Guest post by Stevan J. Orser, DDS, AAACD

Years ago, at a dinner meeting with my two partners, I proclaimed the need to advance our cosmetic dentistry skills. Cosmetic dentistry was the hot topic in our profession, and the cosmetic programs at seminars were packed—many top lectures had standing room only. This was true of the courses at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s (AACD) annual scientific session, but we knew if we wanted to be the best, we needed to learn from the best.

I made sure to register early and secure my spot at the next AACD meeting. At that meeting, I heard a lecturer say: “During one’s career, it is really helpful to have a mentor.” He defined a mentor as “someone who is already where you want to be. They’ve done what you’d like to do.” I considered my options, and with much anxiety, I contacted the chairman of AACD’s Accreditation process. The truth is, I didn’t know him. I had only heard him lecture and saw his amazing cosmetic dentistry slides in that lecture. But I knew he was the best person to reach out to.

I was shaking in my boots when I met him for early morning coffee. I did the only thing any of us can do to initiate change, I just showed up. The meeting went great, and he was generous with his time and ideas. Later that day, I signed up for the AACD Accreditation Written Exam and began the Accreditation process.

Generosity from the helpful people who have gone ahead of me has been a constant experience I’ve had with the AACD. It’s an organization with so many people willing to help and share. You may feel they’re more advanced, yet they will help you and they believe in you. We do things beyond our comfort zone because others know we can. It was the belief in me and the comradery that’s made my experience in AACD like no other organization. Twenty years later, my AACD colleagues remain a major positive force in my career.

The AACD and its members are here to serve and support you, getting you where you want to go. New members and first-time conference attendees are shepherded into the community at the annual scientific session with special events and opportunities to connect with veteran members. AACD affiliates offer local opportunities to connect, and involvement in AACD committees offers a unique opportunity to enjoy comradery with like-minded professionals while supporting the organization and its members. The AACD Accreditation process is the single most rewarding program in which I have participated. Years later, I now mentor others and have the honor of guiding several people to their peak of becoming Accredited Members.

At the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, we’re all in this together. But to be a part of it, you just have to show up.

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In addition to creating life-changing smiles at his Arlington Heights practice, Dr. Orser teaches other dentists at the prestigious Eubank Teaching Institute in Plano, Texas and is a visiting faculty member at UCLA. He also currently serves as an accredited examiner for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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