Executive Director, Becky Herman, chats with Seventh District Dental Society Board Member, Dr. Stephen Burgart about his dental career and service to organized dentistry.
BH: Tell me about how you got started in dentistry.
SB: I graduated from the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 1982 and then completed a one-year General Practice Residency at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo. I grew up in the Rochester region and knew I wanted to come back here. I worked as an associate from 1983-1986 and opened my own practice in 1986.
BH: I hear you are retiring in September. How do you feel about that?
SB: In 1995, I bought my own building on Westfall Rd. and I have been practicing there for 27 years. I would not change anything about my private practice experience. My advice for young dentists is to Find a way to love what you do and it will not feel like work. If you do not like what you’re doing, change it.
BH: When did you get involved in organized dentistry?
SB: I shied away from organized dentistry early in my career because of work and family commitments. I did not get involved until my four kids were out of the house. At that time, I wanted to help make the profession better. To make it something we could all be proud of. It has been the most rewarding experience. I have gotten to know colleagues statewide, who I never would have had the chance to meet. There is a collegiality that I never expected. My one regret is that I didn’t get involved sooner. I learned that the risk of venturing into the unknown is less scary and more rewarding. Get involved early, if only on a part-time basis.
BH: I understand you are also passionate about your charitable work in Haiti over the last decade.
SB: In 2010, I went to Haiti with a neighbor who asked if I could help provide dental care to Haitians. In 2012, I started a dental clinic in a hospital on the north coast of Haiti. Over the last decade, I have taken numerous friends and colleagues, as well as hygienists and assistants, with me to Haiti to provide dental care. Pre-COVID, we would go once or twice a year for a 1–2-week period, treat 25 patients a day – pulling teeth, providing endodontic services, restorative work, etc. The clinic is more tech-savvy than my own here in the US, with state-of-the-art equipment, a CEREC machine, digital x-rays, and more. The patients are tremendously grateful, but I feel I get more out of the experience than the people I treat and it’s the right to do.