They could be Stanley crowns, they could be... they could even be a porcelain crown or something like that. Okay? I did it any way to do it. I did stainless steel crowns. I did a lot of that stuff. I don't like it. It was horrible. And so I heard about, from my friend Chuck Rosenbaum, I heard about a guy named Walter Doyle who did his thesis in acid etching technique. You know, Buonocore was the inventor of the acid etching technique. So I had never even heard of Buonocore at that time, but he did this... And I looked up his thesis, and he did it with acid aceditron, which is a plastic material. It's awful. Smells like crazy. So I tried it. And it worked. It wasn't great, but it worked. Then, Chuck, who was a pediatric dentist. I don't know Chuck is still alive? I think he is. He doesn't practice anymore, but he's in South Bend, Indiana. He told me about... he said he got this stuff called nuvafill. So he told me about it. So I got it, and I started using it. And I did things with it that I could never believe, okay?

Dennis 37:45  
So this is... This is like the very initial composites. These are big macro composites, right? 

Buddy 37:51  
That was light activated.

Dennis 37:52  
That was light activated.

Buddy 37:53  
That was light activated.

Dennis 37:55  
Do you remember what year this was? ish?

Buddy 37:58  
Around '72.

Dennis 38:00  
So back in '72 All right, yeah. Good. Yeah. Unicore stuff came out, I think in the late 60s. And if anyone wants the article, I can make that article available where it talks about acid etching.

Buddy 38:09  
I think it was like '72. So I did it, and I was I was doing fractured anteriors like it was going out of style. The only thing I did differently is I knew how to polish. You read the old literature, you'd polish it white stones, and the only green stones... You can't polish anything with those things! And so I knew how to polish from what I did. I went all the way down to fine coddle. You couldn't get a great polish on it, but you got a hell of a lot better than anybody else could get. And I got great margination. And that's how I developed the use of the disc and things of that nature. And it just... it worked out. And then my mentor, Bill Ford, came over says can you fill some or close some diasonas for me? I said, "You can't do that, Bill!" He says, "Yes, you can!" So he persuaded me to do it, I did it with a nouvafilm. And it worked! And it was great! That's very strong stuff, you know. It's a macrofill, a composite. Very strong stuff. And it stayed there! And it looked pretty good! Then young guy, I think was in '80, or close... '78 or '80, who was a dentist, came to me with the Kulzer material, Durafill. And I always saw a detail man in my office because I knew I could always learn something.

Dennis 39:39  
You always, you always saw who?

Buddy 39:41  
Detail. Guys who came through with new things like that. The 8392-016 Bur? I discovered that Bur from Blasler, Larry Roads. I was the first one ever to use it! You know? I really was. So it was from them, okay? So I got this stuff. And it blew me away. I thought it was great.

Dennis 40:06  
So for those who don't know, so this closer...

Buddy 40:08 
That was the first microfill!  

Dennis 40:10
The first microfill. Kulzer is a dental products company. The rep came by, said, "You've got to try this stuff!" And so you take this microfil. And what was it about it that blew you away?

Buddy 40:21  
It's polishability was unbelievable. It's a little bit too translucent. But I still could make it work. And it was better than the nouvafill!

Dennis 40:31  
Let me ask you a question, Buddy. Did you at that time did you do layering where you would use the math?

Buddy 40:36  
No. At that time, the only thing I did with make the the and this this is what this is my concept is to get the opacity is they did have some O papers, and I use the opaqueness in between layers to do that. So I did do some layer.

Dennis 40:53  
So for those of you who are trying to imagine this, so Durafill is a very translucent microfil. And if you can imagine closing or fixing a class IV fracture, if you just use the Durafill, you'd see the fracture line between the tooth structure and the composite. So, Buddy's telling me right now, and I'm hearing this for the first time, that back in 1980, he said, "Well, let me use some opaquer to block out..."

Buddy 41:15  
I think it was before '80 because I wrote that, I wrote the book for them in 1980, so it probably was before.

Dennis 41:22  
There we go. So in the mid and late 70s, you're already opaquing that transition zone to block out the shine through, so you get the polishability on the surface, but you're not getting the shine through.

Buddy 41:32  
So I was getting... I was getting a really good match with the use of the opaquers, with what they had. But I... we had all kinds of ideas. You never...

Dennis 41:44  
I want to talk about that in a little bit! Don't jump ahead, because I want to know... So we're talking about how you started getting into cosmetic dentistry. So, you're treating these kids. John Ford comes over, or John Ford's dad comes over and says, "Hey, Buddy, I want you to close these spaces, do these diastema closures." Now you're doing diastema closures on these kids. You're doing Class IV fractures, you're saving people... saving these kids from having crowns on their teeth. Alright? You're doing peg laterals, I'm assuming? 

Buddy 42:08  

Dennis 42:09  
Right. All right. So you're treating kids. What I want to know about is when... How did you make that transition from treating kids to treating adults? What was that experience?

Buddy 42:20  
The mothers would come through and they'd have a fractured tooth or something like that. I'd say, "You like that tooth?" They said, "No!" I said, "Well, why don't we fix it?" So...

Dennis 42:31  
No way! 

Buddy 42:32  
That's right. That's what I did. And so I did that. And then one thing led to another with cervical restorations and things of that nature. And I started working on adults. It just happened. It was just one of those things. And I realized how great this was because I'm working with a microfill that nobody else was working with then, you know? And it was unbelievable! And I saw the tissue response was so tremendous! I said, "This is great." And so I that I took the risk! Believe me -- it was a big risk! Because I used to have dreams that I'd come to my office, and there were lines around my block as long as I could see that everything fell off at one time! But it didn't. It didn't!

Dennis 43:22  
Those are nightmares! Don't call them dreams; those are nightmares! I can appreciate that. I know what those nightmares are like!

Buddy 43:30  
And it just blew me away. And that's what happened. It's amazing! You know? And I was such a believer in it, I just... And the more I did, the more I realized it. Hey, this is the way to go!
And so I that I took the risk! Believe me -- it was a big risk! Because I used to have dreams that I'd come to my office, and there were lines around my block as long as I could see that everything fell off at one time! But it didn't. It didn't!
Dr. Buddy Mopper
Dennis 43:42  
In the community... So now, I mean, you're a pediatric dentist in the North Shore Chicago. You're a pediatric dentist that is treating adults. Was there pushback in the community? Did people?

Buddy 43:55  
There really wasn't because nobody was doing this. I actually had general dentists referring patients with minimally... with minimal problems to me for this type of work. How about the the rotated teeth on adults? How about that you could straighten out? How about diastema closures that if you could do on adults? Nobody was doing that! So, I had people sending it to me. So I never had a real... nobody really questioned me on that. You know?

Dennis 44:29  
And for those who don't realize... Back then we weren't doing porcelain veneers at this point. Porcelain veneers were just maybe even in their infancy, but I don't think that... I'm trying to think back into the late 80s, Buddy.

Buddy 44:41  
Here's what happened. Porcelain veneers came on, and they came on strong. Okay? And it hurt bonding, composite resin, okay? Because, you know, durability was the thing, and they talked about the strength, and all that kind of stuff. And so it setback bonding, direct composite resin, a lot! Only I was really one of the only guys out there talking about direct composite resin. Gerald Denehy at the University of Iowa was doing the same thing. And Norm Feigenbaum was pushing it, you know? And there were a few of it, but very few! But over time, people realized how great, what an asset... I mean, it is! Today's restorative dentistry, the restorative dental material of choice is composite resin! That's it!

Dennis 45:34  
I agree. And I think unfortunately... I think there's... What's great is we're getting a lot of pushback, and there are a lot of awesome, incredibly talented, composite dentists. And so there is this huge push back, but there's still this struggle between porcelain and composite. But there's certainly a place for both of them. 

Buddy 45:52  
Both of them! 

Dennis 45:53  
Yep! And I think that's...

Buddy 45:55  
We had that in our practice. That's why I brought you into our practice was because I knew there was a place for both of them! I mean, I couldn't do that the work that you did, and I needed somebody to fill that area, and then you got involved with composite, and now you're the expert! And that's the thing!

Dennis 46:13  
It blew me away! And for those who are still learning composites, I tell you, just stick with it because it's such an incredible material, and the changes you can make for people... And you can be minimally invasive! And that's the thing. You can be so minimally invasive with composite; it's such an awesome material! And you have all the control. You have all the artistry! I mean, Buddy, what are your like top things about composites? What do you love about composite?

Buddy 46:40  
Well, ultimate control is number one. Because it is the only material that you can control that doesn't control you. Think about that. You can place it, shape it, add to it, take... And then you can add to it 15 years later. And with our material, our enamel system, our materials are all color stable. And they match 15 or 20 years later. It's amazing stuff! And that's what's so wonderful about the whole thing! I just... And the ability to do it minimally invasively, and the ability to change, to... you can do anything! You can re-rotate teeth, you can reposition teeth, you can do resin retained bridges, you can close diastemas, you could do full color changes! You think about it... Cervical restoration? It's the only way to even do cervical restoration! 

Dennis 47:31  

Buddy 47:32  
The only way! It's so easy and so beautiful, you can't even find them! You don't even know you've done them! There's nothing else you can do that with, you know? The little pieces of porcelain to close a diastema... how screwy is that? This is so much easier, and lasts longer! And talk about durability; this stuff is durable, and it is long lasting, and it's unbelievable. I'm telling you! And the other aspect of it -- it is kinder than others to the tooth, to the general structures, than any other material on the market. It's just amazing.

Dennis 48:03  
Well, I think especially when you're talking about the microfills and how those respond. 

Buddy 48:07  

Dennis 48:08  
Buddy, what I'd like to do is I'd like to take a pause. Because I want to take a deep dive into Cosmedent. And I want to talk about how you started Cosmedent and all that. But I'd like to do that as a separate section, so that people can take a break. So we're going to take a break for a second, and then we're going to take a deep dive into... And I think these stories are so fascinating. I love hearing about putting your books together down in the basement, and I'm in my basement right now! I love these stories. And I want to ask you some questions about how you got Cosmedent going, and some of the things that you've learned along the way. But before we leave that, this section has been about sort of your experience as a dentist, and you practiced dentistry for a very long time. How many years?

Buddy 49:00  
55 years.

Dennis 49:01  
55 years?

Buddy 49:02  
55 years.

Dennis 49:03  
So, where there's a lot of dentists who can't wait for the day for them to retire... 

Buddy 49:07  

Dennis 49:08  
What was it about dentistry that kept you going year after year?

Buddy 49:12  
The relationships with my patients. The work that I did, that I... That I knew made them so satisfied it was unbeliavable. The satisfaction level is incredible! I've never... I experience it every day of my life that somebody comes up, like they said to you, "You did my teeth or my kid's teeth 30 years ago!" And they look at it, and it's the same stuff that I used... And I know, it hasn't been touched... The [work] was incredible. And I know that I made an impact in dentistry, and it makes me feel good about myself. And I'm so happy for my patients. And I feel a love and respect for my patients, and it's just so... It's a self-fulfilling thing that you'll never get in any other, I don't think, in any other profession. It's amazing to me! It really is!
Write your awesome label here.
Dennis 50:07  
I think for mid-career dentists, they need to sort of listen to what you were just talking about and find a way to get that into... If they're not enjoying dentistry, they got to figure out how to get that in...

Buddy 50:17  
I know so many people that hate... not only dentists, but that hate what they do, and all they do is do it until they can retire. Well, I had to quit at 80! You remember that. I developed a central tremor, which I have since gotten rid of... I wish I was still in practice, tell you the truth! I really enjoy it. And I love the contact, the relationships with people. And I love being able to create that amazing stuff for anybody.

Dennis 50:44  
You create some amazing stuff. And I'm blessed because I get to see the stuff come in. And I get to continue these relationships that you started with these patients over the years, and I'm so grateful and honored and just so lucky to sort of have been part of this practice and everything. 

Buddy, I want to end this portion, and so we're going to go to take a little break, and then we're going to come back and do a deep dive into Cosmedent because that is so super cool, and so different from anything anyone's doing. So, everyone, we'll see you at the next episode. Until then, yours for better dentistry. I'm Dr. Dennis Hartlieb. We'll see you at the next Sharecast!

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Dennis Hartlieb, DDS, AAACD

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