Dentistry can be an isolating profession. Sure, there’s your office — with assistants, hygienists, office staff and maybe a partner or two — and of course patients. But most dentists rarely get the chance to learn from, and socialize with, other dentists.
In a profession that’s changing so rapidly, that can be frustrating.
Fortunately, a group of young area dentists have figured out a solution.
Alex Volchonok has taken the lead. Born in Moscow, he grew up in Philadelphia and south Jersey. At Lehigh and the University of Pennsylvania dental school, he learned the importance of collaboration.
After finishing his periodontal training at Columbia last year, he was hired as an associate with Dr. David Gottlieb, a longtime Westport resident. He’s helped bring the team approach to Dr. Gottlieb’s Norwalk office.
But Volchonok wanted to do more. He found a kindred spirit in Dr. Emily Driesman, who practices with Scher Orthodontics in Westport.
They formed a study group, as a way to network with other young professionals. “We want to grow together, using the benefits of technology and social media,” Volchonok says.
The diverse group includes oral surgeons, periodontists, orthodontists, children’s dentists and other specialists.
In addition to Driesman, Westport dentists in the group of about 20 include Drs. Steve Cagliostro, Sasha Drexler, Lindsay Gadzik, Alison Kudish, Hannah Ahn and Steve Smullin.
The common denominator: All are in their first 5 years of practice.
The group meets once a month, at different offices. They discuss a specific topic — cosmetic dentistry, laser treatment, something new in sedation or easing patient anxiety. Of course, there’s food and wine.
“As dentists, we spend our days confined to our offices,” Volchonok notes. “Even the professional societies meet just 2 or 3 times a year. Getting together every month really builds collaboration and bonds.”
Dentistry is “exploding,” Volchonok says. There are new methods, approaches — and especially technologies.
“A lot of it is in the digital realm,” he explains. “We’re comfortable with that. We’ve grown up with it. It’s a very dynamic field.”
You might call it wide open. And these young area dentists open wide to embrace it.