Joshua Polansky hasn't had just any mentors. Although initially intending to become a dentist like his father, he worked in several laboratories during college and 'fell in love' with dental technology. However, it was in 2003 when he had a one-on-one apprenticeship with Master Technician Olivier Tric that Polansky knew he had found his calling.
"Studying with Olivier opened up a world of possibilities to me; it was the direct opposite of the kind of laboratories I had been exposed to," says Polansky. "He showed me it was possible to create an environment where you craft your own cases from start to finish, work closely with patients as well as doctors, and earn respect for yourself as a technician." Polansky continued to immerse himself in the work, attending industry meetings and earning his Master's Degree in Dental Ceramics from UCLA. He also seized the opportunity to spend time studying with Klaus Müterthies in Germany and Walter Gebhard in Switzerland, shadowing them in their laboratories and gleaning tips and techniques from their everyday work.
"Working side-by-side with technicians I consider my heroes was invaluable. I got to learn from them in 'real life' where—unlike in a seminar setting—there were time constraints and a real patient and dentist-customer on the other end," says Polansky, who now owns Niche Dental Studio in Cherry Hill, NJ. The boutique laboratory allows him to do high-end work he loves in collaboration with his father, Dr. Barry Polansky, and a handful of other quality-oriented dentists.
Despite being trained by the big names—and turning into quite a name himself—Polansky is known for his humble and down-to-earth demeanor. "Joshua has a passion for excellence, fearlessness to be himself, but also the humility to be 'just another dental technician'," says Jim Redden, Watchtower Dental Lab, Brooklyn, NY.
Also a talented photographer, Polansky is now an educator in his own right who lectures frequently across the U.S. and Europe. In addition to sharing his passion for making beautiful, functional restorations, he also tells attendees at his courses it's not all about technical skill. "You have to do good work. But our future is dependent on the relationships we have with our dentist-clients," says Polansky. "I know my clients value the strength of our relationships as much as I do and that gives me a lot of peace of mind."