Brandon Dickerman never planned to join the family business, Dickerman Dental Prosthetics which was started by his grandfather, Myron Dickerman, CDT, nearly 50 years ago. "Everyone outside my family always assumed that's what I was going to do so, naturally, I decided to go the other way," he recalls with a laugh. But when he graduated from the University of Vermont in 2009 with a degree in geography and didn't like his employment prospects, his grandfather reminded him he always had a place at the laboratory; Brandon took him up on the offer.
He started as a trainee in the removable department, learning about tooth morphology and fabricating bite blocks, custom trays and denture waxups. Then, after a year, Brandon got a special project: learning Straumann's new guided surgery software—coDiagonstiX software and gonyX hardware—and implementing a new digital process in the lab. It sounds like a tall order for a new graduate with little laboratory experience, but computer-savvy Brandon jumped in with both feet.
"My generation grew up playing with computers and I spent a lot of time studying various software programs in college so I was excited by the project," says Brandon. "My father, Ira, helped train me on implants and then I immersed myself in the software and spent as much time as I could—even on the weekends—playing with it."
With Brandon's guidance, the lab was able to implement the new digital process for fabricating surgical guides in the lab within weeks and now many of the lab's implant cases are handled this way. In fact, he became so proficient that, this year, Straumann hired the 25-year-old as a part-time consultant to give lectures and demonstrations to technicians and dentists across the country.
Now Brandon can't imagine working anywhere else. "I've always loved working with my hands and fixing things," he says. "Now working in the lab allows me to tie both of those things together in my daily life to actually create something that will help improve a patient's life; I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. I don't know how I got so lucky."