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Periospectives October-December 2015 : Page 6

MOVING FORWARD Newly installed AAP president Dr. Wayne Aldredge looks ahead yet stays rooted in core values As an undergraduate at Stockton State College in Galloway, New Jersey, Dr. Wayne Aldredge followed his curiosities with one mantra in mind: No grand plan; do what you enjoy. “Sometimes we gravitate toward the things we like,” he says. “And I really liked biology, chemistry, and physics.” It was after learning that his roommate (who’d come from a lineage of dentists) was pursuing dental school that Dr. Aldredge considered a career in dentistry. “I said, ‘No grand plan.’ I just took the tests and got accepted. This was not something I thought of doing, and it just fell into place for me.” Dr. Aldredge, whose childhood ambition was to become a forest ranger, could not have foreseen the grand plan that was indeed in store for him many years after he entered what is now the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in Newark. Now as the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, the Holmdel, New Jersey, periodontist is not only thinking about the future of the specialty, but about the closely held values that have driven pivotal moments in his life and career. My father never quit, and from him I learned that if you volunteer for something, you do it the best you can until the end. Give your all, all the time. AAP Perio spectives | 6

Moving Forward

Newly installed AAP president Dr. Wayne Aldredge looks ahead yet stays rooted in core values

As an undergraduate at Stockton State College in Galloway, New Jersey, Dr. Wayne Aldredge followed his curiosities with one mantra in mind: No grand plan; do what you enjoy.

“Sometimes we gravitate toward the things we like,” he says. “And I really liked biology, chemistry, and physics.” It was after learning that his roommate (who’d come from a lineage of dentists) was pursuing dental school that Dr. Aldredge considered a career in dentistry. “I said, ‘No grand plan.’ I just took the tests and got accepted. This was not something I thought of doing, and it just fell into place for me.”

Dr. Aldredge, whose childhood ambition was to become a forest ranger, could not have foreseen the grand plan that was indeed in store for him many years after he entered what is now the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in Newark. Now as the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, the Holmdel, New Jersey, periodontist is not only thinking about the future of the specialty, but about the closely held values that have driven pivotal moments in his life and career.

“Just keep saying yes”

A self-described patriot, Dr. Aldredge enlisted in the U.S. military during college serving in a reserve unit as a generator repairman in a combat engineer battalion. He later joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), receiving an ROTC scholarship for his final two years of college. His military service continued through dental school where he entered the National Guard. “I was a medical platoon leader in a cavalry unit,” he says. “We had tanks and helicopters. We went to firing ranges, and I had great people to work with when I was there.” It was during a dental summer externship at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, while working with Col.John Ross, that periodontics piqued Dr. Aldredge’s interests.

After leaving the National Guard, Dr. Aldredge went on active duty for four years, spending his first year at a general practice residency at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. He eventually completed his post-graduate periodontal degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he was guided by AAP past president Dr. Vincent Iacono, whom Dr. Aldredge regards as a “fantastic mentor, along with the rest of the faculty there who made me love this specialty.”

In 1993, Dr. Aldredge was stationed as an Army Captain at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, overseeing all of the periodontal therapy performed at its clinic. Not one to shy away from an opportunity to serve, he also spent much of his free time coaching West Point’s rugby team. “I took the Cadets to Nationals. We’d also attend tri-service (Army, Navy, and Air Force) rugby tournaments, like the Cinco De Mayo tournament in San Antonio,” he says. “I enjoy having variety in my days.”

Upon completing his military commitment in 1996, Dr. Aldredge became more active within the AAP, which he joined in 1995. It was Dr. Iacono who recommended Dr. Aldredge’s appointment to the AAP’s New Membership Committee in 1999, the same year Dr. Aldredge began his private practice.“I’ve been fortunate to work my way up through the volunteer structure. What I’ve found is that if you want to get involved with volunteer work, you ask a leader, ‘What can I do?’ You get something to do, you do it to the best of your ability, and hopefully you’re asked to do something else,” he says. “You just keep saying ‘yes’ and keep working your way up.”

Role models and mentors

As a teenager, Dr. Aldredge worked with his father, William, at an appliance warehouse each summer. “We’d leave for work at 4:30 or five in the morning and get home at six at night. I spent my days moving washers and dryers and refrigerators around with hand trucks,” he says, crediting his parents for instilling an unwavering work ethic. “My father never quit, and from him I learned that if you volunteer for something, you do it the best you can until the end. Give your all, all the time. If you don’t want to do it again, don’t do it again. But you never quit. My parents are my role models with solid core values who just worked selflessly to provide their children with better opportunities.”

Dr. Aldredge has also taken note of many colleagues whose efforts influenced both the clinical and organizational aspects of periodontics, including AAP past presidents Drs.Gordon Douglas, PD Miller, Bob Genco, Sam Low, among others; and past American Dental Association presidents Drs. Robert Faiella and Maxine Feinberg, also periodontists.

“Look at the number of hours these people put in on behalf of others. We have leaders from 20, 30 years ago—like Jack Caton, Ron Nevins, and Bob Schallhorn—who are still giving back. They volunteer their nights, their weekends, their hours because they want to preserve and advance the specialty,” he says.“Nobody is successful without a team around them. You don’t move the profession forward without like-minded individuals who are future-thinkers.”

Guiding principles for his presidency

In assessing the landscape of the dental profession, Dr. Aldredge believes that periodontics is poised for a bright future, citing the specialty’s stronghold in the area of implant dentistry. “Our scientists, our clinicians, and our research have made dental implants an extremely predictable procedure,” he says. “No other specialty has driven this. No other specialty has added a year to its training programs to provide expertise in performing these procedures. I think we’re positioned fantastically to move forward; we just have to be proud of who we are and what we do.”

Dr. Aldredge believes that periodontics’ diverse foci, including its foundations in research, emphasis on clinical applications, and translational science, have helped to secure its continued relevance not only in dentistry, but in the overall wellbeing of patients.“We have driven the science in treating a disease— periodontal disease, which is disfiguring people, has huge bacterial loads, and is linked to various systemic conditions. It’s multi-factorial,” he says. “It’s that grounding in science, the academic side of who we are, that makes us a successful profession today.”

In looking to the future of the specialty, Dr. Aldredge hopes to see periodontists leading the charge on such advancements as biologic tissue engineering and in prioritizing patient wellbeing. “When I say that I can predictably rebuild soft tissue, bone, or the “root” of a tooth by placing a dental implant, which will enable a patient to chew and smile forever, I think that’s extremely impactful,” he adds, noting, “To be the most successful, you have to have the science driving the biology and the materials. We are the specialists who provide these advanced surgical therapies as comfortably as possible to provide the most predictable outcomes for our patients.”

As he takes the helm of the Academy, Dr. Aldredge has connected the dots on his personal and professional experiences, believing that the success of the specialty boils down to excellence and service. “When I think about our members, we’re healthcare providers; we’re here to help people. We’re doctors; we help, we teach. We have to be the best surgical specialists we can be.”

Read the full article at http://onlinedigeditions.com/article/Moving+Forward/2364725/286894/article.html.

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