Meet the Winners

Dr. Ira Sy

Inspired by a dentist with whom he had the opportunity to work while in college, Dr. Ira Sy of Richmond and Vancouver, British Columbia developed a very strong interest in patient care while working with hospice.  “It has always been about helping patients and trying to deliver the best possible therapy for them.”  Dr. Sy completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California and received his DDS from Case Western Reserve University.  He later obtained his specialty certification training in Implants and Periodontics at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill and received an M.S. in Oral Biology.

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With an interest in the field of esthetic soft tissue therapy, bone regenerative therapy and implant dentistry, Dr. Sy is a strong advocate for case documentation because it is a way to learn about treatment decisions made for patients.  It is through that documentation that he has gained a deep appreciation for the surgical therapies he performs while continuously striving to enhance techniques and deliver even better results in the future.  “Emdogain has helped my practice tremendously.  Knowing that I am able to offer patients the best possible alternatives in regenerative therapy allows me to treat their problems individually with the treatment I find to be ideal.”  One of the key features Dr. Sy reported was the ease of handling during clinical procedures.  “Emdogain has given me greater confidence when treating patients with various clinical situations.” 

We asked Dr. Sy what piece of advice he would give a clinician who is about to embark on his dental career and his statement was strong, simple and immediately applicable from day one.  “First and foremost, treat your patients well and communicate effectively with your referring practices.”

Dr. Sy envisions the future as growing tremendously in the area of implant dentistry and he believes we will see further advances in biological mediators that will help in tissue regeneration.  “At this time, there really isn’t a product similar to Emdogain with regard to the biology and science.  Used in conjunction with surgical therapies, Emdogain works differently than traditional regenerative materials.”  Dr. Sy is a believer in the benefits he has seen.  “The overall healing with bone and soft tissue is probably the major patient benefit.”    

While continuously striving to excel in his field, what does he value outside the practice of dentistry?  “I truly enjoy spending time with my family and my children.  Being active with them and participating in various sports and games is great.  Striking a balance between your professional, personal and family life is so important.”

Dr. Ken Akimoto

A number of factors can influence one’s career choice and Dr. Ken Akimoto has had many.  Having a father devoted to his work but always on the road, he thought it would be nice to spend more time with family so being self-employed was the way to go.  As a child, he always liked working with his hands and building small things so the practice of dentistry seemed to make the most sense to him.  Dr. Akimoto successfully completed dental school and worked as a General Practitioner for seven years.  He worked with a periodontist who mentored him and encouraged him to pursue a career in Periodontics.  He decided to do just that.

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“Practicing periodontics is a combination of art and science.  It’s rewarding, yet sometimes frustrating to document and disect the outcome of surgery,“ shares Dr. Akimoto.  Why document then?  “Without good documentation, there is no way to look back and figure out how you are doing.“  He believes that case documentation keeps him humble while also helping in his continual quest to advance and perfect his surgical techniques. 

Dr. Akimoto believes that being a successful surgeon is all about relationships and effective communication.  What’s important to him is a clear understanding of the type of dentistry he’s delivering to patients and possessing the knowledge of market trends and innovations.  When asked why he chooses Straumann® Emdogain to treat gingival recession defects, Dr. Akimoto said “Emdogain is one of the products that has shown effectiveness consistently through years of research and published data.  It’s ease of use, predictable outcome and the fact that it is not technique sensitive has helped me to achieve great results.  It’s always nice to see happy patients after the treatment and see that your work has made people healthier – and happier.“ 

Sharing the passion of dentistry with his spouse who is a Prosthodontist, most of Dr. Akimoto’s time is dedicated to the practice of dentistry.  What does he like about Straumann?  “I feel Straumann has always respected and appreciated the science.  Complement that with the service and support I receive from the company and it’s a winning combination.“ 

Dr. Paul Luepke

When Dr. Paul Luepke knew that the healthcare profession was for him, he thought about which field would allow him to work with his hands and solve problems on a daily basis. He decided upon a career in dentistry and today, Dr. Luepke considers himself a critical thinking oral health engineer who continually strives to improve the lives of his patients. He does this by restoring and improving the health of his patients while building their self-esteem with a beautiful smile which brings joy not only to the patient, but also to Dr. Luepke, a clinician who believes in The Golden Rule and treats everyone like he would want to be treated.

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Documenting cases is important to Dr. Luepke.  "Whenever I take pictures to look at later – whether it is pre- and post-op images or capturing techniques – it allows me to be more critical of the outcomes.  We all want to improve and critical evaluations on the day of the procedure and at a later date helps to achieve these goals."  Dr. Luepke views clinical photography as a powerful tool, allowing patients and referring dentists to actually see what can be done.  A picture truly is worth a thousand words when it comes to treatment planning and successful outcomes. 

Why has Emdogain been his product of choice in fighting gingival recession?  "I’ve been through many other products to find an alternative to palatal tissue donor grafting and the results have all varied too much in my hands.  With Emdogain, I have learned what cases will respond with the therapy and it is consistent."

Dr. Luepke’s referring doctors are well educated on the benefits of Emdogain and this is why patients find themselves in his chair.  “I can tell it has been part of the discussion when the patients ask if I am going to use that new gel technique.  Patients have told friends that the procedure is less painful which has also resulted in referrals." Even Dr. Luepke’s office staff is ready to have their friends and family treated for gingival recession.  "That is the best testimonial I can share!"

For any practitioner looking to build a thriving practice, Dr. Luepke says it is all about good communication.  "Be a great communicator to your patients and your colleagues.  Once they have placed their trust in you and confidence is instilled, the rest will take care of itself."

When Dr. Luepke is not fighting gingival recession, you can find him spending time with family and friends, participating in a round of golf or savoring good food and good books.

Dr. Mark Gutt

For Dr. Mark Gutt, his career path of choice in the dental field was clear early on.  With the knowledge that he could help people along with the awareness that periodontics serves as the foundation of all dentistry, he pursued what he believes to be the perfect blend for a profession.  And who would disagree?  When Dr. Gutt talks periodontics, he speaks with a passion for and a commitment to functional, esthetic results and healthy, smiling patients.  That’s what he strives for each and every case, day after day.

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His selection as a winner in the 2009 Esthetic Case Competition gave him credence among peers and earned him trust with his patients.  “The ability to show published pictures and a winning case makes patients feel as if they are being treated by someone of value who will benefit them.  It validates their decision in choosing me as their clinician“, shares Dr. Gutt who believes in being patient with his patients. 

On May 12, 1997, Dr. Gutt first used Emdogain for regenerative periodontal treatment.  “Emdogain is a tool in my daily practice because from that first case I was able to see consistent bone growth and bone fill of defects that was very regular and consistent.“  Today, Emdogain is his choice for esthetic surgeries.  Because the results are visible and both the results and Straumann’s research are consistent, he chooses Emdogain as a practice growth strategy.  Why Straumann?  Dr. Gutt said, “Straumann is on the front lines with me every day.  They have the ability to evolve as my practice evolves.“ 

When asked what advice he would give to someone building a practice, he assuredly states “Listen to your patients.  Give them time to speak.  Look at the whole picture, then break it down for them.“  Dr. Gutt also advocates and encourages amassing cases so that clinicians can showcase their optimal results to their patients.  Why document?  “To build a history.“ Documenting cases is a teaching, learning and marketing tool to build a referral base, increase case acceptance and grow a practice.  “I look at the photos and ask myself if I could do something different.  What about the incision?  The results?  Why did I do what I did?“  Dr. Gutt believes that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words and allows a clinician to justify the work or change the course of treatment in the future.  From reviewing an approach to ensuring an approach is still the most direct and simple way, case documentation serves as an endless source of education.     

Dr. Gutt envisions the future of dentistry in a reflective and thoughtful manner.  “I would like to see dentistry go back to its roots as far as the treatment of patients by the appropriate practitioners working together.“  What Dr. Gutt and several other successful clinicians want is a collective, collaborative approach to treatment with each professional on the team respecting the abilities of the other to benefit the patient – the ultimate goal from a clinical perspective as well as an overall sense of health, well-being and confidence for the patient. 

“I like to provide comprehensive periodontal care which extends from regular hygiene care to surgical therapy to laser treatment using the newest and most able products to perform plastic surgery of the mouth.  That’s what I am – a periodontal plastic surgeon of the mouth,“ shares Dr. Gutt.  And who is he when not fighting gingival recession through the use of Emdogain?  He is a devoted husband and father with a very full life that revolves around his children.  From his daughter’s live performances to his son’s tennis tournaments, Dr. Gutt lives his life like he grows his practice – with the tireless commitment necessary to be an exemplary individual and highly skilled professional who cares about what’s best for others. 

Dr. Robert A. Levine

Dr. Robert A. Levine, a Fellow of the International Team for Implantology, as well as a member of the US Section’s Education Committee (ITI, Basel, Switzerland), maintains a full-time private practice in Northeast Philadelphia focusing on surgical implant placement, cosmetic oral plastic surgery procedures and regenerative and reconstructive therapy.  Born into a family of medical and dental practitioners, he was inspired to follow in their footsteps.  Dr. Levine placed his first Straumann® dental implant in 1991. Today, he is continually motivated by successful clinical results, a strong interdisciplinary team of dentists and specialists with whom he works and very happy patients.  Dr. Levine is a firm believer in an interdisciplinary team approach and believes that “the implant therapy delivered by an interdisciplinary team results in predictable outcomes most beneficial for our patients. The team shares responsibilities and just like the medical model, with us all on the same page, the process becomes seamless for the patient.”   Due to this “team approach” philosophy, 90% of Dr. Levine’s cases are colleague referrals.

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Straumann® Emdogain™, together with Dr. Levine’s surgical expertise, delivers predictability through its ease of handling, long-term success and excellent results through evidence based literature in both hard and soft tissue.  Dr. Levine meticulously documents all of his cases from start to finish.  This documentation avails him the opportunity to critique his own work and serves as a basis for his teaching, lecturing and publications.  Dr. Levine’s success with Emdogain provides a valuable marketing and educational tool to build his referral base. 

What does Dr. Levine do when he is not treating gingival recession or placing implants?  He is a proud guitarist in the “69th Pennsylvania Irish Volunteers--a Civil War Band” which contributes generous funding, over $90,000 to date, for tombstone dedications, Civil War battlefield preservation and educational grants to promote the learning and preservation of American history.  The 69th Pennsylvania Irish Volunteers Band has recorded two musical CDs, “Rock of Erin” (2002) and “In Their Honor” (2006) to help support their fundraising efforts.  The band was also highlighted in the feature film and sound track of Placebo (released 2008- Anomaly Films).  Dr. Levine keeps fit with his wife Dr. Sheryl Radin, a pediatric dentist in Yardley, PA, who together use the P90X® exercise program.  Dr. Levine is an avid skier and tennis player who also enjoys playing softball with his son, Ross, a soon to be graduate of the Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University.  His daughter, Bari, will enter the Kornberg School of Dentistry in the fall.

When asked “Why Straumann®?”,  Dr. Levine is impressed with the company’s tremendous support to the ITI and the help offered to all Straumann customers.  “Straumann continues to develop superior products and solutions that enable us to treat our patients based on the latest research.  Most importantly, the solutions and products are well documented and evidence based.”