The dental specialty of Prosthodontics enjoys an almost spiritual dimension because of the dramatic change that can be made in a human life by applying a prosthodontist’s expertise. Even before dental implant protocols allowed for radical smile restoration in a single visit, the critical eye and skillful hands of a prosthodontist could create very esthetic, youthful, male and female crowns, bridges and veneers.
In this specialty lies not only a strong blend of science and architecture to ensure the longevity of dental function, but also the artistic grasp of what is most appropriate to enhance the appearance of every face. Add to all that an understanding of ceramic materials and perhaps even a touch of magic that comes from passion to recreate the natural teeth with perfection, and there you have a communion of celebration as colleagues bask in what can actually be achieved.
For decades, this prosthodontic dynamic has united colleagues, professors and students, mentors and interns, academics and clinicians. To make such a substantial contribution to the quality of a patient’s life has unspeakable rewards. It is natural that at national and global conferences, doctors will share their experiences, continually striving to advance quality of care and predictable results. Prosthodontics has the most cutting edge and newsworthy technology in all of dentistry.
Every prosthodontist can look back and identify the one individual who taught them to cherish this profession, and who imbued in them the excitement to embrace this field. For Dr. Tom Balshi, the founder of the Pi Dental Center, this person was the Chair of the Department of Prosthodontics at Temple University throughout both his undergraduate and graduate studies in the discipline. Ernest Beckwith Mingledorff, a southern born and raised soft-spoken gentleman with a dry humor and a charming Georgia drawl, brought out the best in all of his students. He knew only how to give constructive criticism and to improve the quality of the skills he was challenged to convey. Many revered him, perhaps none with as much long-lasting gusto as Dr. Tom Balshi.
En route to the 45th meeting of the American College of Prosthodontists from Philadelphia last month in Orlando, Florida, Dr. and Mrs. Balshi detoured from their course to visit with the Mingledorff’s, long retired and living in Springfield, Georgia in the home where “Ernie” grew up. At the age of ninety-one, not very mobile and partially blind, this prosthodontic icon embraced his student and sat back to chat vibrantly about days long past in the halls of Temple Dental School. He also expressed wonderment at the concepts of Teeth in a Day®, zygomatic implants and AvaDent® Digital Dentures.
There is no better re-fueling of inspiration and prosthodontic spunk than in visiting the one who shaped one’s professional profile and gave it life. And there was no better moment than the one in which Amber, the full time caregiver, blurted out, “I am so happy to finally meet Dr. Mingledorff’s favorite student.”
By Joanne Balshi