The Dawson Academy Blog

Dental Articles on Occlusion, Centric Relation, Restorative Dentistry & More

Be a Frog Kisser

Energetic.  Enlightening.  Entertaining.

Three words used by the audience to describe Dave Weber’s presentation, “Some Days You’re the Pigeon, Some Days the Statue!”. 
Mr. Weber is an internationally recognized speaker with a track record of success.  This talented presenter engaged our alumni members this past Saturday at our 2014 Dawson Academy Alumni Association Retreat in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

The title of Weber’s presentation, on the surface, is simple to interpret.  “In life, we are either being pooped on or pooping on.”  We get in situations with our words, actions and attitudes.  He transfixed the audience with his energetic humor and opened our eyes to the potency of how “words impact relationships, relationships impact culture and climate, culture and climate impact results”. 

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The Stuff That Really Matters

The closing act of our Annual Dawson Alumni Retreat dinner saw us entertained by the magic, musings, and heartfelt messages of Mr. Andy Hickman. This was the second time Andy has performed for our alumni (the last time being 10 years ago at our 25th Alumni Reunion) so we felt it was time to bring him back to share his timeless message with a new group of Dawson Academy students.

The name for his act was “The Magic of the Future is You”, and he accomplished his objectives through poignant stories and mind blowing magic tricks (we're still wondering about how he managed that 'dream house' trick). The title of his act alludes to Andy's belief that our personal futures are shaped by two elements; the choices we make, and the commitments we honor. He was quick to point out that everyone in attendance had made a wise choice to further their knowledge by attending The Dawson Academy, but it was just as important to honor that commitment by becoming ‘heroes’ to others in our lives with these new skills that have been learned.

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The Dawson Academy 2014 Alumni Retreat

Many Thanks...

Wow! What an awesome weekend we had with our wonderful Alumni members.  Many thanks to our fabulous speakers - Scott Finlay, Sabiha Bunek, Mark Piper, Glenn DuPont, Jeff Stubblefield, David Weber, and Andy Hickman for making this such a memorable event.

The emails and letters have been pouring in with heartfelt thanks and comments about how special this Alumni Retreat was and the time spent with other Alumni members and the Dawson Academy faculty and team.  Whether on the golf course, during the meeting, or on top of the Birchwood, making new friendships or catching up with old friends... many lasting memories were made.

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Study Clubs Engage Dawson Dentists

Masters of complete dentistry are not born.  For many the journey begins when we first are exposed to the principles of Dr. Pete Dawson.  However, the path is not always straight.  There are different phases we go through along the way… awakening, excitement, trial, frustration, denial, acceptance, enlightenment, implementation, competency, and maybe even mastery.

If your road has been anything like mine, the most challenging stretch is the implementation phase.  The Dawson Academy had given me the knowledge, but applying it to the realities of my practice proved difficult.  As it was once said, “The loneliest time in the office is a Monday after a Dawson seminar.”

Despite my best intentions, the daily grind would distract me from my goals.  Staff, patients, insurance companies, and other pressures encourage us to work in the moment and to take shortcuts.  The easy thing usually isn’t the right thing when it comes to comprehensive dental care.  I eventually was able to stop working in the moment, but I didn’t do it alone.  I broke through when I joined a study club.

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A New Smile Takes Flight

Covering his mouth when he smiled, Tyler barely spoke.  He had difficulty chewing his food so he refrained from eating in public whenever possible.   Although he was in desperate need of dental treatment, he had not seen a dentist in many years.  Unable to work, his mother is on dialysis several times a week and his father, a veteran, suffers from a brain injury incurred during his time in the service.  As a result, Tyler’s family struggles for basic necessities like food, shelter and electricity that many of us take for granted.   With two younger siblings, Tyler often puts his own needs aside in order to care for his family.

Seeing the talent and intellect hidden behind Tyler’s covered smile, his grandparents did their best to nurture his gifts.   While they struggled to make ends meet themselves, they encouraged his participation in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), seeing it as an opportunity to build Tyler’s confidence.  As a 1 st Lieutenant, he hopes to attend the National Emergency Services Academy and achieve the ranking of 2 nd Lieutenant to become eligible for scholarships.  With dreams of becoming an Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle pilot in the Air Force, Tyler possessed the drive, intelligence and skill necessary for such a challenge.  Lacking confidence and too embarrassed to even talk with his fellow cadets, Tyler’s future dreams withered.  How could he hope to lead others when he was too ashamed to speak to them?

An estimated 17 million low-income children in America go without dental care each year. This represents one out of every five children between the ages of 1 and 18 in the United States. Tyler is one of these promising youth suffering from a silent epidemic negatively impacting his quality of life and his future.

Seeing how poor oral health was damaging her grandson’s self-esteem, Tyler’s grandmother reached out to Tomorrow’s SMILES ®, a teen program of National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy ®(NCOHF) that provides promising, at-risk teens with comprehensive oral health services to help prepare them for healthy, successful futures.  Sponsored by the Patterson Foundation and Philips Sonicare, Tomorrow’s SMILES helps restore smiles and self esteem while encouraging teens to take responsibility for their oral health. Through this program, caring volunteer dentists provide pro-bono restorative services for a prescreened underserved teen and have access to generously donated products from Invisalign ® and Nobel Biocare™ (including Procera ®).

Participating teens then Pay It Forward by serving as mentors and teachers to children, encouraging good oral health habits that will help them maintain beautiful, happy smiles throughout their lives and help to break the cycle of pediatric dental disease in their community.

Thanks to Leonard Hess, DDS, a Dawson Academy faculty member, and J. Turner Hull, DDS, MS, Tyler is receiving life-changing oral health services.  As a pilot, Dr. Hess immediately developed a unique bond with Tyler.  He said,  “Tyler is a great young man and we share a common interest in aviation.  I could see how important it was for him to feel good about his smile.  To make a positive impact on this teen’s life is extremely gratifying.”  Volunteering their time and expertise, these dentists are not only giving Tyler the gift of a smile; they are giving him hope.

When asked about the impact changing his smile has had on his life, Tyler remarked, “Now, I am more positive, outgoing and see myself as a leader.”  He then expressed great appreciation for the efforts of Drs. Leonard Hess and J. Turner Hull, “I am very grateful for all they have done for me.”  With renewed confidence, this well-spoken, hard-working teen is now facing his future with a big smile.

Tomorrow’s SMILES has had a big impact on his life.  He has gained confidence, self-esteem and become a leader among his peers,” remarked his grandfather, Phillip, about the incredible change in Tyler since beginning his treatment.

You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a beautiful smile and the promise of a brighter future by volunteering for Tomorrow’s SMILES.  To learn more about Tomorrow’s SMILES, visit Email Brenda Woodington at to volunteer to save a smile and change a teen’s life today!
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Private Care Creed for Complete Care Dentistry

At our recent dental ce course, Advanced Problem Solving course on St. Pete Beach, Florida, Dr. Peter Dawson mentioned the 'Private Care Creed' that is so important to live by in order to practice complete care dentistry and to give patients the care they deserve. This creed was created by the Schuster Center in 1995.

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The Journey to Complete Dentistry - Part 2

Continued from "The Journey to Complete Dentistry - Part 1"

“It is at this point that the frustration began. I knew what I wanted for my patients. I knew what complete dentistry had to offer. I knew how to get exquisite models and photos of my patients as part of a thorough and complete examination. I did NOT know what to do with all of this information. My thoughts started to be of the blissful days when I was ignorant of what I now knew.

Practice Development Guidance

The Dawson Academy created a lifelong ambassador of me at this point. I contacted Dr. Cobb with my frustration and he spent time encouraging me to find joy in the process and to relax and let my knowledge evolve. Sallie Bussey at The Academy was also a great help to me. She was always my contact person and I felt comfortable asking for her help. Sallie put me in touch with a Dawson Alumni in a town of similar size and demographics about 50 miles from my home. Dr. Sam Pominville was open and encouraging and has helped me through the rough spots in implementing what I have learned at the Dawson Academy.

My journey has continued with the Treatment Planning, Equilibration, and Restoring Anterior Teeth courses over the past year and a half. Each class reinforced the skills from those that preceded it and has added to my comfort and joy in practicing complete dentistry. Implementation of the systematic approach that The Dawson Academy teaches has been the most difficult aspect of my Dawson Academy journey. Relating my knowledge to my staff and creating an atmosphere of education for patients such that everyone on my team is congruent with the message has been a distinct challenge, while at the same time being exceedingly rewarding.  The Dawson Academy realizes that their mission is to provide students with knowledge AND to support them in the implementation of that knowledge.

Why I Took Dental Courses with The Dawson Academy

Why did I choose the Dawson Academy? I chose the Dawson Academy on a lark. I have become a loyal devotee of their approach to complete care and the people that comprise their institution simply because they have shown devotion to making me the best dentist I am willing to become."

A Note from Dr. Cobb

I want to thank Nick for sharing his story with us. I know that at The Dawson Academy the entire faculty and staff wish Nick and all of the doctors who proceed on the journey to complete care with us great success. If we were to talk to other dentists who have been touched by Dr. Dawson’s teachings and the curriculum at The Academy, there would be thousands of other stories just like Dr. Gardner’s. In fact, my story would be one of the many.

We know that the philosophies and processes we teach work and that, as Dr. Finlay wrote,  “the understanding, skills and protocols that you will master as a student in the core curriculum will improve your efficiency, productivity and profitability as a dentist.”

We wish you all great success!
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The Journey to Complete Dentistry - Part 1

by Dr. Andrew Cobb

In an earlier posting in response to a student question Dr. Scott Finlay, one of our lead faculty, wrote “ The philosophies that are the core of the Dawson Academy are not about practicing a different kind of dentistry, but practicing better, more predictable, complete care for your patients.  The understanding, skills and protocols that you will master as a student in the core curriculum will improve your efficiency, productivity and profitability as a dentist

At the Dawson Academy this is our goal for each and every student who begins their journey with us. We know that our success is your success. The core curriculum has been modified over the past two years to make this journey easier. We know that if you follow the process we teach, that your success will also follow. It sounds easy enough but we also know that any change can be a difficult thing to achieve.

I thought it would be beneficial to hear the story of one of our doctors who has started his path to complete dentistry. Over the past few years I have had the great pleasure and honor of meeting and working with many great dentists while teaching at The Dawson Academy. One of those doctors is Dr. Nicholas Gardner. I first met Nick as when he took “Comprehensive Exam and Records” a little over a year ago.

In the next two Blogs we’ll hear Nick’s story in his own words. Why did he choose the Dawson Academy? What are his challenges? Is he beginning to see the benefits?

Nick’s Journey in His Dental Continuing Education

“The flier was on my desk, Functional Occlusion from TMJ to Smile Design, St. Pete Beach Florida in May. The tuition was right; it had been a long cold winter here on the Canadian Border of New York State, some sunny warmth sounded right. I went to Dr. Dawson’s lecture on a whim and returned home having registered for the first hands on dental course, completely dumbfounded at the possibilities of making my practice of dentistry more predictable and complete.

I spent the entire 20 hours of that first lecture sitting in the front of the room, focused on what was being shared with us. The concept of complete dentistry made sense.  It was the way I wanted to treat my patients.  I did indeed see the need for a “go to” dentist in every town; I was surely not that dentist.

The time lag between that first lecture and Comprehensive Exam and Records felt like an eternity. My need to learn more of Dr. Dawson’s philosophy prompted me to purchase his textbook. I read the book nearly every night from the time I received it until the Records course.

I was finding two to six patients a day that had signs of disharmony in their masticatory system, from worn and loose teeth to tender muscle to formerly inexplicable loss of the periodontium. This Dr. Dawson fellow really knew what he was talking about.

Hands On Dental Course

After my few months of anxious waiting, the time had come for me to start the hands on curriculum in Chesapeake, Virginia with Drs. Drew Cobb and Lenny Hess instructing our group. The Dawson Academy staff and instructors were very welcoming and helpful. The Schafer’s at Bay View Dental Lab were great hosts.

Long days of lecture, clinical application of skills and laboratory work seemed to pass rapidly. Some of the skills seemed very natural while others were difficult.  All of us had the full attention and time of Drs. Cobb and Hess.  They worked with us until we felt comfortable enough to implement these skills without them standing beside us.

My excitement to return to practice with this set of skills far exceeded the original excitement of simply gaining the knowledge of Complete Dentistry as a concept.”

To read part 2, click here.
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No More Bullying - Tomorrow's Smiles

Ashamed of her unsightly smile, Micah didn’t feel pretty.  That, however, wasn’t even the worst of it.  “No one wants to be around the girl with ragged teeth,” she remarked about how difficult it was to make friends.  Bullied and harassed by her fellow classmates throughout high school, she would often cry herself to sleep worrying about the ridicule the next day would bring.   The teasing never stopped as her classmates resorted to cyber bullying, posting their cruel remarks online for all to see.

Tomorrow’s SMILES ®, a special program from the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF), was designed to help teens like Micah that desperately need dental care.  Through this innovative program sponsored by the Patterson Foundation, volunteer dentists provide pro bono services to promising at-risk teens in their community, restoring their self-esteem and encouraging them to take responsibility for their oral health. Tomorrow’s SMILES volunteer dentists also have access to generously donated products from Invisalign ® and Nobel Biocare (including Procera ®) to help restore the smiles of pre-screened, promising teens.

In return for receiving this life-changing care, participating teens Pay It Forward by sharing their newfound oral health knowledge through interactive oral health lessons with younger children in their community. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic childhood disease and it has reached epidemic proportions. Millions suffer in pain so severe, it inhibits their ability to eat, sleep and learn. Better access to oral health education can drastically reduce tooth decay as well as the financial and societal costs that result, which is why your support of this program is so important.

As you know, poor oral health can be devastating for an adolescent struggling to fit in and prepare for a successful future. Studies show that children with dental pain may be irritable, withdrawn, or unable to concentrate. This pain can affect test performance as well as school attendance. Suffering from the pain and embarrassment of her ugly smile, Micah lacked confidence and hope for a happy, successful future.

Her teacher and mentor at her local Alabama Boys & Girls Club had known Micah for several years and knew that she needed help. Micah was a bright student and worked well with all the children at the club, so her teacher reached out to the Tomorrow’s SMILES program for help.

As a Tomorrow’s SMILES teen, Micah no longer cries herself to sleep worrying about getting teased the following day.   Thanks to the generosity of a Dawson Academy dentist, Dr. Keith Calvert, she is currently receiving life-changing dental care, and soon will have a restored smile and renewed confidence.  With hope and excitement about her future, Micah has this to say about her career goals and wanting to become a teacher, “I can’t wait to have my teeth fixed so that people can hear what I say instead of being distracted by my teeth”.

You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a happy, beautiful smile and the promise of a brighter future by volunteering for Tomorrow’s SMILES. Visit or email Brenda Woodington at to learn more about this life-changing program!
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