Working at her parents' lab was the last thing Megan Gardner thought she'd be doing when she graduated with a graphic design degree. But when the company she worked for went under and she needed a job, her parents had an opening in the model room. It was when she moved into waxing, though, that she had her "aha" moment.
"Waxing up copings and full cast crowns was very reminiscent of my sculpture and pottery courses, so not only was I applying skills I learned in school, but I was using my hands to create something that helped people. It was a rewarding feeling," says Gardner, who then opted to attend a one-year dental technology program at a local technical college.
Gardner's education in graphic design has practically made learning the lab's new Nobel Procera system second nature. She was already accustomed to digitally manipulating shapes and many of the software tools are similar to design software she worked with in school. What Gardner finds the most exciting though is what she doesn't know yet. "Like graphic design technology, CAD/CAM is continually advancing so there will always be more indications to learn," she says. "I can only imagine what our capabilities will be in a year, two years or five years down the road."
For now, she's enjoying the influence she has on the progress of the family business and working side-by-side with her parents as they blend traditional and high-tech techniques. "The first time I showed my dad how we could create a full contour crown without a waxup, he had some advice on fine-tuning the anatomy and contacts. I think it was neat for him to see how we could apply that knowledge in this technologically advanced manner to create the same esthetic, functional crown," she says. "Together, we're bridging the generation gap."